International Business Machines (IBM) has an amazing 100+-year history. The company started as part of a rollup of other companies that merged to form a larger entity. Around the turn of the 19th century, Financier Charles Flint promoted this merger technique by forming a trust (holding company) to own separate companies that created economies of scale and coalesced the effort to create a dominant market share.
In 1900, Flint created the International Time Recording Company out of smaller companies that manufactured time clocks, used to mark the time workers came in and when they left. Then, in 1911, Flint bought the Tabulating Machine Company founded by Herman Hollerith in 1880. He merged the companies into a new company called the Computing, Tabulating & Recording Company.
At first, the new company did not do very well. However, in 1914, Flint hired Thomas Watson Sr. to run the enterprise. Watson focused the company on information technology. In 1924, the company changed its name to International Business Machines to coincide with overseas sales. From the beginning, IBM was a global conglomerate, and under the guidance of Watson, it continued to grow.
Through the years, IBM rode the tide of information processing with tabulating machines, punched cards, the IBM Seletric® typewriter, the IBM PC, and IBM supercomputers. Before the IBM PC, the company sold massive mainframe computers about the size of a soda pop machine. They were painted blue color, which became the company’s theme and why IBM got the nickname “The Big Blue.”
An IBM computer called Deep Blue beat the world chess champion, Gary Kasparov, in 1997. Another IBM computer named Watson (after IBM’s first CEO) won the Jeopardy® television game show in 2011, easily beating all human opponents.
Why is IBM a good company to work for?
IBM continues to set the pace for information processing with many advanced efforts in artificial intelligence. If a company will create a machine that appears to be sentient with some form of rudimentary consciousness, IBM likely invents at least some of the technology that makes this possible. If being on the cutting edge of information technology excites you, then IBM is a major industry leader to consider. Work experience at IBM is highly-regarded on your résumé.
IBM operates in more than 170 countries with around 400,000 global employees. An IBM worker’s experience depends on their project manager and the projects being done. It is possible to have a bad experience working at IBM; however, there is company-wide fairness and supportive corporate culture appreciated by most workers.
Here are the insider’s views of what it is like to work for IBM and the positive impact on your life.
1. Work and Life Balance
IBM has an official company program called Work-Life Integration. This program developed due to the nature of the non-stop, 24-hour needs demanded by global information technology processing. A typical 9-to-5 work schedule does not satisfy the job requirements at IBM. That being said, there is recognition of the risk of job burnout too.
The IBM solution is to evolve the work methods to be more flexible and focus on achieving work and life balance. IBM offers an online portal called Work Life Essentials to provide all IBM employees worldwide access to helpful resources.
Some of the resources and referrals offered on the Work Life Essentials system cover these issues:
- Stress Management
- Child Care
- Elder Care
- Parenting Issues
- Personal Well-Being
2. Diversity Policies
Diversity policies at IBM are about hiring employees without paying attention to nationality, race, disabilities, or other unique characteristics. The company started its original Diversity Campaign in the 1950s. IBM launched a program called Diversity 2.0 during the 1990s. This program built on the original initiative to try to bring down barriers and understand the characteristics of constituencies in diverse global regions.
Diversity 3.0 extended this effort even further to embrace the flexibility of both the work hours and where employees work. This program is a transition from work-life balance to work-life integration. For IBMers, a family is as important as work. The company is praised by many for being a family-friendly workplace.
The benefits for women working at IBM allow this flexibility to be used for pregnancies and taking care of dependents, who are children and elderly adult relatives. The diversity program’s goal is to create a work environment that attracts the best workers, helps them develop, and retains them.
3. Modern Technologies and Work Tools
Mobility has always been a large part of the IBM work methods. All IBM workers receive the tools and tech support needed to be able to work from anywhere. All they need is a registered mobile device and a stable Internet connection with decent bandwidth that allows them to connect to IBM’s cloud-based system properly.
4. Professional Teamwork
For work-life integration, a key component is maintaining excellent relationships between IBM workers and their managers. The IBM team develops a sense of mutual trust by taking on personal responsibility and being a key participant in IBM culture, which focuses on results.
IBM values results that meet (and exceed) pre-set goals to demonstrate team performance. IBM believes that employees do work based on what they achieve, not on where they go. For those who want to show up, punch a clock, and not get anything done, IBM is not for you. For those who are self-actualized, internally-motivated, and excellent in participating in collaborative projects with shared tasks and responsibilities, you will likely thrive at IBM.
Remote workers are just as valued as on-site staff. The Flexi-Hours program allows workers and their managers to define a work schedule.
5. Healthcare and Disability Benefits
IBM offers an excellent, comprehensive healthcare program and many other benefit options. An IBM new hire is eligible for all applicable benefit programs starting from the first employment day. This applies to all health care coverage for medical, dental, and vision, including prescription drug benefits and mental health benefits. This coverage is available for IBM employees, eligible children, spouses or eligible domestic partners, and other eligible dependents.
Income protection of the IBM worker’s earnings comes from life insurance and disability insurance. This gives financial support in the case of a serious illness, injury, or death.
IBM provides many choices that allow an employee to custom design a program that meets their needs. New employees enroll when they start and can renew or change benefits annually during the re-enrollment period. This usually happens in autumn. Employees pay for their portion of the benefits by authorizing a payroll deduction.
