Student Life vs Working Life

On July 17th 2013, I stepped into Maybrook House, Manchester for my first day of my year-long Industrial Placement at IBM. The dust has finally settled down, and I am starting to feel like I am learning the ropes quite quickly. While I am learning loads of skills that will help me towards my degree, I feel it is the non-technical aspects of the working life that are making more of an impression on me. I will now share what I have discovered, having been in the working world for 3 months

  1. There’s no such thing as a ‘9 to 5’ job. Working 9 to 5 is essentially a standard, but in reality a job is given to you to complete irrespective of time. So in my opinion, a standard working day is how long it takes to complete the designated task, whether that takes a 9-to-5, an 8-t0-5, or (my worst yet) an 8-to-6:30.
  2. Working life is easier than student life. Most people may disagree here, so I shall clarify – Working, as a 20-year-old full of youth and life, is easier than studying. In my case, as a student, I had a 20+ hour week, followed by (ideally) 20 hours of coursework and revision. However, that is rarely the case, because in actuality, coursework takes a lot longer to do, and the amount of revision you do reflects on how badly you want the top grades. With Working however, you have the standard ’40 hours/week’ (see previous point), but that’s it, anything after that is voluntary, which means, after coming home from a hard day at work – you have the rest of the night off where you can do anything you want [See point 4]
  3. The hardest part is settling in. The first days are exhausting, in every way. Mentally, Emotionally and Physically. You have inductions, seminars, workshops, H&S talks, registering on various systems, not to mention meeting new people, adjusting to  a new place and learning new things. I remember coming home from my first day and falling  asleep immediately – but that maybe because it was in the middle of the hottest summer in recent memory and I was in a black suit.
  4. You begin to morph into a semi-functioning adult. The prospect of late nights with your friends no longer look appealing, since you have to be up at Xam to reach work nice and early. You do your best to avoid the university traffic on your way to work, because you cannot stand the prospect of sharing a bus with students. A nap or a session at the gym are much more prominently featured in your schedule. You now own an iron, and actually use it. The worst though, is the changes in your eating habits – last week my weekend lunch consisted of a salad and smoothie, because apparently Health isn’t a joke. To cap it all off, at a Children’s’ event earlier this month some kids mistook me for a 43-year-old.
  5. Long-term planning becomes more real. I am at the beginning of my professional career, and I am in my first job which is about as permanent as my UniRider, so naturally I can’t help but look to the future with the cliché questions: What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Is this where I see my future? Where do I want to go? What about my course units next year? Not to mention that your bank account is uncharacteristically not-empty, and with your new found maturity you don’t really want to bust all that on your final year.

A personal retrospective on my placement so far

I was assigned a role as a Tester in the Systems & Technology Group at IBM, located here in Manchester, testing the new Storage products before they are released. Upon starting, I was very apprehensive for two reasons: Firstly, as a CM student, I had had very little exposure to storage or hardware in general, and hadn’t really been exposed to technology on such a low level. Secondly I love coding, and I felt being a tester would not really facilitate that passion.

That being said, weeks later, I could not be happier in my current position. I am learning skills that are not taught in classrooms at a company on the cutting edge of technology, and I am still getting opportunities to cultivate my skills and passions. All in all I am looking forward to the next 9 months, because I cannot be more excited for the opportunities that will arise

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