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IBM internship: IBM building

IBM Internship: How To Apply for a Spot at the Tech Behemoth

by | Nov 5, 2020 | IBM, Internships

IBM is one of the leading technology companies driving innovation in industries from software development to Internet of Things (IoT). It’s also one of the best companies to work for if you’re looking for an internship to propel your career to the next level. Whether you want to be part of the IBM research team or want a valuable internship you can use to secure a gig at another firm, an IBM internship program can help you reach your goals.

Here, we’ll show you everything you need to know about IBM internships from the application process to what it’s like to work for the firm. Plus, you’ll discover what you can take away from an IBM internship and find tips to strengthen your application so you can make an incredible first impression.

IBM Internship Basics

IBM internship: IBM front building

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is one of the world’s leading cloud platforms. Their services range from analytics and automation to IoT, internet infrastructure, and security. As one of the most innovative companies and prestigious firms in the field, the company offers a wide range of internships and programs geared to recent graduates who are interested in a career of lifelong learning.

One of IBM’s mottos is “do your best work ever.” Internships and employment opportunities here revolve around the key concept of pushing your limits to break down barriers and create the best products and services. 

As a large firm, the company offers several internship programs including co-ops and the Extreme Blue program. Within these programs, you’ll find opportunities in information technology, machine learning, procurement, research, computer science, software engineer, marketing, legal-intellectual property law, finance, human resources, design patterns, and various developer roles. In addition, their Chief Analytics Office (CAO) internship program offers opportunities for data scientists and consultants.

There are several internship opportunities at locations across the United States. Every year, there are internship programs at the headquarters in New York as well as the Raleigh and Austin campuses. Other city programs vary year to year but have been held in places like Almaden (San Jose), Armonk, and Watson (Yorktown Heights). 

The IBM internship programs feature opportunities for undergrad students, graduate students, and entry-level professionals. Programs are often set up as summer internships, though there are longer opportunities including part-time and full-time roles. The Extreme Blue internship program typically lasts anywhere from 10 weeks to three months depending on the region and the leadership role.

IBM provides detailed information on all of their internship programs right here. The requirements for each role are slightly different, but most center on a proven passion for the topic and relevant experience in the industry or desired field. 

Applying for an internship at IBM can be intimidating and with so many applicants in the mix, it can be hard to stand out. At Scholars, we spoke with Najeen Riazi — who leads internship programs for IBM Marketing & Communications — on our podcast to find out more about the application and interview process at IBM. Plus, Najeen shared more details on what it’s like to work at IBM and gave tips on what you can do to increase your chances of landing the gig. 

Read on to get insider tips and learn more about IBM internships or check out the podcast interview at the link below.

How To Apply for an IBM Internship

IBM internship: Man typing on a laptop

The application process for an IBM internship is fairly straightforward. While the process is similar to applying for other internships or a full-time job, there are a few ways you can make your portfolio stronger and stand out from other applicants.

Here are the three main steps for most internship applications at IBM:

  • Fill out an online application
  • Complete online assessments
  • Attend interviews

Online Application

The process starts with submitting your cover letter and resume via the IBM internship portal. To improve your chances, you can also reach out to a recruiter in the business unit you’re applying for. You can use LinkedIn to make the connection or attend on-campus or virtual recruiting events where IBM hiring managers will be attending. You can also use a site like Scholars that enables students to connect and engage with companies such as IBM.

When connecting with a hiring manager, it’s important to demonstrate that you have something specific you’re trying to learn. You can also reach out with specifics on how they can help you with a particular goal or question. Don’t just say something like “I’d like to learn more about what you do.” Focus instead on creating meaningful interactions where you share what you can offer and explain what they can help with. Above all, be purposeful when connecting with IBM recruiters.

Online Assessments

If you make it through the initial screening round, you’ll advance to online assessments. These tests vary depending on the business unit you’re applying to. The tests examine your reasoning skills both in quantitative and logical settings. You’ll also complete a learning agility test, which will help hiring managers understand the way you work through problems and find solutions. 


The interview process is the final step before securing an internship role. To be successful at this stage, it’s important to highlight how you fit into IBM’s culture and goals. IBM prioritizes adaptability and excellent problem-solving skills. In addition, they place a heavy emphasis on ownership, collaboration, and drive so make sure to answer questions with these values in mind.

Some common interview questions at IBM include:

  • Tell us about the most interesting project you’ve worked on.
  • Walk us through a time when you had to overcome a challenge or obstacle.
  • What do you know about IBM and why do you want to work here?
  • Why are you passionate about your chosen field of study?

You may also encounter technical questions, especially if you’re applying for a software or engineering role. Here are some technical questions that you may be expected to answer:

  • What are paging and faulting?
  • Explain how applications can use API at the same time.
  • Describe virtual memory and highlight a case where it benefited the end-user.

Most of the interview questions will center on competency and scenarios. The interviewer may pose specific scenarios where you’ll need to solve a problem. Practice answering questions like these and highlight how you worked through an issue or would find solutions using the brand’s values and your passion for the subject.

What It’s Like To Intern at IBM

Professor and intern having a discussion

The culture at IBM focuses on the idea of being curious, making progress, and being data-driven. As an intern, you’ll have lots of independence and autonomy within your project. You’ll have opportunities to leverage your individual strengths to contribute to the organization as well as advance your career goals.

Every internship starts with a seamless transition into the organization. The programs start with a three-day intense onboarding process that covers the structure of teams, how IBM has evolved over the years, value propositions, and an introduction to the project you’ll be working on.

You’ll be assigned a meaty project and challenging problems that will occupy the bulk of your time. In fact, you’ll spend 70-80% of your bandwidth on this project alone. This gives you a chance to be treated like a real employee and truly make an impression and impact at the company. 

You’ll be given ownership over something meaningful and have the opportunity to make a real first-hand difference at the company. In addition, you’ll be able to include the experience as part of your portfolio when applying for a full-time gig either at IBM or another firm.

In terms of the internship experience, you’ll be part of a team of two to four interns and work collaboratively in the same business unit. This provides a sense of unity, but also enables appreciation of diversity and thought. 

IBM has a saying: “Cherish your wild ducks.” They use it to describe the internship and work experience at IBM. Essentially, they mean that it’s important to value individuality, diversity, and collaboration when working on projects. The idea is that it’s valuable to have different perspectives working together to bring out the best in the company.

Building a Career With an IBM internship

Two interns hand shaking

IBM offers incredible internship opportunities where you can work on real-life problems to find solutions that drive technology and business forward. One of the benefits of interning at IBM is that the internship is a trial run. It’s an opportunity to learn and work together. You’ll work on real-world problems the company is tackling and it’s a great way to figure out if the role is for you and if you really want to be a full-time IBMer.

Whether you want to be an IBM marketing professional, a front-end developer, an Agile or Python software developer, or something entirely different, an internship at IBM can help lay the foundation for a successful career. The work environment centers on creativity, problem-solving, and hard work — key skills you’ll need for any position whether you’re into marketing operations or discovering new technologies.

Sign up for Scholars today to learn more about internship opportunities at companies like IBM. You’ll find tips for developing skills and strengthening your application so you can land your dream job at tech firms and in other industries around the globe.

About Scholars

Scholars helps companies build engaging candidate experiences at scale. Create personalized journeys for all of your candidates from application through onboarding.

About Scholars

Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.