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Do you have what it takes to be an IBM-er?

IBM Summitby Carman Chatman

On Thursday, April 14, Alisha Bazemore, the Director of Career Services at Norfolk State, held an IBM (International Business Machines) Preparation Event hosted by Eric Dykes, who is the Recruiting and Diversity Manager of IBM located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Students arrived in their best attire and came prepared to asked questions that could possibly change the way they viewed their future in the workforce.

Alumni such as Vernadette Drew, Carol Savage and Victor Brown, an IBM engineer made famous in one of their commercials, sat in on a panel with Allandria Dawson, who participated in the IBM Summit program last summer and will be joining the IBM team in June as a full-time employee, and Wyman Winbush, who has been with IBM for 27 years and counting. All speakers of the panel made great points of advice for success and failure. Many of the panelists explained their path to success and gave the students a taste of what the real world consists of.

“Think, are you getting smarter every day?” asked Winbush. “Irrelevant in the market place is spelled ‘un-em-ployed’ you have to remain relevant.”

Wyman Winbush, who was the opening speaker for the event, had a witty way of getting the attention of the students in the room. Winbush had no problem with “telling it like it is” and he, along with Brown, who was the executive speaker, gave pointers on the best way to pick yourself up after failing.

“Your degree gets you in the door, the degree doesn’t keep you there,” Brown said. “If you’re going to fail, fail fast. Failure is a part of progress; I failed a lot of times.”

Brown, who majored in Electronic Technology here at Norfolk State University, explained how competitive it is in the workforce at IBM. IBM has over 400,000 workers and only 600 of them are engineers. Brown considers himself lucky to have been picked due to his race and the low number of engineers.

A participant from the audience asked “How many of them look like us?”

“Not too many,” Brown said.

Alumni Drew and Savage began working with IBM through networking. They shared their experience together and how transitioning from Norfolk State to the real world impacted them.

“Listen, watch, observe,” said Savage. “Networking makes a difference.”

According to HBCUConnect, IBM is #18 on the Top 50 Employers list to hire students and alumni from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).