First months at the ISC

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by Mart

One and a half months of training to be a mobile developer, and now for something completely different…

Last week I started on the DoMuS project. Why the strange camelcaps? Don´t know. Someone got creative? This ongoing project is about maintenance, updates, and solving technical user problems for the document management system of Economic Affairs.

A single document management system: that´s it?

You´d wish. The document management system is an endless list of servers, databases and client PC´s. One could easily fill six of these blogs by just listing the different servers involved.

Luckily, my mentors Thijs & Matijn take me by the hand through this complicated landscape. And these guys are great! My every “And what did you do just now?” is thoroughly explained without a single sigh on their part. For which I thank them.

In the near future I hope to be a wizard in the DoMuS environment like they are; dancing through firewalls, rolling out patches like a rabid dog, and taking control of client PC´s like I own those busters. Until that day of mastery arrives, I´ll keep listening, learning, and thanking all my colleagues for their support.

Non stop learning

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By Nuria

It has already been seven months since my last blog, and eight since I started working at the ISC. Although my education period finished at the end of July, I cannot say that I have finished learning, and I`m almost certain I will never say that. At the ISC you are always learning new stuff. Sharing knowledge is one of our values. As you can imagine, there are several ways to keep learning.

For example you can learn from colleagues. In my opinion this is one of the best ways. Knowledge is up to date at ISC. From my experience, you learn not only advices, but also the best approach to perform your tasks. My colleagues have helped me on my projects and I am very grateful! Thank you guys! I think everybody tries to do their best.

Besides learning from colleagues you can attend to Workshops at the ISC. They are usually arranged by Education Committee and they are about different topics. From Bluemix to Git, to a workshop about Communication.

You even learn when you are on a project! Project experience is the best way to put your theoretical knowledge into practice, gain expertise and realize what your gaps are to focus on…you know..never stop learning!

And finally you can learn from the platform “IBM Think Academy”. There you can find topics that matter to IBM, and all IBMers, like cloud, big data, analytics, mobile and social media.

Interesting, right? Maybe I am forgetting some other ways, but I will let you tell me when you join us!

My first day at the ISC

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By Ray

February 12th, it has now been 6 weeks since I left my old job and joined the ISC. A lot has happened since then but it was all for the good.

My first day at the ISC was a nervous, but a good one. I started off with a new graduates group who. The graduates were starting their training in mobile development and I joined them for the first two weeks. That was a lot of fun. We got to know each other a lot better and we learned to trust each other. We went drinking and bowling with most of the ISC and I got to know a lot of new people.
Team Ray

After two weeks I got my first assignment for the ISC. It would be a short one, just to keep me busy until my other assignment would start. For this assignment I had to go The Hague for initially 4 or 5 days a week. Thankfully I was able to discuss this with the project manager there and we agreed it would be for 3 days a week.

I met the team whom I would be working with. they were great and I received a warm welcome into the project. Just as every project has it´s issues, so it was for this project. The start-up was a bit troublesome, the communication with the Chinese developers was difficult, but when the ball started rolling, everything fell into place. We kept moving forward, because our  goal was to successfully complete the project.

Now the project is almost finished. The deadline has almost arrived, due to the fact our Chinese colleagues are leaving this Friday because of the Chinese New Year. We are handling the last issues so that we could close this chapter with success. And then it will be 7 weeks after I started working at the ISC. It was a difficult choice for me, but it felt like the best choice that I have made in a long time regarding work. I feel at home and welcomed by the ISC and it´s been a long time since I enjoyed going to work every day and looking forward to it.

Time flies

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By Malissa

At this moment I’ve been at the ISC for a year and getting close to one and a half year. I still can’t believe it’s been that long already! Something that is even more surprising to me is that I’ve been on one account for the entire time. I hear you thinking, “That’s boring!”, but to be honest, it’s not.

