James Gordon, Computer Science


How placement year helped Hull student James Gordon land job at tech giant IBM

“The year will be one of the most challenging you have ever faced – but it’s worth it.”

While signing up to a placement year while studying at Hull is a commitment, the opportunities they can present are limitless.

As industry leaders increasingly look to graduate schemes to recruit the next generation of talent, it can be the perfect place to take your first steps in the world of work and make all-important career contacts.

For James Gordon, a Computer Science student at Hull, his placement year took him to global tech company IBM.

Fast-forward a year, and James has accepted a graduate position at IBM, as he kickstarts his career with one of the giants in the industry.

“I worked like a mad man for the first two years of university, and it paid off”

“Gaining the experience of working in a high-end technology business was always one of my priorities within the first three years of university,” James said.

“My summers up to my placement were filled with my own projects, so taking a year out made sense. I also wanted to enter a graduate scheme directly after finishing university, and my chances of doing so were increased if I took a year out to work.

“I was very lucky to get the placement I did. I worked like a mad man for the first two years of university and it paid off.”

While on placement with IBM, James worked on the development team for one of the company’s most established products.

The name IBM MQ may not be one you are familiar with, but chances are you will have experienced it more than you realise.

James said: “If you have ever made a bank transaction, you have used MQ.

“Most transnational tasks in the world use MQ at some point along the way - it’s an internationally-renowned product with a world-leading development and service team.”

James Gordon, Computer Science graduate

“Everyone should do a placement year, just for the skills you get to learn”

Alongside his work with IBM MQ’s development team, James also took on a variety of other projects while working at the tech firm.

Experience gained ranged from 3D printing and Internet of Things (IoT), to Cloud-based technologies.

James also had the opportunity to hone his presentation, teamwork and communication skills, and was given the chance to travel to conferences, speak to hundreds of people and represent the IBM brand.

Reflecting on his industry year with IBM, James said: “You learn to apply your university knowledge, and you learn how to manage your time which is essential to being successful.

“Everyone should do a placement year just for the skills that you learn. I also had the chance to learning how the infrastructure of a large-scale software engineering company fits together.

“IBM is one of the oldest and most established tech companies in the world. It’s responsible for running most of the world’s banking infrastructure as well as creating new developments within the tech world.”

“It takes commitment to achieve a successful year out.”

At the end of his placement year with IBM, James was offered a place on the company’s graduate scheme.

While industry years can be demanding both in terms of hours and workload, the rewards they can offer at the end can be unrivalled.

“The year will be one of the most challenging you’ve ever faced - but in my opinion it’s worth it,” James said.

“It’s hard work throughout the day and then you’ll have a large amount of university work in the evenings, as well as any personal development the business wants you to do, which in my case ended up being a 10,000-word project.

“Overall, I made some amazing friends and would do it again in a heartbeat. Most of the friends I made are going back to the company as well, which is also great.”

James summarised that it “takes commitment to achieve a successful year out.”

But, if successful, placement years can land you with a dream role straight after finishing university.

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