Starting any position can be exciting. Especially when it’s your first time working at a massive company. I want to share my personal experience and shed some light on what it’s like becoming an IBM intern during COVID-19.
First and foremost, I consider myself extremely lucky to not have been affected by COVID-19. Many of my peers — who are equally deserving of an opportunity like this — have struggled to find positions. Or worse, had their internships outright cancelled due to the virus. For the curious, there’s a good list of internship statuses here.
The First Day
Leading up to the first day felt strange. I knew I would be starting a position I’d been wanting for years, but I didn’t feel that excitement I’d expected. Since nearly all IBM employees had transitioned to working from home, that meant no cool new office, no first day of work outfit and no meeting my team in person.
But, loving tech as much as I do, one thing that got me super excited for day 1 was finally being able to open my work laptop. One of the perks of being an IBMer is that they just give you a Mac. Some may prefer Windows or Linux, but the 16″ MacBook Pro I got in the mail was all I needed to jump out of bed in the morning.
In our first onboarding call, I got to meet the other 3 interns I’ll be working with for the next 16 months – Aster Wu, Ben Honda & Sandip Saha Joy. Everyone is really excited to be here and you can tell right away.
After our call, I realized how much of an impact my work would now have. My team works on an education platform with more than 1.6 million users. It’s called cognitiveclass.ai and there are loads of free courses on topics like Kubernetes, Blockchain or even Machine Learning.
The First Week
On my second day, IBM was starting their biggest event of the year; IBM Think. At Think, they showcase what technologies they’re investing in and what direction the company is going. This year was unique because for the first time, it was all digital and open for anyone to watch online.
For a lot of us, our first task was to watch some of these conferences from our CEO and others within the company to get a better idea of what IBM is working on.
For anyone wondering, Cloud and AI seem to be a big focus for IBM right now.
I also learned that IBM and my team in particular support self-development. That’s why I get Friday afternoons to go off and learn new technologies, see if I can apply them to our work here and explore what’s happening in the industry. I also get to write this blog during my regular work hours which is pretty sweet.
My second task was to get familiar with the many tools we use and also to get familiar with asking people for help to learn these tools. For example, to deploy this blog, I had to ask a lot of questions and learn a bit about Kubernetes, which was actually pretty cool and not as scary as I thought it would be.
My next task involved learning a new language called Elixir and a framework called Phoenix. I think these are awesome technologies. I’m excited to write some guides and content about them in the future.
Working From Home
I personally can’t wait to go into the office for the first time. It’s also pretty tough in a small apartment when you sleep and work in the same room. Which is why it’s nice that our team has an ongoing call in the background every day. Just us 4 interns to try and simulate an office environment. It’s nice being able to hear other people’s voices rather than having to go back and forth on Slack.
Speaking of Slack, reactions are awesome, everyone should use them and here’s a couple of my favorites right now if you care.
To conclude my first blog post, I’m incredibly excited for the next 16 months. I’ll be aiming to publish new content every week, mostly about the technologies I’m learning like Kubernetes, Elixir, Phoenix and more. I will also be sharing any useful tips I can about working from home and adjusting to a huge company like IBM. Wish me luck!