Throughout the time I’ve been involved in several projects, all of a very different nature. For example: I’ve given support on very different applications, I’ve worked with some very experienced colleagues from the IBM office in Amsterdam to write a due diligence report, and I’ve been inventorying applications and making the appropriate documentation. Because of this diversity it has been quite fun. Personally I love working with people, and with the assignments I’ve had and still have, I have the chance to work with all kinds of people.

The only disadvantage for me is that for quite some time I’ve been staying in a hotel on weekdays. Even though I have a good time with my colleague in the hotel and eating at restaurants, I’m looking forward to the chance to cook for myself and wander about in my own home again.

Being an ISCer has been and still is a great pleasure thanks to all the colleagues. In my projects we work hard, but there still is time to goof around sometimes and make fun. At the centre the atmosphere is still pleasant, energetic and it’s just fun to be there after a week on location.

Just imagine, just last year July I graduated and now I’m working at the ISC, having fun with colleagues and gaining more and more experience each day.

But whatever happens, one thing is certain: Time sure flies when you’re having fun!

Valuable lessons from the depths of IT

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By Albert

<2014>

Hey all and welcome to the ISC Groningen’s blog! Many of you know me already, but those who don’t – my name is Albert and I’ve been working at the ISC for almost a year now as a Salesforce & Application developer. When people hear that you work in IT, the first association is that you have a boring desk job and nothing is really happening around you. If I would tell you that the job/year so far was boring, I would be lying to you. I managed to shift my perspective within the ISC from more of a technical job role to a more creative one by joining the ISC Design Team, which gave me the possibility to express my creativity and make our clients happy with what they want to see while implementing elements from IBM Design Thinking. In a previous blog post you might have read about the Design Camp we hosted numerous times, and what it is about. If you read it, you already know, if not – * Look it up :) *

As 2014 rolled off the stage to make room for the new & shiny 2015, I learned some valuable lessons which I would like to share with you:

• IT is the only place where a semi-colon means more than in an English exam.
• The best method for accelerating a computer is the one that boosts it by 9.8 m/s2.
• Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
• Simplicity is the soul of efficiency.

</2014>

<2015>

New Year, new beginning, right? WRONG!!

I firmly believe that one should not stop improving regardless of the time of the year. I think that having such a work atmosphere as the ISC has, brings the best out of you and also makes you strive for better self-improvement constantly.

After this has been said – I begin to wonder what the next lessons for this year will be… Stay tuned if you want to see what 2015 brings us…

… </2015>

Insider tips: A few pointers on personal development

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By Jelle

1. BE PREPARED
If you want to come across as professional, you had better be prepared. There is nothing more disappointing than failing to answer a question or failing to provide your anticipated deliverables. Moreover, if you want to get ahead of the rest, you should exceed the expectations of ‘the people’. This can sometimes be as easy as preparing a little bit more, in order to have all your bases covered. In our job roles this might mean studying technologies and techniques and being able to present the best approach.
Besides the beautiful deliverables we’re working on, there is another moment in our culture during which we are able to shine: meetings. Whenever you have a meeting, take some time beforehand to clarify for yourself why you are there. Go over the agenda and mark down the important points. If you want to state your case for something, you should have your arguments ready. It also does not hurt to imagine beforehand what other people’s reactions might be to your proposal. However, think twice before you start inviting people for a meeting. Time is money, and putting a bunch of people in one room better be worth the total amount of hours it takes up.

2. BE INVOLVED
The ISC is just a year old, which means that a lot of aspects of our organisation are still taking shape. This also means that you can still have a say in how things will ultimately be. So, don’t shy away from giving your opinion. When you do give your opinion, however, make sure that you state your case to your best ability (be prepared!).
Going outside of your job description does not only aid in bringing something extra to your colleagues and you, it also helps you to develop new skills. These skills might come in handy in a future role. The great thing about working for such a young organisation is that you have a lot of opportunities to develop skills that you would not develop in an ordinary development/testing job. However, it does require some true involvement. You will find, though, that what goes around, comes around.

