Not sure where you’re headed in your career but want to gain skills and experience? The twelve-month IBM Futures programme could be the perfect way to spend your Gap Year.

Maybe you’ve seen the big IBM displays on court at Wimbledon, or perhaps you remember the unveiling of the world’s smallest, most powerful microchip – modelled on the human brain! IBM are all about changing with the times and using technology to make our lives better.

The IBM Futures Gap Year programme is the place to learn the skills employers look for, get a flavour of working life, and find out where your passion lies.

If you’re the first person in your class with the latest gadgets and apps, and you want to find out how technology like this can make things better for people and businesses, the technical programme could be for you…

Tell me about the IBM Futures Gap Year programme

Well, it’s designed for people like you: you see lots of options open before you – but you’re not sure which of them is for you.

It’s the perfect Gap Year job for getting work experience. You’ll get a twelve-month taster of life at IBM. Actually, taster’s not quite the right word. You’ll be stretched and challenged, expected to share your ideas – and treated like a real employee.

Is it for me?

OK, so you’ve got the latest smartphone and you’ve done the odd bit of coding, but you don’t have the skills to work for an IT company… do you? Well, the great thing about the IBM Futures programme is it’s a Gap Year job specially designed to give you skills you don’t have – and maybe don’t even realise you need!

If you’ve got the enthusiasm and curiosity to learn, the technical programme is your gateway to the skills you need to create and improve the technology IBM’s customers rely on. That means you could get the chance to design websites and apps, help create software and – eventually – help manage a technical project.

What will I get out of it?

Whatever projects you work on during your IBM Futures Gap Year, you'll come out with skills and experience that will help you take your next step in the world of work – whether that’s at IBM, somewhere else, or a few years down the line after university.

You’ll get:

  • A real job from your first day
  • Experience working for a big company
  • The opportunity to meet clients
  • The chance to find out what sort of work really interests you
  • Transferable skills such as teamwork and problem solving

What support will I get?

If all this sounds a bit daunting, never fear. You’ll be supported by your colleagues and your manager, and you’ll even have your very own “early professional manager” – your IBM “mum or dad”, who’s there to look out for you and make sure you’re getting the most from your placement (read more on the IBM profile).

What next?

At the end of your IBM Futures Gap Year, you’ll have the option of applying for an IBM apprenticeship or heading off to uni if that’s the right choice for you.

But this doesn’t mean goodbye. There’s always an internship or the IBM graduate scheme if you’d like to come back once you’ve completed your studies. And your IBM mentor will stay in touch as you go through university.

You will need…

Most of all, IBM are looking for enthusiastic, curious young people who want to gain skills and work experience on their Gap Year, but there are a few academic requirements as well:

  • GCSEs – 5 C+, including English Language and maths
  • A-levels or equivalent – 2016 entrants needed 160 points under the old UCAS system. 2017 applicants will need similar grades and we'll update this page once the new UCAS points requirement has been decided.

As part of your application, IBM ask you about the eight skills they’re looking for. These are:

Remember, the IBM Futures Gap Year programme is for school leavers like you, so you don’t need to have these skills from a job. Think about how you might have demonstrated them at school, at home, at a club or society you go to, or in a part-time job if you’ve had one – take a look at our article on transferable skills for more help.

Give examples of how you have demonstrated these skills – have a look at our guide to filling in application forms. Ask someone to check it before you submit your application.

You need to show IBM that you’re passionate about their work and achievements, as well as their approach. Do some research on their website and think about what appeals to you about them. Where is the crossover between your own interests and passions, and IBM’s?

Where will I work?

There are locations all over the country, but there’s a chance you’ll need to move to make getting to work a bit easier.

The good thing is, once you’ve received your offer, you’ll be added to the IBM Futures Facebook page for the office where you’ll be working once you receive your offer. Here you can chat to apprentices and other IBM Futures students, get help and advice, and even look for your new housemates if you need to relocate.

Because it’s a job, you’ll be paid a £15,000 annual salary and get 25 days off. And if you do really well, you could earn a bonus of up to £1,000 to spend on whatever you want.

How do I apply?

You can apply now, and the deadline is 31st March:

  1. Head over to the IBM website to start your IBM Futures application.
  2. Scroll down to the “How to apply” section.
  3. Click “Online applications”.
  4. Click the link titled “SL & UG Application Form” under the heading “Futures Scheme to download the application form in Microsoft Word.
  5. Fill in the form. You don’t need to do it in one sitting, but it might be best to set aside half a day to focus on your application.
  6. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue button “Apply to job(s)” to register and start your online application.
  7. Upload your application form when prompted.
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