IBM Summer Interns Face Fierce Competition

IBM internships are competitive, say two former interns, but competition isn't always a bad thing.

IBM internships: If there is one word that could be used to sum up summer internships at IBM, it would be "competitive." For some, this is a dream-come-true, for others it is just draining.

Just ask Kenneth Bratland, a three-time IBM intern.

"When working at [my second IBM internship] there was a little bit more competition amongst interns. This may have been at least partially because it was a more high-profile summer internship at a leading industrial research lab. I was also there among a larger group of students, many of whom were interested in the possibility of full-time employment with IBM after graduation," said Bratland.

"A little competition is good as it pushed me to do better. However, it would become a bit draining at times," said Bratland.

Bratland worked for IBM while he was studying. In 1997, he worked at the film packaging division of its manufacturing plant in East Fishkill, N.Y.; in 2002, in the electronic materials and devices group at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. and, as a post-doctorate, from 2003 to 2005 at Watson, again with a team of engineers on thin film growth.

Yet, the competitive atmosphere at IBM had little effect on Bratlands enjoyment of his three internships. Aside from praising IBM for challenging him, he also appreciated that they were accommodating of his hearing deficit.

/zimages/4/28571.gifParty at Bills! Click here to read about the party Bill Gates threw for Microsofts summer interns.

"I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work for a great company, with a good group of people, and be involved with cutting edge products and research. IBM was also very good about providing sign language interpreters and other assistive technology," said Bratland.

With his Ph.D. now complete, he is a scientific advisor at Morgan & Finnegan, an intellectual property law firm in lower Manhattan, and owes much of his success to what he learned while working at IBM.

"I believe things have worked out as I am quite happy with my present job and believe that my experience working for IBM played a role in helping me secure my current position," said Bratland.

Bratland isnt the only former intern who noticed a fiercely competitive atmosphere while interning at IBM, but for Melih Onvural, it was his favorite part.

"I thought the most positive aspect of the internship was the competitive nature. There were definitely times when it created tension, but I dont think that that many top flight individuals can come together and not want to compete," Onvural told eWEEK.

"It wasnt a battle to the death, but instead a healthy atmosphere that brought out the best in a person."

Onvural interned in IBMs Research Division creation solutions for electronic healthcare communication barriers. While his favorite part of his program was the community of top-tier developers he got to mingle with, there were aspects of his specific work that added to this appeal.

"I also enjoyed our project. I feel the entrepreneurial nature of our project allowed us to take risks that we might not otherwise have been allowed in a more traditional setting," said Onvural.

That IBM pushed him very hard was a bonus to him, and he argues that it helped him get the most out of his experience.

"I think that at the point in your career when youre interning, you can only learn about your growth and potential if youre pushed to your limit. This community helped me grow by constantly challenging me," said Onvural.

Onvural did have one complaint about his internship: the occasional day-to-day drudgery of it all.

"While documentation and presentations are an important part of the development and marketing cycle for a product, they are rarely anyones favorite task. I actually had a lot of fun with the presentation aspect of Extreme Blue, but I felt that the documenting that was asked of us by our mentor was tedious and unnecessary for where we left the project after the internship ended," said Onvural.

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