Guest post from Edward Burek, Product Marketing Manager, IBM Social Analytics, and his Extreme Blue team members
One of my favorite quotes about “real world” experience and one my grandfather was fond of came from Mark Twain, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”
This quote really embodies IBM’s internship program, Extreme Blue, which my IBM Social Analytics team is participating in this summer (although I am sure the students would put it more eloquently than Mr. Twain).
We have a very smart, strategic and creative team of undergraduate and Master’s program students working on a development effort with Hootsuite. The team must present their finished work to executives at corporate headquarters in Armonk, NY, and they will be presenting with all of the other Extreme Blue teams in a side-by-side event.
Our team, consisting of Andrew, Jaques, Allyshia and Andrea (all top notch talent), brings new ideas, perspectives and energy to our Social Analytics business. Three of them shared their insights below.
Extreme Blue is an important program for IBM and the students involved. The IBM Business Analytics division is proud to support the efforts of these students, give them real-world experience and analytics skills that will further their careers upon graduation.
Entering the Dragon’s Den
Hi, I'm Andrew. I'm one of four people on my team participating in an Extreme Blue internship and working on a project we've named SAGE – Social Analytics Guiding Engagement.
I've been grouped with three technical interns – Jaques, Allyshia and Andrea – and collectively have been dubbed “J-triple-A,” by our technical and business mentors.
Extreme Blue has some serious responsibility that will surely make the summer fly by! On day two of training, we were told we had only 48 working days left. “No pressure,” they said.
Our internship culminates in presenting our project in a four minute pitch to senior IBM executives in Armonk at the beginning of August.
To help us prepare, we have three practice sessions with the Dragon's Den (a little like the Shark Tank television program in the US) throughout the summer where we pitch our project to the Dragons, who are senior IBM employees with both technical and/or business expertise.
The Dragon’s job is to break down our presentation with “constructive” feedback and our job is to then build it up again by the next Den.
Legend has it that in previous years, one particular Dragon brought a team to tears. Didn't anyone tell the Dragon this isn't TV?!? The idea is that we become a well-oiled machine by the time the pitch in Armonk rolls around.
Our project: Build an application for the social media engagement platform HootSuite that surfaces social media analytics from IBM Cognos Consumer Insight social analytics solution.
What an exciting project for the summer! I'm really excited! We'll be back soon to tell you about our first Dragon's Den.
Dreaming about IBM
Hi, my name is Andrea and I'm from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I'm one of the three technical interns for project SAGE and the only one on my team that has an IBM bumble bee bear. The others are jealous.
The summer began with a two day orientation for the Extreme Blue program. On the first day, we were told about the whirlwind of events we were going to be immersed – from the Dragon’s Den sessions, presentation skills workshops, camping, the National Expo in Ottawa, and the International Expo in New York… it was very exciting.
For our project, we have been given full ownership and are expected to have a working prototype by the end of our internship. I'm really glad that my technical teammates and I have had at least a year's experience so that we can smoothly integrate the database, server and user-interface components, and really focus on the features for our application.
Being a technical intern, you'd think you would spend your time solely on developing, but, like Andrew mentioned, a huge part of the Extreme Blue program is our four minute business pitch. Being able to succinctly communicate technical details to a business audience will be an invaluable learning experience. Each person on the team will speak for one minute each, which is not a lot of time. Apparently, you will know your pitch so well that you can recite it in your sleep. We asked our technical mentor, an Extreme Blue alumnus, about this and he said that he was still able to recite his part of the pitch for a few years after he completed the program!
I’m also very excited to be in Ottawa. It is such a beautiful city. I did not realize how scenic and extensive the bike paths are in Ottawa until living here. My goal, by the end of the summer, is to bike all the way along the Rideau Canal from IBM’s offices to Confederation Park. I'll keep you posted on this.
From IBM Watson to SAGE: The next big thing?
Hello world, I'm Jaques, a technical intern in the Extreme Blue program at IBM. Much like Andrew and Andrea, I am part of the team working on the SAGE application. When not inventing future gadgets at IBM, I do my Master’s of Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
But enough about me, let's talk a little more about the fun project in which we are currently involved.
As mentioned above, I am an intern working on an Extreme Blue program, which is a very different internship than those across the IT industry. It is very exciting and challenging, and a rather difficult one to explain. One of the most interesting aspects of Extreme Blue is that you could define it as somewhat ubiquitous. You are tasked with a mission of sorts, and you must pave your own road in order to achieve it.
This aspect is what makes it so challenging to define my role, or even the role of my teammates. Whereas other internships encompass small tasks and roles, this internship essentially traverses the entire road of software development, from coding, design and testing, to pitch preparations, and finally, the famous presentations (as mentioned by my teammate Andrew); and, we code it from the ground up. No shortcuts! That wouldn't be fun.
As a proud member of this team, I find it both a fun challenge and a unique experience to be part of IBM’s amazing legacy of innovations - from Deep Blue's tournament winning chess analytics to IBM Watson's trivia analytics to SAGE...well, you'll have to wait for the next post to learn more about that. Given IBM's interesting inventions as of late, who knows that the future might bring?
Until next time...