Before I chose my GCSEs, I thought I knew exactly where my life would be headed – and it wasn’t down the path of a cyber security analyst. My school Ribston Hall had been involved with Cyber First and I’d taken part in the challenges and joined our computing club, but I just didn’t think I was smart enough for a career in technology.
During Sixth Form I looked for local companies that offered work experience, and Cyber Security Associates were kind enough to give me an opportunity to work in the SOC. From there, accepting their apprenticeship offer was an easy choice – I wouldn’t have been able to afford university in the traditional route, and they saw that the skills I learned through the Cyber First scheme would give me a step up into the workforce.
The move from school to work was a challenge - but it opened thousands of doors for my career. I became a STEM Ambassador and part of the core BSides Cheltenham group and can begin to open doors and create opportunities for others.
My entire secondary education took place at Ribston Hall. It was a fantastic place to grow – but lacked a strong computer science department. I knew by the time I was done with my GCSEs that I wanted to change that and as subject captain, I set up a club in the department. It was my aim that engaging the younger students would encourage them to consider the subject for a GCSE or A-Level.
Now I’m in my second year of my apprenticeship at the University of Gloucestershire, and although most people would find it hard to balance anything on top of studies and full-time employment, I take it as a challenge that reaps incredible rewards.
I’ve been honing my skills on ImmersiveLabs since 2018 and am one of the top one hundred users of the site.
My last year is going to be spent pursuing technical certifications and broadening my avenues for growth – as well as maintaining all the active volunteering and mentorship relationships I’ve had the privilege to establish through Cyber Security Associates.
Apprentice Cyber Security Analyst
Working at Cyber Security Associates has been a real ‘one-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for me. I think a SOC Analyst role is best for anyone looking to start their career in the thick of it. Luckily the people are great, so learning on the job is easy (and necessary!)
A cyber security analyst covers a lot of roles – we’re called ‘purple team’ actors because we cover red teamwork like vulnerability assessments and security researching, but we also focus on blue teamwork like security monitoring and threat hunting for our clients. The day-to-day work is incident response and can range from failed logons to investigating potential malware deployment via phishing emails. This means you’re responsible for investigating a potential incident and informing the client on your findings – and potentially offering remediation advice for a breached endpoint.
I love this role – the apprenticeship offers me training time and mentor support to move forward in my career, but it doesn’t shy away from letting me face the real hands-on action like forensic log analysis.
When I was at college, I attended a cyber careers event hosted by the Cyber Security Challenge at Bournemouth University. As a student keen to pursue a career in cyber security, I would always ask companies if they offered work placements and NCC Group did.
I have completed 3 one week work placements with NCC Group and am due to start a technical security internship this year with the company. All the work placements have given me the opportunity to explore the different areas within cyber security.
Networking is a valuable skill and although I found it challenging to begin with, the more I networked with people, the more confident I became in talking to others. Learning new skills can be quite daunting but if you put the time and effort in, you quickly gain confidence and soon see results.
NCC Group Intern
I had the opportunity to learn some of the skills valued within cyber security for instance, Python, computer networking and web applications.
Also, I was able to shadow graduates and cyber security consultants and saw the work they do to keep their clients secure.
Work placements at NCC Group really motivated me to pursue this career and I am now studying a BSc (Hons) in Cyber and Computer Security at university, hoping in the future to become a cyber security consultant.
I enjoyed talking to cyber security consultants about their specialist subjects and hearing their stories of how they got into cyber security. Seeing the work first-hand gave me the motivation to pursue this career because of the difference it makes to people’s lives by protecting them.
People from all backgrounds can have a successful career in cyber security. I have learnt that when you have people with different perspectives, a diverse approach to problem solving can be achieved.
Cyber security isn’t all about the technical aspects. Understanding how humans behave / think and why they think a certain way is also as important as the technical skills.
There is lots of support and resources available to help students pursue a career in cyber security for example Cyber Discovery, Cyber Security Challenge, Codeacademy, Code First Girls.
During my placements within NCC Group, I have learnt that the cyber security community is so friendly and everyone I have spoken to has helped me because they genuinely care about my career and so I have never been afraid to ask questions.
What does it mean?
An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organisation for a limited period of time. Those who undertake these internships, or placements, are called interns and are typically students or trainees to gain experience in certain professional roles or industries.
There are various roles that organisations offer internships for - below you'll be able to read more about some inspirational interns experiences.
Additionally, if you're interested in reading similar experiences, click the link below to have a look at our CyberFirst Bursary Student role model page for more.