What I have learned from my placement so far – Laura Conchie

As I reach halfway I have suddenly realised how quickly my placement year is moving along. I’m looking forward to the next 3 months for the latter end of my placement. I’ve begun ongoing shadowing opportunities int he office within the areas of Global Logistics, Business Partners and Supply Chain. Everyone in the office is more than willing to help, I am able to send a simple email asking for anyone to share their knowledge, and colleagues will respond quickly.

The amount I’ve learned has been eye-opening. The main achievement for me was developing my project management skills so that I can feel knowledgeable and confident enough to manage some global software project meetings, especially when I had no knowledge about them before I started.  I’ve also learned a lot about how to get the most of an opportunity. The main thing I have taken from the workplace is that the more you ask and questions things, the more you will get out of the experience.

In March I was asked to present for International Women’s day with the theme #balanceforbetter, to create a discussion based on the percentage of men vs females who choose to study certain degree topics such as engineering, business law, sciences, etc. They were particularly interested in how young people feel about the gender imbalance. It also gave me the opportunity to practice my presentations skills before my final year at university.

I have been lucky enough to be offered mentoring from IBM employees. This involves engaging with another project manager a few times a week, to talk about my projects and helping me post-graduation. I would absolutely recommend this for those within a placement year, as they could be in a completely different office/department that could provide you with more opportunities or recommend another person for career guidance. It doesn’t have to be within the company, as a few of the other interns have mentors they have met at external events throughout their placement. The one piece of advice I’m definitely going to take is it’s okay to not know what you want to do, but just be open to change as a new opportunity might sound daunting, but it could be the best move of your career. The majority of them are more than willing to help if you ask them.

I am now preparing for the transition back to university and trying to pick up the material again, one year later, whilst writing a dissertation on the year I’ve had at IBM. However, I definitely feel that I can now manage my time a lot better for when I return to University.