6. Flexible Spending Accounts
There are three types of flexible spending accounts which are:
- Health Care Spending Account (HCSA): IBM employees can allocate pre-tax dollars to an HCSA to pay for certain health care expenses allowed by the IRS rules of up to $2,700 per year. This money can pay for deductibles, co-pays, and other medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance. Expenses for an eligible family member are allowed even if they are not covered under the employee’s insurance. Any money not spent during the year’s allocation period is forfeited.
- Dependent Care Spending Account: IBM employees can allocate up to $5,000 annual pre-tax dollars to pay for certain expenses for dependent care as an alternative to the tax credit allowed for these expenses. Any money not spent during the year’s allocation period is forfeited.
- Commuter Benefits Program: This program allows IBM employees to pay for certain commuter expenses with pre-tax dollars up to $270 per month for transportation and $270 per month for parking.
7. Time Off
IBM offers a variety of choices regarding vacation, personal leave, and holiday plans. These options include:
- Holiday Plan: IBM observes six federal holidays and allows six additional days for personal holidays.
- Vacation Plan: IBM offers three weeks of vacation time for employees with less than 10 years of service and four weeks for those with more than 10 years of service. Vacation time can be taken as half-days, full-days, or weeks, at any time of the year.
- Paid Care Leave: Five days of paid leave is allowed for an IBM employee to get married. There are up to five days each year of paid leave to care for an ill family member. Four weeks of paid leave is allowed for the death of a child or a spouse. Five paid days of leave are allowed for the death of a parent. Three days of paid leave are allowed for the death of an extended family member.
- IBM Parental Bonding Leave: For the birth or adoption of a child, IBM allows 12 weeks of paid parental bonding leave during the first year.
- Paid Sick Time Policy: Paid sick leave in the United States is 56 hours (seven days) per year and can be carried over to the next year if unused, up to a maximum of 112 hours (14 days). There is never any payout for unused sick days.
- Personal Time Off: A manager can grant unpaid time off of up to ten days per year. For a period longer than ten days, employees must apply for a leave of absence without pay.
- IBM Leave Program: IBM allows employees to make applications for an unpaid leave of absence for a variety of things, including continuing education and volunteering for the Peace Corps. IBM honors military leave as required by law.
8. Family and Personal Services
IBM offers the Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholarship for high school students to attend college, with up to $8,000 per year in tuition assistance. IBM has the Global Work/Life Fund to support child care and eldercare initiatives with over 300 globally-established childcare centers.
IBM offers a Work-Life Toolkit to help employees better manage family, personal responsibilities, and work issues. An innovative program is the Expressly Service for Traveling Mothers to express-ship natural breast milk under refrigeration for mothers working away from home to send to their babies. IBM pays the shipping expense.
IBM pays up to $20,000 (lifetime maximum) to cover adoption or surrogacy-assistance expenses for employees. IBM pays up to $50,000 (lifetime maximum) for expenses for a disabled child.
9. Career Development Programs
IBM invests more than $750 million annually in career development programs, including Myca career counselors, Careers@IBM (career advice), and the Academic Learning Assistant Program that pays the educational expenses for employees at universities and colleges, for employees to meet IBM’s business needs. There is also a continuing education program, which is 40 hours per year that all employees are encouraged to take.
10. Salaries Competitive within the Industry
The salaries paid at IBM are competitive. Additionally, IBM offers an Employees’ Stock Purchase Plan and a retirement program that helps employees build financial security with a 401(k) and other capital accumulation choices.
11. Participation of IBM in Solving Global Problems
IBM encourages its employees to get involved in charity efforts through many different programs that IBM supports at a global, national, regional, and local level. IBM employees have given over $1 billion through voluntary payroll deductions to support causes they believe in.
12. Employees Who Have Built a Good Career at IBM
13. The Career Path at IBM
For many, a career at IBM starts by landing a position as an intern. It is highly advisable for those studying computer science, programming, and related fields to apply for such an intern position. It is possible to work as an intern while attending school. Getting a first-time job offer right out of school is usually made easier if a person shows some work experience on their résumé. Recruiters are impressed with those who worked as an intern at IBM.
In this video, Othón, who worked at IBM in Mexico, tells what it is like to work as an intern at IBM.
The next step after being an intern is to get a job.
In this video, Caleb Curry describes how he got a job at IBM while still in school. He worked as a software developer to help pay for his school. It is fun to see how enthusiastic he is about learning. He suggests making YouTube videos to demonstrate what you learn to establish yourself in the career field of your choice. He got hired by IBM to help them make videos about the IBM database called DB2.
Career development continues at IBM after getting hired.
Kotoko talks about defining her own career at IBM. She works with IBM in Japan. She explains how she was able to make her hobby into a career path. She started teaching graphic illustration at IBM. This has been her passion since she was a child.
Working at IBM is rewarding for those who are lucky enough to get a job at The Big Blue. Everyone can benefit from taking IBM courses online to get certified in IBM software, even if they do not work for the company. The majority of IBM employees have a wonderful experience. Moreover, some of the famous IBM employees have gone on to do incredible things using their time at IBM to launch their careers.