IBM have shown a clear interest in me and that makes me feel very honoured

After completing his A-levels, Toby wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do,  but he knew that he wanted to take a year out to decide. During that year he joined IBM’s Futures program where he was able to learn, work and earn at the same time – and figure out what he wanted to do.

What is the futures scheme?
The futures scheme is a gap year scheme for school leavers or college leavers that allows young people to come and work for IBM for a year. Within that time you get experience working with the large world-leading companies. You can either work on a business placement or technical placement.

Why did you choose the Futures scheme rather than university?
I would recommend the Futures scheme to anybody who wants to take a gap year, but wants to use it as productively as possible. So if you want to go travelling, you have the opportunity to do that. I wanted to earn some money to put towards university tuition fees. I managed to do this while gaining valuable workplace experience I wouldn’t have otherwise have been able to.

What did your parents think of the Futures program?
I didn’t tell my parents that I was applying for it until I got through to one of the later rounds. I knew it was very competitive and I didn’t want to raise it as an issue unless it reached a stage where it seemed possible. When I found out that I had actually been offered a place, I told my parents about it and they were fully supportive. They said that if this was something I may want to do later in life, or if I thought it would be valuable experience, then to go for it.

What skills have you gained from the Futures programme?
Firstly, I feel privileged to be on the scheme in the first place because IBM have shown a clear interest in me and that makes me feel very honoured. It makes me want to work hard because I feel lucky to be in the position I’m in. Working at IBM gets you incredible exposure which otherwise wouldn’t be available till a much later stage in your career. I’ve learned to conduct myself in a business environment and I’ve learned how, even though you may feel like a small fish in a big pond, it’s still possible to make an enormous impact.

What do you enjoy about the Futures programme?
I enjoy that there is a large community of people my age so I don’t ever feel lonely. There’s lots of people I can talk to. I’ve been assigned a task manager and a career coach who are both very supportive. I like how the company is so welcoming and diverse. If you see something you’re interested in then you can speak to your manager and they are happy to help.

What are your plans for the future?
I’ve applied to university so hopefully I will end up there. If not, I may potentially consider applying for an apprenticeship with IBM.