A deeper insight in bridges, motivation and breaking the broker

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By Joseph

So… Ever wondered how different programs talk to each other?

Well….. Me neither. A few weeks ago, me and my two colleagues Frank and Martijn started on a project that entails the use of a piece of middleware named: IBM WebSphere Message Broker. Something completely different again, since we actually just received training in e-commerce products like WebSphere Commerce and Intershop.

“WebSphere® Message Broker is an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) built for universal connectivity and transformation in heterogeneous IT environments.” – IBM.

Not to bore you too much with this definition, broking messages is simply – or sometimes very complexly – wiring and transforming the message of the sender to something the receiver can understand. Now there is something we all can relate to: communication. It is what we do every day in our lives, just think of how to explain the things you do in your daily work to your non IT family and friends. We adjust our message to a form that the receiver understands. And sometimes, like in our daily communication, this is a thing we need to learn to do correctly.

(And there is my bridge to switch to another subject, yes!) The good thing is that I´m actually very interested in learning. In how we learn as humans and in how to transfer knowledge (or information) between eachother (like programs do… I love bridges…). This interest stems from my background in Psychology where I did a lot of courses and gained experience in learning, training and coaching. To that extent, I recently joined the Education Committee at our lovely ISC, where I am going to occupy myself with looking into our learning as employees.

Bridging back to learning (again), I really enjoy the chances our ISC offers to learn, to develop ourselves. I want to learn and know how everything works in detail, and how it fits in the greater scheme. A big part in learning is motivation, your desire as human to grow your skills.

And how do we learn? By trial and error, by watching how others tackle a problem and in many more ways than I can describe here. I am motivated to learn, to develop and to innovate myself (and yes, I sometimes use bridges to learn things). To sum it up: I will keep breaking the broker until I get it right, the future is ours!

An unexpected journey

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By Dirk

Until five months ago, I never wrote a line of code. To be honest, before I was hired at the ISC I wouldn’t have thought that I would end up as an application developer. I studied BSc. International Business and Management and MSc. Strategy and Innovation Management at the University of Groningen. I thought I was set out to go and do something like innovation management, become a management trainee, or even migrate to a nice country and look for a job there and surf in my time off.

However, when I saw that IBM was hiring in the lovely city of Groningen I had to give it a shot. It was at that time not really clear to me they were looking for testers and developers of applications. This was a bit confusing for me, because I figured that the ISC would also need less technical people to support the project. Why else would they invite me to a hiring day? As was made clear during the interviews, the ISC is to be a diverse team with people from many different backgrounds which will contribute to the success of this center.

When I reviewed the hiring day when I got home, I was quickly convinced that the choice to become a developer for a couple of years is the right one, as the IT sector is a very interesting and booming one! After all, the worst that could happen was that developing was not the right job for me.

Now, five months in, I am more then ever convinced this is the right start of my career. I am learning a lot every day. From my experience on the project I work for, I am convinced that when project managers have good insight in the activities of developers, they have a better view on what is feasible. Therefore, I believe that when my time comes my skill set is going to be a valuable one.

The skill set I am building, in combination with the vast network you can develop within IBM, has convinced me that the choice to become a member of the ISC team in Groningen was the right one for me. If I compare my job with, for example, a job as a management trainee, I know one thing for sure: this job at this company is going to get me on that surfboard in board shorts a lot sooner!

Committed to Committees

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By Martijn

Hi there! My name is Martijn and I started working for the ISC Groningen back in June, as part of the amazing group 7. After our training at the ISC I became part of the Jumbo project in Amersfoort, but I also joined a few committees. At the ISC Groningen we have some committees you can join. We have, for example, the Education Committee. They organise really instructive workshops and Evening Academies on various IT related topics.

A few months ago I joined the Event Committee and at my first meeting I was appointed as the chairman of the committee. I´m still not sure if they have a lot of faith in me, or if nobody else wanted to be the chairman ;-). My first big event that we hosted was on the 5th of September: The celebration of ISC Groningen´s birthday with a BBQ. Sukh wrote about it in her blog post . We had an awesome evening, and I can really say that we, the Event Committee, left a good impression.

