From Co-op Student To New Grad At IBM

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“IBM’s co-op experience is an invaluable learning experience,” says Supriya Ramesh.

The Strategy and Transformation Consultant knows first-hand, as it was a co-op placement at IBM that helped her start her career with the company.

While studying electrical engineering at Queen’s University, Supriya applied for a co-op position with IBM’s Information Management Team.

“The team I applied to required a technical background and good communication skills,” Supriya says, adding that she feels her ability to speak three major Indian languages was a definite asset for the position.

While the co-op placement was based in Toronto, IBM arranged a telephone interview with Supriya in Kingston. She started at IBM as a Technical Enablement Specialist in May 2011, and would stay in that role for over a year.

A co-op student at IBM

After starting at IBM, Supriya soon found herself expanding her existing skillset. Working in the Information Management Team, Supriya’s main responsibilities involved training IBM’s business partners in data security and data archiving technologies.

“My role primarily consisted of technical writing for business partner training materials,” she says. “I also published online e-learning with voice narration for IBM’s Information Management Learning Portal.”

Supriya also participated in a hands-on capacity co-teaching a bootcamp event for a group of IBM’s business partners – an experience she found particularly stimulating.

“The best thing about being a co-op student at IBM is that you are given similar responsibilities to a full-time employee,” she explains.

Making connections on the job

While working at IBM, Supriya had several opportunities to make professional connections through networking and mentorship.

“I met many of my current mentors when I was a co-op student!” she says.

On the less formal side of things, Supriya connected with her coworkers through activities and events like beach volleyball, ultimate frisbee and case competitions.

The environment at IBM played a major role in helping Supriya decide to pursue a career at the company.

“I love the friendly work atmosphere at IBM,” she says. “Senior leaders are very supportive and are always willing to offer a helping hand to students and new grads.”

A promising start

After completing her co-op placement and returning to Queen’s in August 2012, Supriya attended an IBM networking event and learned of the Consulting By Degrees (CBD) program, where she would later turn her co-op experience into a career after graduating in 2013.

It’s a competitive program, and Supriya credits her co-op experience as a decisive factor.

Having started her career with IBM as a Strategy and Transformation Consultant, Supriya is now enjoying the freedom to explore different roles in various sectors of the company through a rotational program, including positions as a Tester, Technical Writer and Business Analyst.

“I enjoy that my role is dynamic,” she says. “This has helped me learn quite a lot in the last year.”

Besides her rotational program, she’s also enthusiastic about IBM’s investment in ongoing skill development. “IBM is very supportive in terms of allowing employees to take training courses that will help us build our knowledge base,” Supriya says.

Inside insight for IBM hopefuls

As someone familiar with both the co-op and career positions at IBM, Supriya has excellent insight into how to ensure your success when pursuing a job at IBM.

“The key to learning about opportunities is by networking at career fairs that are hosted by IBM,” she says. “It is also really important to keep updated with IBM’s current news.”

On the job, engagement and enthusiasm are vital. “I would say taking initiative and being really enthusiastic and open to learning opportunities are key to success,” Supriya says. “As students or new grads, we should be flexible and open to taking any task that is thrown at us.”

On a bigger scale, investment in IBM’s corporate culture and values matters as well. “It is very important to stay active and involved in IBM’s internal activities and volunteering initiatives, aside from a regular day job,” says Supriya. “This involvement helps realize IBM’s ethics, corporate culture and vision.”

Supriya pursued this investment by participating in a volunteer event teaching elementary school students about the technology industry and by volunteering as a Campus Ambassador for IBM at Queen’s University. “It was a great feeling to represent IBM as a student in my school,” she says.

A story like Supriya’s illustrates how the going the extra mile in a co-op placement can help you lock in your career path after graduation. Get inspired and follow her lead!
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About the author

Elias Da Silva-Powell is a Content, Marketing and Community Specialist at TalentEgg, as well as a two-time graduate of Queen's University. An avid bow-titan, he has been trying to bring whimsical neck wear back into the mainstream since 2008. He's around on Twitter: @EDSPowell and you can check out his profile on LinkedIn, and even G+.