IBM Corporate Service Corps – Terms and Conditions

Today I received a pair of emails from the CSC program leadership.

The first email was a request to complete a standard format CV/resume and cover letter. These will be sent to the NGO we will be working with in Kunming so they can figure out how best to make use of each of us and our respective skills.

The second email came with an attached Participant Agreement that I was to sign and return. The tone of this email was stern, almost admonishing.  It reminded us that the CSC experience begins now, and advised us that, if we felt we could not handle the demands the program would be placing on us, we should let the leadership team know as soon as possible so they could give our slot to someone else.

The participant agreement we are asked to sign and accept is a four page MS-Word document.  Here are some of the details…

  • There will be activity both before and after the deployment we will be expected to complete, including the development and delivery of a presentation about our engagement
  • During the three months leading up to the deployment, we will be introduced to our NGO (non-government organization) partners in Kunming, and to the actual work we will be expected to perform
  • Our team will be living together in shared lodging approximating that of normal Kunming citizens, rather than in the separate rooms in high-standard hotels that is the norm for IBM business travel.  The purpose is to get us closer in mindset to the people we are working with for, and also to add to the immersive nature of the experience, facilitating the close bonds that inevitably form when a team works together in close quarters over a tight schedule
  • We are expected to eat as locals, and our per diems will be sized in accordance with this. Also, we are reminded that the variety of choice we often take for granted as business travelers may not be there for many CSC locales.  Having lived in China before, this is not news to me, but some team members will never have been outside their home country before, so this is welcome advice I think
  • Our partner NGO will provide us with cell phones, but phone charges, internet, etc. are our own responsibility, with some provision being made within the per diem allowance
  • In addition to the NGO partner, there will be a local IBM manager who will work with us and advise us
  • We should not expect the standard business support provided by the IBM infrastructure, such as printing, high speed dedicated internet, etc.

I wonder if this admonishment was developed because the program may have had people who went in expecting something much more posh, luxurious, or vacation-like. This was certainly not my expectation.  In fact, in perusing some of the blogs other people have made, I would actually say that I was expecting accommodations to be even more sparse than they actually are.

At any rate, the intent here was clearly to drive home that the Corporate Service Corps is a serious commitment, not a summer vacation, and make sure we were up to the challenge…

What a shiny gauntlet someone seems to have thrown down at my feet.  I think I’ll take it up :-)

One final note.  This email was the first that was addressed specifically to my team, referred to officially as Team China 18, and it had everyone’s email.  A couple of people from the US, along with Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Italy, Germany, India, and Slovakia.  I’ve sent out an email to the rest of the team saying hello.  Can’t wait to meet them.

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