UWE Bristol student Samira collecting a prize at 'Celebrating UWE Talent' evening

Samira's sandwich placement - IBM

Foreign travel, rubbing shoulders with Lord Coe and launching her own app: thanks to a placement with IBM, it was an unforgettable sandwich year for Samira.

Great connections with the outside world

When Samira was working Sunday shifts as a fashion sales advisor, she never imagined that her experiences would be discussed at boardroom level – let alone that she would find herself delivering a presentation to the CEO of a major retail chain.

An international business undergraduate on track to achieve a first-class honours degree, Samira's CV is impressive by the standards of most 21-year-olds. Arctic expedition member, peer assisted learning leader, Stemnet (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network ambassador) and now business analyst, thanks to experience with global business and technology leader IBM.

“From the outset my degree programme has had great connections with the outside world,” explains Samira, the youngest of six siblings and the first to go to university. “So many organisations would come in to deliver skills-based sessions, talk about the qualities they look for in employees and answer students’ questions.”

IBM Client Centre placement

Two years down the line and she has swapped the Business School at UWE Bristol for the IBM Client Centre on London’s South Bank for a sandwich placement. The role is helping her understand how people from different business cultures interact and has exceeded all expectations.

“I would not have thought it possible to do so many different things within my career, let alone within 12 months,” she enthuses. “Talking in front of people really excites me and I love thinking on my feet which means IBM really fits me as a person.”

Since the boardroom presentation that made her realise how even part-time, shop-floor experiences can provide a valuable insight into the retail industry, Samira has met a diverse series of challenges head on – from talking tennis with Lord Coe to initiating a new scheme for IBM employees.

IBM technology is behind Wimbledon’s commitment to giving tennis fans the best possible championship experiences and the company’s annual Business Connect showcase provides an ideal opportunity to engage clients and stakeholders in learning more about cognitive technology and the use of cloud-based systems.

As Wimbledon game supporter and devices manager for the 2015 event, Samira challenged delegates and speakers including Lord Coe to think outside of the box by playing a Wimbledon game, giving live demonstrations and ensuring that the team’s iPads were at the ready to capture all-important feedback.

A trip to Dubai provided a valuable insight into overseas operations while an interest in languages has seen Samira and a fellow intern co-found their own project resulting in the introduction of a Learn a Language Scheme for IBM staff; an initiative which will soon have its own app.

Endless opportunities

“The key thing I’ve learned is that so long as you work hard, the opportunities are endless,” says Samira, whose sights are set on a future in management within a large international organisation.

“I have been blessed with an incredible team at IBM who dedicate time to ensure that I can get involved in projects that interest me. Some of the vice-presidents I am working with have been with IBM for 20-plus years. They really embrace interns and listen to our ideas; it’s just such an amazing opportunity.”

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