Get your degree paid for whilst gaining corporate experience

Tuesday 23 July 2019, UCAS advice

by Danielle Ariyo-Francis

Get your degree paid for whilst gaining corporate experience

Danielle Ariyo-Francis

I didn’t enjoy the A Levels that I took at college, which made choosing a university course difficult. I ended up accepting a place at Cardiff to study Psychology, however I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after university or even if I wanted to be a psychologist! I decided to defer my place at Cardiff and take a gap year to get experience at a business, which was also something I had been interested in. I came across the IBM Futures Scheme online, which is a 12 month paid internship and applied for a Business role, not really knowing what I was getting into. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

My first project at IBM was the Shell Account, working in the Project Management Office with the Managing Director and Senior Leadership Team on internal and external business reviews with the client and financial reports. After 6 months, I moved into iX (IBM’s business design unit) where I worked for clients in the financial services and utilities sectors.

Throughout my Futures year at IBM, I was really impressed with the level of responsibility that I was given. For example, I had the opportunity to work as Bid Manager for a high profile $100m financial services bid. This involved working with Executive Partners, managing a team of designers and videographers and producing the content for a section of the bid.

Having enjoyed my year at IBM, I decided that I wanted to stay on and continue working as a consultant. However I still wanted a degree, so I applied for IBM’s Chartered Business Management Degree Apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is 3 years long,  and allows me to work at IBM and achieve a Business Management Degree from Kent – which is sponsored by IBM. I am approaching the end of my first year and whilst it is hard work, it’s extremely rewarding. I’m enjoying applying what I learn at university to my work and vice versa. The degree apprenticeship has also enabled me to progress at IBM. I’m now a iX Strategy Consultant working for a multinational client in the healthcare sector, completing an engagement to transform the patient and clinician experience.

One of the highlights of my time at IBM, has been working with Cancer Central (a digital platform providing information support, products and services for people affected by cancer using a chatbot).  My project team worked very closely with Avril Chester (CEO), which included running a Design Thinking workshop to understand how we could make the chatbot experience better for users.

Overall, I’ve loved the last 2 years at IBM, and I look forward to see what the next 2 years will bring!