We also hosted a boardgame evenening. With a total of 20 collegeaus we had a really great time with Monopoly, Agricola and Robo Rally. It was a fun evening and again a great success. A boardgame evening is definitely something we are going to host again. But we have some more great ideas. Next Friday our Monthly Drinks@ISC has a Halloween theme. With scary food, a lot of Halloween decorations, and everyone is coming in costume. I am really looking forward to it!

Since two weeks the Event Committee has a subcommittee: the Sports Committee. This subcommittee will host sport events (internal and external). In a few weeks there will be a darts tournament in our atrium.

Next to the Event Committee, I am also part of the Communication Committee. This committee does the external and internal communication. We have our own magazine, the Insider, that I really like to read. It is really nice to see the team working together and create a magazine that looks really cool and is full of interesting articles. The Communications Committee is also responsible for this blog, the Social Media and the newsletters we send out.

Being in a committee is a great way to do something for the ISC Groningen. On projects, we work for the client, but contributing to the committees is something we do for the ISC. I really recommend joining a committee to everyone working at the ISC.

The start-up with a brand image – ISC

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By Jasleen

I am very excited and extremely elated while writing this blog. The reason being that I am traveling to India next week for a 2 week vacation, especially to celebrate ‘Diwali – festival of lights’.

Getting back to updates about project and work life… It´s still good :)

I am in the same project, but I have grown in my role of Support Consultant, and my area of responsibilities vary from technical support to analysing data issues to testing to transition activities; basically supporting the complete business process of the client. The exposure is good and I am learning a lot. It`s also been one year since I started working at the ISC this October, so it was time for my project evaluation. It was nice. Essentially if you are doing good and giving in your best, your efforts will always be recognized and one will definitely get his/her due credit. The motivation and support you get from seniors and colleagues is incredible.

Last week I was at the ISC Groningen office to fulfill a very important responsibility. The elections for our works council were being held and I had to vote. Deprived of the voting rights here in The NL, I really wanted to make the most out of this chance :D. So I voted, and voted wisely! The results are out and we have a works council of 5 people. It is always good to have a team of people who can interact with management about employee rights, and discuss the decisions and policies for you. This is possible at very few places and one of them is ISC. So you basically get to voice your opinion which is very important for an individual.

Coming back to the ISC is always fun. Every time I come here I get to see a lot of new faces. It`s also nice to touch base with the oldies ( the 1 year old ISCers ;) ). Also, last Friday was different because we had a ‘Board games’ event night. So people were enjoying playing various board games like – Scrabble, Settlers of Catan and Monopoly. It was so much fun that I didn’t want to leave for Amsterdam (that`s where I live) and hence reached back at 11.30 PM. But all in all, it was a great day!

Until next time…

It’s beginning………. Long way to go!!!

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By Sukhjit

I am Sukhjit Kaur from Punjab (India), I arrived 2 years ago in the Netherlands to start my life with my husband (Raajbir Singh). Learning Dutch and clearing “Inburgering” exam was my first aim to achieve. Just before the course was about to finish, I was called by ISC to start working. It was worth waiting, because good things take time to happen. IBM is a dream company for lots of IT graduates to join.

On the first day of my job I met with my 12 wonderful colleagues. Then the ISC offered to 7 of us a Salesforce training in Frankfurt (Germany). As Frank mentioned in his last blog post about the Salesforce training, we had a great experience while learning, and a lot of fun in the meantime. Last month, on the 5th of September, we have celebrated the 1st birthday of ISC. Our event committee arranged a wonderful BBQ party, which was joined by approximately 60 people that day in the office. With few of them we met for the first time, because they are working on a client’s location. Here I will show you some nice moments of that day:

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In addition we have monthly drinks, these kind of outings help us to interact with each other and explore more of our cultural backgrounds.
On the 2nd of October we (group 7) went for bowling. It was my first bowling experience. We were with a group of 14 people. We spent 2 hours there, but those 2 hours just flew by extremely fast. We were so busy in enjoying ourselves that we didn’t pay attention to who won. Overall it was an evening to remember. I cant wait for the next outing like that.

