How Inclusion Empowers the Next Generation of STEM Professionals

Feb 15, 2024 2:40 PM ET
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Ahmet during his apprenticeship at the Lenovo Farnborough office

Every year on December 3, the world recognizes International Day of Persons with Disabilities, reinforcing the importance of securing and advancing the rights of people with disabilities, so they can participate fully in society without any barriers. Grounded in its vision of providing smarter technology for all, Lenovo remains committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline, so everyone, regardless of ability, has the opportunity to pursue a career in STEM and contribute to the development of inclusive technology. Recently, this commitment was brought to life through Ahmet, a student who furthered his passion for technology through an apprenticeship at Lenovo.

Ahmet was a student at Coxlease School, an independent specialist school in the UK that provides education, care, therapy, welfare and support for young people who have emotional, social and mental health needs. The school places a special emphasis on preparing its students for employment and equipping them with vital life skills needed to thrive once they graduate. Through the Coxlease School, Ahmet found a space to explore his interest in STEM and began to carve out a professional path that fuels that passion.

Ahmet was introduced to Lenovo when he volunteered at Lenovo’s virtual reality experience. On his last day of volunteering, Lenovo asked Ahmet to join Lenovo’s Premier Support Team for a six-month apprenticeship.

“I knew I wanted to pursue a career in technology since I was 12 years old,” Ahmet said. “I will always remember stepping into the Lenovo building for the first time and seeing the big Lenovo sign. My time there was amazing, and everyone made me feel like I was an important part of the team. This experience was the first big step into my technology career, allowing me to showcase my skills and get excited about what my future in the field can look like. This industry fascinates me because it is constantly changing, which means there is always something new to learn. The opportunities in technologies are endless, and I am excited to explore the different possibilities.”

Work Experience for Ahmet consisted of several components, tours, meeting people, buddying and lab work. The tours of the new Farnborough office gave Ahmet important insights. The modern office space, Network Operations Centre (where the agents work) and new comms room (where all the cables connect to the internet) showed Ahmet what it takes to run a modern office environment and all the IT behind the scenes required that the public don’t usually get to see. Ahmet met someone from each role in the team to understand all the different jobs and opportunities at Lenovo. Each person shared their experiences and gave useful guidance for Ahmet to take onboard about his own career. We buddied Ahmet with some team members to he could see first-hand for several hours what each person did, how they worked with customers and to get a real sense of what it’s like to work for Lenovo. Finally, Ahmet did a lot of work in the Lab. There were a number of trainings happening for the whole team that Ahmet took part in, including Minimum Configuration Procedure which involves totally rebuilding a machine. Equipped with his new skills Ahmet took on the challenge of testing and repairing and rebuilding several machines that had accumulated in the office. Ahmet restored at least 10 laptops to fully operational condition including reinstallation of the original operating system. He also restored 3 desktops to operational condition including testing numerous pieces of RAM and Storage. These experiences gave Ahmet a well-rounded experience to understand and participate in real and useful work in Lenovo.

“Working alongside Ahmet as his day-to-day manager was incredibly inspiring,” John Reilly said. “It is inspiring to see the passion Ahmet has for STEM and how he thrived here at Lenovo. I am eager to see how he continues to grow in his career at Lenovo. I am also proud to work at a company who provides inclusive career opportunities, which will only make our industry stronger.”

Looking ahead, Ahmet plans to return to Lenovo for another apprenticeship to continue exploring his passion for technology. Ahmet’s apprenticeship exemplifies the transformative power of unlocking opportunities for everyone to explore or pursue their interests, regardless of ability. When diverse perspectives and lived experiences are incorporated into all facets of a business, innovation flourishes and society becomes more inclusive and equitable.

“When I first saw the impact VR Experiences had on SEN children, I understood that VR doesn’t care if you have a physical or invisible disability or are digitally disadvantaged – your reaction is your own,” shared Kate FitzGerald, a global program manager for Lenovo’s International Sales Organization based in the UK. “Everyone that uses VR technology accesses VR content the same way yet it’s how that user feels whilst using the technology which is different. It’s this user experience of tech we need to understand more and build upon it to influence lives in positive and meaningful ways. Seeing folks like Ahmet embrace technology and make it their passion is amazing. He is proof that tech can provide folk with a passion but also an equitable platform to initiate change.”