Last month we were fortunate enough to be invited to IBM UK’s 2017 UP Careers Academy, an event organised to support the firm’s internship students with career planning, support and guidance. It is safe to say that IBM must have their assessment and selection on point, as the calibre of student was impeccable. Such diversity and creativity in their thinking, and a real enthusiasm to develop their career’s, it truly was a privilege to be part of.
We supported IBM throughout the week, providing career transition workshops, focused on the importance and value of transferable skills for emerging talent. Before we left, we caught up with the event organiser, and IBM’s Emma McDermott, who shared a little about how the interns found the sessions, and what she’d hoped they took away from the event to help them with their future career planning.
Emma McDermott – Security Business Operations Consultant and University of Leicester Undergraduate.
What’s been your involvement in this career’s academy?
I have essentially project managed a team of 15 people to create the event. This was on top of my day to day job, and my careers manager here recommended me to do this role. It has been a great way for me to transfer some of my key skills and put them towards helping manage and lead a team.
What was the strategy behind creating a successful event?
All about planning and preparation, and making sure we have all stones unturned, so that if anything did not go to plan on the day, we had contingencies in place. Also, the whole theme has been revolved around innovation, so we’ve tried to promote creativity through the planning of the event. We wanted to give the guys attending more ‘choice’ to help them ‘design their own future’ (Design Your Future was the event’s slogan). We wanted to give them technical specific sessions, as well soft skills and career skills training – that is ultimately what we wanted to offer. Over 250 interns came together, and not all of them will continue their careers here at IBM long term, so we felt it important to offer a wide range of workshops, to ensure we helped and engaged with people who will want to stay, but also those who want to find out more about life outside of IBM.
You had senior market experts from within IBM delivering sessions, to help with technical skills training, but what was the reason for also bringing in external speakers such as ourselves at TTP?
Why TTP? – I liked the initiatives focus and belief in transferable skills, and albeit the focus is within the elite sporting space, I really liked the fact that the messages can be relevant for all types of people and careers. Having also experienced the workshops myself, TTP clearly helped interns understand how their lifestyles, and the skills they have developed from life outside of work, can be utilised to help them with their career planning and career success. And the fact that the initiative uses people as their story, and other elite athlete’s stories to exemplify these messages I think really engaged with the interns. It offered something different.
You only really understand once you start working, how important transferable skills are, and we wanted to get the attendees to think about this. They are in a brilliant place, with good education and IBM on their CV, so for them to be able to understand other ways to improve their personal brand was great for us, and that is what TTP gave us.
Finally, what path does your future career hold?
A mixture of business and law would be great for me. I have had some exposure to this during my time at IBM, working with clients selling, but also writing and reviewing legally binding documents for the firm. This would be my ideal next step.