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I am still waiting for a project, so in this meantime I am busy with e-learnings, which enhances my knowledge to further help the ISC with more challenging projects!

Searching for balance and coming back

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By Mariela

Almost one year ago I started working for the ISC as Java developer. In this year plenty changed. When I started working at the ISC, as my role suggested, I was supposed to be developing software for different IBM clients. This work was supposed to be fully carried out from Groningen. A couple of months after I started at the ISC I got my first project as Project Management Officer in Amersfoort.

Being in a high priority – high risk project it meant that I had to go and work from Amersfoort. I, as many of my colleagues, was very happy about this opportunity. So, for six months I lived in a hotel in Amersfoort. Here I could eat out everyday and sort of enjoy luxuries that one usually only has once a year while on holiday.

Once my first project ended I was recruited for a very technical project in Amsterdam. So once again, I packed my hand luggage and went to a hotel. This time the traveling period was planned for 9 weeks. During this time I would get acquainted with my entire team and project activities, so that afterwords I could carry out my working tasks from Groningen.
One week ago these 9 weeks ended.

During these two projects, while working and living somewhere else, I found myself trying to find the right balance between my work in one city and my life in another. This was not very easy, specially as between projects I got married and had to plan the entire wedding. There was definitely much more I wanted to do than what I actually had time for. This experience made me aware of how difficult it is to recognize and accept your own limitations. As a result of this, I learned to say no.

Even though the ISC is a very open organization, where ISCers are willing to help each other and go the extra mile to perform as expected. Nonetheless, once your limits are being met, it is understandable to say no. This can actually be very good for your career as you will find yourself doing things that you really want and can, instead of running around trying to accomplish everything that comes around plus your own personal commitments. Even though this was very difficult for me to first accept, once I did, I found myself more at peace.

Since last Monday I am working again in our ISC office in Groningen. This now feels a bit like coming back home. Although I still need to catch up with all the ISCers hired in the past months, it feels like if I never left. On the personal side, I now have more time to meet up with friends, reaching a better balance between the work and private life.

Finally, it is my time to write for our blog.

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My name is Orkhan. I am from Azerbaijan and I am 25 year old. I joined the ISC in June and currently, I am working as a SalesForce developer. First of all, I have to say that my last 3.5 months at the ISC have been great (in our group, group 7, terminology: “cray-cray”), especially my colleagues (amazing people!!!!) and our beautiful center.

I am going to tell you about my experience at my first project. In the beginning of August, I started my first SalesForce project as one of the seven SalesForce developers (“Seven Samurai”) at the ISC. Even though I was expecting an assisting role, it turned out that I was going to be the main SalesForce developer in the project. That was really surprising since depending on the client requirements you can go as far as from building configuration based functionalities and writing JavaScript to creating Visualforce pages and writing Apex triggers and Apex classes. Well, the last part is quite challenging since Apex is a language specific for SalesForce which looks like Java but acts like database SPs. The good news is that after 1.5 months we have nearly finished the project and fulfilled all the customer requirements. As snapshots of my time in this project I want share few points:

1. Glocal (Global-Local) Team and Global client: We as a team of IBMers from the Netherlands, Germany and the UK are working for (with) our client which is a global operating company. Our weekly meetings with client through web conference host people from different countries both from IBM and from the client. I can say that collaboration across countries to create value which will be utilized globally is an amazing experience. Now I understand better that our solutions create value across borders just like IBMers.
2. Amazing colleagues: One of the things I (and most probably, my colleagues as well) remember from this time is the fact that I have asked too many questions. However, every time I approach my colleagues they are very welcome to help, discuss and figure out things together. I am really grateful for this. Also, I think the support and motivation among us at ISC is an indispensable driver for our development and success. We are always one team even though we work on different projects!
3. To be continued….