3. BE RELIABLE
Within your job role, or perhaps one of the before mentioned special endeavors, you should always stick to your promises. If people count on you, you had better not let them down. It is easy to say that you will deliver, but make sure you commit to it. Otherwise your name will be besmirched before you know it, and it is hard to get rid of this stain of unreliability. So, in short, deliver where you promise, and if you can’t, let it be known in due time.

4. BE CONNECTED
Networking is important, and the efforts you put into connecting with other people will almost certainly pay off at some point in the future. Knowing more people means that you have more possibilities for getting things done. You will be more resourceful in solving problems at hand. Next to that, you can see more opportunities, where others can’t see them because you know the guy who is the missing piece of the puzzle. A good network works two ways, next to knowing people that might be able to help you, people know you and know what you can do for them. This might yield some pretty rewarding experiences in the future as well.

5. STAY CURIOUS
Working in a young and vibrant center, it is expected of us that we stay on top of developments and that we are curious about what’s out there. What can help you and is a must-know in your job role or project? By staying up to date, you can go the extra mile more easily, impress your clients and by extension do well in your job.

6. ENJOY YOUR WORK
Lastly and most importantly: nothing is more important than going to work with a smile on your face. For me this means cycling to a beautiful office in the center of Groningen with 75 like-minded young individuals, where I get challenged and learn something new every day.

“OMG… It broke again!” a.k.a. My Hursley Experience

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By Aleks

Well, it’s about time I tell you my story. :) My name is Aleks and I am an application developer here at the ISC Groningen. I have been mostly engaged in mobile and front-end development, which, let me tell you, can be very interesting, fun and rewarding. But don’t be fooled, it also gets quite stressful sometimes and that’s when you might hear me say: “OMG… It broke again!”

Currently, I am working on an internal IBM project based in the UK, so every once in a while I get to pay a visit to the IBM Husley office in Winchester. Actually, travelling is part of the working routine for the most of us. Personally, I really enjoy it, as I get to see new places and meet a lot of new faces. Getting to know other cultures most certainly is a really enriching experience. Let me tell you about my Hursley experience!

The IBM Hursley facilities are huge and you can literally get lost. Well, I didn’t, but judging by the suggestions for directions I was getting by chatting with colleagues, I must have looked like I was lost! :D During my last visit, having already gained enough confidence to wander around, I stopped by the IBM Galileo Centre. It’s a pretty fascinating place, equipped with industry labs and all kinds of simulating environments, where you can give freedom to your imagination to develop a certain business solution and “unleash the potential in your own innovation”. It’s where a lot of client meetings and showcases are held.

And that is not all… Coming out of the centre I proceeded to take a hike through the IBM Hursley Park, paying my respects to the Hursley House as I walked by. It is considered to have been built in the early 18th century and since then has had various purposes, including being made available as a nursing hospital during the First World War. Nowadays, it’s part of IBMs development laboratories and is used as an Executive Briefing Centre. It is also the home of the IBM Hursley Museum. Pretty enriching so far, isn’t it! :)

Hursley House


Source: http://www-05.ibm.com/uk/clientcentre/hursley/visit-hursley.html

The city of Winchester itself, that I only got to see at night, I perceived as very romantic. For such a small place, with a population of only 120 000 people, it has a lot of beautiful sights to offer. The Cathedral, Wolvesey Castle and Palace, Winchester Guildhall are only a few of its landmarks. But most enjoyable for me to experience was the short walk I took by the river…

Well, it’s getting late so time to go back! See you again Hursley. Au revoir, Winchester!

16 new hires already

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2015 is off to a good start with 16 new hires in the first days of January. This is their story so far. Better watch them, they are here to stay.

