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Day in the Life (IBM) - Lori French

Day in the life:

As an Emerging Technology Software Developer in IBM Research, my daily routine is constantly changing. However, it usually involves a Client stand up, where each project team member discusses their objectives for the day and if they have any blockers. It’s also a chance to discuss issues with the project sponsor - where I often ask more questions about the use case and get their opinions on the deliverables I’ve created so far.

I’ll then spend the majority of the day working on these deliverables, designing applications in Adobe Creative Cloud and then programming them using languages such as JavaScript and Python. This is my favourite part of the day, where I get to creatively build the solution the client requires!

I also run a demo lab so when the office is open, I take clients around weekly, explaining our technology offerings and discussing potential use cases within their business. This technology ranges from virtual reality, to visual recognition, 3D printing and machine learning – so it’s always an interesting session! It’s also my responsibility to manage these artefacts, as well as create new ones.

I also am a part of patent teams, where we have ideation and design thinking sessions to come up with novel ideas for IBM. I love doing these meetings and find it works fantastic collaborating with others, each building one another’s ideas!

Finally, I have my giveback – which is activities I take on outside of my daily role. For example, as the Co-Chair of the Early Professionals LGBT+ IBM Community - I often run meetings to check our teams progress, help plan and run events as well as mentor IBM Executives in Ally topics.

Time management tips:

Balancing University with Client Work can be very challenging, especially as assignments, work deadlines and exams start to clash.

A tip that I’ve found useful to stay on top of this is having a detailed schedule and sticking to it. I block out my University time in my calendar, including what I need to achieve within that period – i.e. attend X lecture, read Y pages of additional reading, write X words for my assignment etc. I’ll estimate how long this will take, and always allow for contingencies, so I know I can meet my deliverables given the time I’ve allotted.

This applies to client work also, if you know you have 5 deliverables that week with even time requirements than you need to achieve one each day. Keeping a track of this ensures

you can optimally manage your time, as well as raise concerns to your manager if you see yourself falling behind.

Another tip I’ve found very useful is minimising distractions while I work. It’s been shown in Psychology that humans aren’t the best at multi-tasking, so I find that working on multiple deliverables at the same time, while answering emails, and responding Slack messages and listening to podcasts, means I work far less efficiently. Instead I focus my time on a singular task, and then will check my emails/slack messages periodically. This ensures I stay in a focused and dedicated workflow, while still responding to messages in a reasonable time frame.

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