One big diverse year.. from java developer to uX designer

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It’s been a while since I wrote a blogpost for this blog. I have been working for the ISC for a year now, and a lot has changed since I started..

In October 2013 I started as a java developer and worked as a programmer, administrator and project management officer. But starting from July 2014 I work as an UX designer on a project for different clients. For this project I’m creating user journeys, animation movies, but the most important and fun part of this project is designing mobile apps. As an UX designer I create designs for the end user in a really awesome team. The team consists of two developers, a team lead/designer and me. To keep myself busy next to my project I joined the communication committee, part of my job in this committee. Part of my job is to create different internal and external graphics. In December 2013 we introduced the Insider, a magazine for ISC employees. This magazine will be issued four times a year to give insight in what’s happening at the office. Tips for the job, lunch diner and drinks suggestions (1), city/work trips from colleagues (2) and other fun articles can be found in here.

Because of my new (3) job role I attended to the IBM design camp in May. Four colleagues that also joined the training wrote reviews about the design camp for the Insider. You can read the reviews below to get an idea of what we have been doing this year and to see another side (4) of IBM.

1. (a lot of colleagues are staying in different city’s every now and then, thanks to this topic you never have to eat pizza in your hotel room again.)
2. (because, we do travel the world for our job and let’s be honest, what is cooler than seeing the world while your boss is paying for you tickets and hotel)
3. (well I already was a designer but I quitted for a while, because sometimes you need to develop yourself in different area’s right?)
4. (other than.. die hard programming languages, java, software, code and yeah.. coding again)

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My first projects

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By Harma

As Quino already mentioned in his blog post, our group has finished training and we started with our first project. At the first day after my training I started with a small design project. I liked it a lot and felt comfortable with it, since I have a background as a (graphic) designer. I could put a lot into practice of my previous work experience and knowledge! I created the design of a mobile app for this project.

After the first project I started at a completely different project. During the training we learned about Websphere Commerce. My colleague Dirk and I started as Websphere Commerce developers in Amsterdam At this moment I already work on this project for a month and every day I learn a lot of new things about programming. 2 to 3 days a week we work in Amsterdam and it´s a nice opportunity to discover the city with your colleagues and to choose a new nice hotel.

The two projects reflect on what I would like to do at the ISC: learning more about programming and combining it with my design skills. If I look back at the first months I can say I learned a lot and I am sure I will keep learning a lot in the coming months. But first it´s almost time for me to go on a holiday!

One extraordinary year

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By Nynke

Hi all,

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, and a lot has happened since…
On the first of September, I -and of course the other 17 people who started at that date- will be employed at the ISC for exactly one year. And look how far we’ve come?! This joyous event of course has to be celebrated during a get-together with those people I’ve gotten to know rather well in the past year. The thing I like most about the ISC is that, if you want to do something, you should just go for it and see where it ends up. It’s a bit like not having to leave university just yet!

With a team of 5 people, we’re writing preliminary regulations, enthuse candidates, and organising the elections for the works council. The works council is an independent body within an organisation, which represents the employees within the company. It is designed to review all decisions made by management, which makes it rather important. Given the fact that I enjoyed being a student assistant for International Business Law at the University of Groningen for two years, setting up a works council is something I really wanted to contribute to. So that’s what we’re doing now, and the elections are coming up fast!

Career wise, this year has obviously been pretty interesting as well. Apart from the work-related learning on the project, it is all about seizing opportunities. From September onwards, four new People Managers (PeMs, first-line managers) will be appointed. And I’m one of the candidates! The seven candidates are currently in training (the other ones will be appointed at a later time), in order to become first-line managers for the colleagues within the ISC. Talking about opportunities ;) It truly is like said in the ISC slogan: “Imagine where it could take you” and start to make it happen!