If you ask any IBM intern what attracted them to their role, you’re sure to get a myriad of answers. Exciting technology, real-world experience, challenging work, and mentorship are just some that we’ve heard, but the list really could go on and on.
IBM’s Summit Internship Program is an especially sought-after learning experience for students and new grads who are looking to launch a successful career in consulting and sales.
We had the chance to speak with three Summit Interns at IBM who shared some of the awesome experiences they’ve had with the company so far.
An Opportunity at the Centre of the Action
Ryan Ing knew that he wanted to work for a technology company – and he wanted to work for a big one. While several of his classmates went off to take jobs at banks or accounting firms, he was motivated to launch a career in the tech space.
Ryan knew IBM Canada had a strong presence on his campus, and he had already attended info sessions to learn more about the company. “I actually got to meet with [them],” he said. “IBM was really a standout company because of that.”
In his role, Ryan works with the Ontario Public Sector and helps his team provide software solutions to hospitals and universities in Ontario. While his day-to-day tasks vary, the majority of his work revolves around organizing and attending client meetings, creating presentations, and learning about IBM Cloud technology. Ryan and his team spend time at five different IBM offices in the Toronto area, so his work environment is constantly changing.
The projects that Ryan and other Summit Interns get to tackle at IBM are beyond anything they’ve learned in the classroom. “There’s no sales program or particular sales course at my school that can teach you how to listen and how to understand someone’s needs,” said Ryan. “I appreciated going to see real clients, meeting with business partners, and being right in the middle of the action.
What has really stood out to Ryan about his internship experience so far has been the opportunity to present regarding IBM Bluemix to an audience of 80 people at IBM’s annual Cognitive Innovation Tour. With the help of some other IBMers, Using IBM Bluemix, In just two weeks, Ryan learned the technology and developed an app for the healthcare sector inspired by tongue diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine. The app was able to identify a healthy tongue from an unhealthy tongue. Subsequently, Ryan even had some inquiries from companies in the audience who were interested in implementing the technology themselves.
Outside of each intern’s day-to-day responsibilities, they’re also given the opportunity to take part in IBM’s intern challenge. Each term, the interns at IBM are divided into teams and assigned a major Canadian client. Over the course of their work term, the teams are challenged to analyze the company and create a pitch about how they could use IBM technology to improve their operations. At the end of the summer, each team is given the opportunity to go pitch it to not only the president of IBM Canada, but to the client themselves.
Landing a job at IBM is a four-step process. Ryan explains:
1. Apply online
2. Phone interview with a recruiter
3. In-person interview with a manager
4. Case day – this day includes two interviews with executives and a 90 second speech presentation
Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone
Carly Allison, a fourth-year Queen’s Commerce student, is spending her second summer interning with the IBM team. For someone who is interested in launching a career in Sales and Marketing, she is in the right place.
While last summer she found herself in a Human Resources support role, this year Carly is working in a sales position on IBM’s new Strategic Growth team. She’s been paired with a client rep to help research clients and build out extensive profiles for them.
“I was intrigued by the fact that a lot of different teams at IBM take on interns, so there’s a lot of opportunities to get involved with different roles within sales and otherwise,” Carly told us.
Carly’s role as a Summit Intern also provides her with plenty of opportunities to step outside of her comfort zone, including the chance to attend the Ideacity Conference in Toronto. She admits that she was initially intimidated by the attendee list – 75% of which was made up of senior executives. “I was nervous as intern to be able to hold my own against some of these really senior, important people,” she said. As it turned out, once she put herself out there and started talking to people, she had the chance to meet several contacts that she’s been exposed to on the Strategic Growth team, which helped her develop a greater understanding of their business.
Inside the IBM offices, Carly and the other Summit Interns are surrounded by a dynamic mix of newer employees and senior IBMers – some of whom have been with the team for over 35 years. “Every IBMer I’ve worked with, no matter how long they’ve been there, will help you succeed and really share what they know with you,” commented Carly.
What skills will you gain during your Summit Internship? Carly shares a few:
Communication: “It’s important to make yourself clear and heard when you’re looking for something – and following up is absolutely essential. Everyone here is going to make time for you, but you do need to be persistent.”
Time management: “You have the opportunity here to get involved in a lot of different projects at the same time, so it’s easy to put things on the back burner. Managing how you allocate your time is really important.”
Industry-related technical skills: “I think [these] are still very applicable outside of the IBM walls too.”
Exciting New Challenges Everyday
Jenny Chen is a self-proclaimed technology enthusiast who is going into her fourth year of the Honours Business Administration Program at Western University’s Ivey Business School. Jenny heard about the IBM Summit Program from one of her former co-workers who went through IBM’s Extreme Blue Program (and is now a full-time IBMer). She knew that she wanted to explore a career in tech sales in a fast-paced and challenging environment, so the IBM Summit Program definitely piqued her interest.
To learn more about the program, she attended recruitment sessions on campus and networked with Summit Program alumni. “Realizing the kind of opportunities that are given to [Summit Interns] and the hands-on opportunities in sales really pushed me to apply for this internship,” she said.
In her role, Jenny works as a Financial Services Sales Intern surveying the TD Bank account. She works alongside some top executives in IBM’s ongoing initiatives for TD Bank.
As a Summit Intern, no two days in her role are ever the same. She spends some of her days sitting amongst the most senior executives at TD, and other days playing with ways to build chatbots – even with no technical background. “I get to go on client meetings, and help facilitate a lot of our strategic sales meetings internally with our sellers,” she said. Each day, she’s gaining hands-on experience and getting pulled into different sales projects with IBM client executives.
“Not only has my internship provided me with the opportunity to work within the Financial Services sector, but it has really allowed me take on other leadership pursuits within the company,” Jenny told us. Outside of her sales role, she also acts as a Career and Development Lead in IBM’s Future Blue program. She wanted to be able to provide educational sessions for interns who don’t come from a tech background, so IBM provided her team with resources to successfully launch an internal case competition for interns across the GTA. “IBM is a company that not only invests in your professional development, but even in your personal pursuits,” Jenny noted.
Jenny says she loves the challenge that IBM provides her on a daily basis. In fact, never really being able to know everything about the company is one of the things that attracted her to this role. “I personally see challenge as a positive word,” she ssid. “Being able to walk out of a meeting having taken seven or eight pages of notes to go conduct research on is personally very exhilarating, and really allows me to learn something new every single day.”
Considering applying to the Summit Program? Jenny has some advice for you:
1. Do your research: Jenny strongly encourages people to not just do a brief scan of IBM.com, but to reach out to Summit Program alumni to learn about what the role entails from someone who’s experienced it.
2. Network: Find contacts on LinkedIn and reach out to people within the company. She recommends that you start making connections at IBM before you even apply.
3. Participate in IBM-sponsored events: The recruitment team will visit your campus so participate in that. There will be great contacts you can meet.