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Should I stay with IBM co-oping or find another company?

  1. Oct 6, 2007 #1
    Hello everyone.

    After co-oping with IBM for 7 months or so I have to make a decision. Do I stay with them or do I move to another company?

    I know its hard to get into IBM but once your in, your almost always going to get hired unless you did a terrible job during your co-op.

    But the more I read about how IBM treats employee's it makes me kind of not want to stay with them. ( I know some people are saying, how do you know your going to get hired? Well I already have a patent with them which very few co-ops have done, and co-ops get first picks before other people so there is a strong chance).

    Here are some pro's and con's I found out with IBM
    1. They outsource like crazy, they don't care how long you worked for them, they'll let you go.
    2. Its very hard to get recognized at IBM because its such a big company
    3. Raises are hard to get because of reason #2.
    4. They don't expand your knowledge (meaning they won't send you to class to get certified for new hot technologies) unless its required but usually isn't becuase they have so many employee's, if you don't know something they don't want to take the time to train you but rather find a different employee who does have that skill set.
    5. The department I'm working isn't doing things I'm interested in really...
    for example it does more mainframe things, low level coding, very little Java unlike websphere which does all Java/JSP/JSF development which I am interested in.

    It also isn't expanding my knowledge in the sense, that if I quit IBM, it wouldn't be like I would have up to date skills that other company's are wanting.

    I would have IBM related skills very internal skills like ReXX/z/OS/C/ASM skills I wouldn't want to do in my next job.

    1. Starting salary is good but doesn't seem to increase very fast compared to other company's.
    2. You can impress people by saying you work at IBM <sarcasm>
    3. Good benefits (health plan, 401k, etc)
    4. very good chance of full time employment once you graduate

    I still have 3-4 semesters left of school and I planned on working with IBM part time during school and full time during summer.

    So I would have a source of income while I"m at school if I keep co-oping with them, they do want me back to work for them full time in the summer which I'm going to do.

    But after that summer, I can either choose to keep working for them during the fall and spring semesters and then again in the summer.

    So as you can see, I'm going to have a ton of experience with IBM and in the end get hired with them.

    I was thinking about trying to get an internship in the summer with Microsoft to see what their company is like to work for or some other company around here like Cisco or SAP.

    So I guess what I'm asking is, should I keep working for IBM and getting paid good money while at school, then work with them as my first job, and later move to a different company?

    Or should I try to get experience with other company's at school and then choose?

    The problem with IBM is if you leave them after a co-op and don't come back it looks bad on your part, making it seem like you didn't enjoy the company. My manager actually told me this.

    I then asked well what if I moved to a different department but stayed in IBM? He also said this wouldn't be a good idea if you wanted to get hired because once you move to a different department its very hard for you to get rehired in this department.

    So it sounds like he's trying to scare me and the other co-ops to make sure we don't leave his department (and its working) because I could move to a different department and find out, it really doesn't do much coding at all or maybe its just doing test which I would hate. Then I would be really screwed.

    Any advice would be great.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2007 #2

    D H

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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    This is particularly bothersome to me:
    Something similar happened to me very early in my career. I impressed the heck out of my employer my first job out of college. When my first task came to an end, my manager actually shielded opportunities inside the company from me, and me from them. I voted with my feet.

    Mr. Coffee, being quite young, you will be working for another 40 years or so. Do you think the working world of 2050 will look anything at like it is today? You will need to keep learning throughout your career.

    Your employer is not out for your best interest; they are out for their best interests. They have to be or they risk going out of business. Similarly, you need to be the guardian of your own best interests throughout your career. Your career, and quite possibly your very livelihood, is at threat if you do not do so. Be particularly careful of being caught in an obscure role. It is easy to get caught in such a trap.

    There are advantages to a big company such as IBM. Most big companies do pay for continuing education. If you like the opportunities at IBM but do not like the opportunities in the particular department you happen to be placed with, talk to someone in Human Resources.
  4. Oct 7, 2007 #3
    Thanks D H,

    thats exactly how it seems to be right now.

    He's very impressed with my work and he doesn't want me out of there.

    In fact he's trying to fire all the older guys and have the younger guys take their positions. The problem is, their positions are only good for a very specific branch of IBM.

    I saw this happen a few weeks ago I mentioned in another post, the shipped a whole "obsolete" branch to another country and I can see it being me if I don't make a move.

    I have no choice but to go back to the same branch this summer, and during the fall and spring I'll still work for them because I need to pay tuition unless I find another company that will hire me part time and still give me around the same wage, but then the summer after that I'll look for a different company or different branch.

    Thanks that was very helpful.
  5. Oct 7, 2007 #4
    Wow, I really wanted to get an internship with IBM this upcoming summer, just for the experience, but you even make that sound not too hot!
  6. Oct 7, 2007 #5
  7. Oct 7, 2007 #6
  8. Oct 7, 2007 #7
    Yeah, I've seen that before... interesting isn't it?

    Personally, I wouldn't accept the fulltime offer, only unless they offer you something outstanding.
  9. Oct 7, 2007 #8
    This is why I want to go into academia. While it usually takes like 3-4 years of post-docs to get a full-time faculty position and then 6-7 years of high stress to get tenure (this is all after you obtain a PhD of course), once you get it, it's smooth sailing. Plus, you have a lot more freedom in choosing your own schedule and research projects.
  10. Oct 7, 2007 #9
    Also, I'd like to note that the faceintel website I mentioned above stated IBM is one of the best companies to work for, at least according to 'Working Mothers magazine' in 1996. *shrugs*

    Also, the California Public Employees Retirement System graded IBM an A+.

