The IBM Corporate Service Corps program has three main benefits – the NGOs we are deployed at get access to IBMs most valuable resources – its employees. IBM itself gains leaders with a broad range of skills that can function in a global context. And finally the employees – the #ibmcsc brazil team – because we can experience something completely new out of our comfort zone and have leadership opportunities and development experiences.
And in fact we are way out of our comfort zone, as there is hardly anything left to rely upon:
- We are in a foreign country with a different cultural background.
- Language is a barrier.
- Food is different – in restaurants as well as in grocery stores.
- The daily routine changes – so no gym, no Yoga, no hanging out with the friends you know.
- No parents, no friends, no partner to rely upon. The social network you usually have is basically reduced to Facebook.
- There is a new group of people to work with, a very diverse group with different backgrounds as well, and all people have never met before.
- It is a completely new job, with a new company, and new people there as well.
- The job role does not involve a lot of my previous professional knowledge – I never implemented a Portfolio Management System so far (they did a great job giving us work that we do not usually do. There is a Web project, but I was not assigned to it, which totally makes sense!).
- It is only four weeks for the whole project, which is a really tough timeline.
The only things that are left in the comfort zone are the laptop as a way to communicate back home via mail or Skype, and the music on the iPhone. That’s it. Even the room is not our own home, that we know and are comfortable with.
And exactly this makes, at least in my opinion, the CSC program an amazing experience. There is nothing to rely upon and everything is new, so we just have to adopt and go through the experience. We have to go with the flow. And this is perfect to learn and experience new things, new cultures and increase the awareness for ourselves. As Mark Twain said: “Sail away from the safe harbor.”