(Written 30 January 2015)
When I was in my third year of university planning out my glorious post-graduate career, I spent a lot of time researching various Service “Corps”. Peace Corps, Americorps, Lutheran Volunteer Corps – any program that offered the opportunity to venture to a new place and “do good” interested me. I also spent a lot of time looking into economic “development” focused graduate programs and how to get entry level jobs at the US Agency for International Development and Non-Profit organizations. I did not spend any of my time looking into jobs at for-profit businesses, especially large corporations. Large corporations, I thought, had their place in our world – but my place was not at a large corporation. I wanted to do good for the world.
And so naturally, the very next year, I found myself accepting a job offer from IBM Corporation, a 100-year old company that appears on Forbes Fortune 100 and Global 100 lists and employs over 400,000 people worldwide.
In 5 short years as a consultant for IBM’s Global Business Services division, I’ve worked on projects directly supporting 6 different defense agencies and Task Forces, interacting with more clients in sub-organizations than I care to count right now. I’ve traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE, and both coasts of the United States to try and help them solve problems. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve also been promoted twice, learned how to effectively manage project teams, how to document system requirements, how to map out business processes, how to navigate the immense Beaurocracy of a large company supporting the world’s largest Defense program and yes – even how to keep track of the company’s profits along the way. And now, 7 years after all that research I did my junior year in college, I’ve been accepted into my first “Corps”.
In July this past year I received an email from IBM’s Corporate Citizenship branch informing me that I had been accepted into the company’s “Corporate Service Corps” (CSC) program. It’s an initiative that sends IBM practitioners on a four- week international consulting assignment bookended by several months of pre- and post- work. The assignments are all in “emerging” market countries, and support mostly Non-Profits, Universities, and Governments. It creates teams of dedicated and talented IBMers from all job categories in places all over the world and puts them to work together. It’s a relatively new Company initiative that gives IBMers a chance to use their skills working with organizations that might not otherwise be able take advantage of the considerable expertise resident in a company that prides itself on being a global innovator.
Finally, a chance to do some good.
The first time I heard of Corporate Service Corps, that was my first reaction. A chance to do good, a small slice of the type of career I thought I had wanted working on economic growth all over the world. Now , 6 months after being accepted into CSC and one month before I depart for Casablanca, I find myself reflecting on all I’ve had the opportunity to do up till now as an IBMer. I’ve been able to help address a lot of problems with a lot of really talented people since I first arrived at IBM. I’ve been frustrated and confused and sometimes bored…but in spite of all that, and despite the fact that I did not follow the career path I always thought I would, I’ve also been doing a lot of good.