    However, this information might be a bit out dated....
  11. Oct 7, 2007 #10
    Thats very interesting!

    Some guy posted recently on http://www.allianceibm.org/
    and said the following:

    Comment 10/05/07:
    Salary = 92k
    Band Level = 8
    Job Title = Adv Software Engg
    Years Service = 4
    Hours/Week = 40
    Div Name = SWG
    Location = RTP
    Message =
    What are you all complaining about!!! Where else can someone make 92k with 4 years of experience after college!! Just IBM! Quit whining. Maybe all you old geysers need to ramp up on your skills and stay current with the latest technology and maybe you all will still be employed!
    -Uber Geek-

    That is really good imo, if he is telling the truth, 92k after 4 years is pretty impressive, nothing like I've been hearing.

    He also didn't mention what department he is in, it seems Websphere has a lot of yougner people, and Tivoli has the old people (which i'm in). I'm in his Division though SWG (Software Group) but that could be rational, websphere, tivoli, or lotus.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2007
  12. Oct 17, 2007 #11
    Does your knowledge growth really get stunted at IBM ? I am doing my first co-op ever with IBM this winter, and want it to be good? But after reading this post I am a bit nervous.
  13. Oct 17, 2007 #12
    Kartik, it all depends on the department.

    I've heard horror stories from other co-ops here, where they havn't even programmed at all, they've just been writing documentations.

    Other people just made stupid websites.

    other people are doing REAL devlopement.

    Its all up to luck on who your manager is, and what department your in, and whos your mentor.

    What department are you going in?

    I'm actually doing programming but not the type of programming I enjoy, I'm working with old technologies (Rexx/C/Mainframes (z/OS))

    I wish I got an internship with Microsoft or google! But its easy work, and its paying the bills so I can't complain that much, and its still going to look good on a resume.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2007
  14. Oct 17, 2007 #13
    Well, you have to pick which you want to trust...the impression you've picked up from actually being at IBM, or some anonymous guy on the internet.

    It sounds like you're in the situation of having something decent, that is expected to stay fairly decent for the near future, but that doesn't really have the prospects to develop the way you'd like beyond that. I wouldn't quit...but I wouldn't quit looking for something you'd prefer, either. The manager trying to get you not to quit even temporarily does leave a bad impression, at least hearing it second-hand. I know he's supposed to try to keep you on, but still... :confused:

    I interned with a few ex-Microsoft people, and I got a pretty good impression of working there, especially as an intern. They were pretty open about things like office politics and so forth. Two bad points were that they had a problem with there being way too many managers and projects getting shuffled around between them, and with abusing contractors (the former has been pretty much fixed and the latter is better but not entirely perfect). Neither should really be an issue for interning there. Advancement was interesting...not sure I have all the details, but it seemed like there was a fairly normal schedule to it, but that exceptions were frequently made for exceptional cases.
  15. Oct 17, 2007 #14
    I will actually be working in Information Management. From what the description is, I will be developing a new product from scratch. So I do hope to learn a lot !! I was also reading your interview process with IBM. Mine was really different. The hiring manager while interviewing me offered me the job on the spot.
    I was speaking to other interns from IBM and they were like "We loved every minute of it" So yeah, I think it depends where you are working and who your manager is.
  16. Oct 17, 2007 #15
    Is internal transfer a possibility? Maybe you do just have a crap manager.
  17. Oct 17, 2007 #16


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    Gold Member

    Thats unfortunately not quite correct. I guess it used to be true but even basic research has gradually shifted towards a "corporate culture". Everything is short-term (unless you are VERY lucky) and everyone is constantly looking for money to fund their research (writing grant applications is almost a full time job nowadays).
    IBM has actually quite a good reputation when it comes to research, some of their researchers seem to have more freedom to do what they want than people working at universities.
  18. Oct 17, 2007 #17

    I guess it depends on what they enjoyed about it....
    If they enjoyed all the fun co-op events then yes I could also say I loved every minute of that.

    But to me, I want to be challenged more and work with newer technologies rather than working on being someone's replacement when they retire or get fired.

    Don't get me wrong, I learned a ton while co-oping (I'll still be co-oping here till the end of dec then again during the summer) I just thought they would be more organized and up to date with technologies but I guess with mainframes they don't have that option.

    What location are you going to be working at?
    Perhaps different locations have different hiring protocols.
    All the co-ops I talked to in-state or out of state had the same process as mine.

    Internal as meaning another manager in the same division or a different division at the same location (Research Triangle Park) ?

    I would like to move to another division at the same location but again your burning bridges as my manager calls it.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2007
  19. Oct 17, 2007 #18
    Hmm. :grumpy:

    Depending on how you go about it, that *could* be true...but most likely only if you are totally clueless about how you go about presenting it.

    I'd check into those other divisions for when you come back in the summer (thus it's "exploring" not "bailing out"). Maybe start talking to people about their work et cetera now, if you know anyone who has projects that interest you more. Looking to work with new technologies that present challenges requiring creativity and initiative to overcome because standard approaches aren't yet established...this looks good.

    Unless you've already switched around several times, it's *highly* likely to get chalked up to "curious intern that's trying to figure out what he wants from his career." If they're *really* not okay with you not knowing exactly what you want to do and starting in the job you're going to stay at for the next 20 years before you even graduate...well, they suck.
  20. Oct 17, 2007 #19
    Good idea Asphodel! thanks for the help!
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