By Meyke

First of all, let me start by introducing our team once more. It is of course very important to remember us. We are Rik, Eline, Ray, Cesare, Kirth, Aron, Eelco, Sneha, Smitha, Michael, Marco, Mart, Niels, Nicole, Edgar and Meyke. Not that hard to remember in one sentence. Repetition is the key. At least, that´s what we have learned during the first week of work. We started this adventure with learning who we really are and where we stand in the organization. It took some time to figure out the complex structure of IBM and ISC, but now we have a clue (more or less) thanks to Carola and her yellow dress. After discovering the great inventions of IBM it was time to install a printer. It was a very intensive and complex business day. We had to find out where the printers were, if we should choose color or black, wrong or right, right or wrong? Yes ladies and gentlemen, the struggles of the IT-world.

isc group 10


Consultancy, consult, con Alexis and Noud

Squeeze us! “I am a lemon and he is an orange” as said by Alexis with a big smile upon his face. And that´s what we did. We squeezed all the information out of them about how to communicate, give a presentation and give feedback to each other. And of course teamwork. Ever built a tower of spaghetti? You should! It gives you a great idea of how your team is operating. Or of course you can built an app and see how far you will come.


Pizza-time

And last but not least, it was time for pizza and drinks. A well deserved meal for all the hard work and a nice chance to meet our colleagues. We created multiple eccentric drawings and celebrated and most of all celebrated.. Did I mentioned celebrating? Well, we celebrated the fact we´re hired and the warm welcome of our new colleagues. No sarcastic undertone. We are very grateful to work for this company and to work with all our new awesome colleagues.

Step by step we will conquer the corporate ladder. It may take a while, but we will get there. So please welcome us and watch out!

I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse

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By Quino

After working at IBM Services Center Groningen for a few months, I decided I wanted to join a committee. But there are a lot of committees here at the ISC and most of them are already filled, so what committee to choose?

I really value the social part of the working life, so joining a committee that could help improve ISC’s social part would be great. Since most of us are in the office 40 hours a week, I think good fellowship is very important because it makes the working week a lot more pleasant. Considering this, the Event Committee seemed the right committee for me. An event is an ideal opportunity to create friendship among colleagues and I’d like to help organize them on a regular basis. I decided to take the step and ask the undisputed ruler of the event committee, Don Martijn, for a favor and allow me to join the event committee.

scarface

I offered him ‘more social activities’ in return, which turned out to be an offer he couldn’t refuse. He granted me permission to join the committee, and I was officially part of the family now. After hosting a successful board game night and a freaky Halloween party, a few of us decided it was time for a different kind of event: the first ISC sports event. Dirk, Jos, Rene and I decided to form a subdivision of the event committee which can be held responsible for all the upcoming sports events. Sitting behind are desks all day isn’t helping our well-shaped bodies, so we encourage everyone to get out of their seats and join our sport events.

As a new subcommittee we couldn’t remain silent for long, so we immediately hosted a Darts tournament. With 24 contestants and several spectators it was a unanimous success. But we are not going to stop there, there is more in the pipeline. The 23rd of January we are going to host a bowling tournament amongst ISC colleagues. A few months ago I went bowling with the group I started with (group 7) and it turned out to be a great way to get to know each other better. So this upcoming sports event should also be a great opportunity for our new colleagues, who started the 5thof January, to get to know everyone and witness the social part of the ISC.

What I’ve been doing at the ISC

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You have to try, fall and by falling you learn. In my case I learned what I like the most at the ISC. Trying I did by doing multiple projects, falling by breaking software (just joking, it was just my virtual machine). I learned that my multidisciplinary background wasn’t a bad choice (so that’s a relief) and is a great add to the ISC’s skillset.

Design Team

With our new Design Team, I am currently doing all work related to my multidisciplinary background. From writing customer journeys to designing the look & feel of iPhone apps and creating newsletters in html. All in favor of the user (I like to understand the brains of others).

Social Media

Added to that I am also an enthusiastic ‘chairman’ (which sounds bigger than it is ;-)) of the social media ‘sub’ committee together with our intern Maxime. We are currently brainstorming about social campaigns and creating a social media strategy. Together with all the committee members we work on these campaigns and strategy to make you want to work at the ISC.

Hey you wannabe ISC-er

If you ever wonder what you can do at the ISC, this is what I am doing (a lot) and you should definitely read the other stories of my colleagues to get a good impression. Click here!