I’ve been interested in technology my whole life, did ICT for GCSEs and A levels. I then did a level 3 infrastructure technician apprenticeship. I knew I wanted to go into cyber security from the very beginning. It’s worth mentioning that the only experience in the IT industry I ever had was IT support.
Prior to the apprenticeship, I was a Kali Linux user going through a myriad of free YouTube hacking courses, as well as some paid Udemy ones. However, I did not have structure to what I was learning. The main problem with this was I was missing the networking aspect needed to fully comprehend and appreciate hacking for what it is.
Doing an apprenticeship, you have an employer as well as a separate training provider who focuses on your training program giving the whole learning experience structure and organisation.
The apprenticeship is 24 months long and roughly every 3-4 months I will be going to a training facility to complete the following modules. They range between 3-4 consecutive study days where I am off work.
- CompTIA Network+
- Cyber Introduction
- Python Fundamentals
- CompTIA Security +
- EC-Council Certified Network Defender
It is worth pointing out that these modules are mandatory to complete the apprenticeship and you do not need to do any exams to gain the Level 4 qualification.
Exams are not the only thing I need to work towards. I am also provided with certain criteria to pass the apprenticeship. This must be evidenced in the coursework I provide, which will be assessed at the end by an third-party assessor. With that being said, the apprenticeship is structured so that out of the X amount of contracted hours; 20% of them need to be ‘off the job’ time. Time I need to spend revising and doing coursework.
I have 2 mentors, one from Hounslow and one from the training provider. These 2 mentors co-operate to make sure that I meet all the criteria to pass.
In my current role, I am still slowly gaining access to all the tools I need to do all aspects of my work. So far I got the responsibility to manage the request queue as well as access to some of the cyber sec tools. I have got the opportunity to shadow people on site, which included getting an inside look at the infrastructure etc. I am also engaging myself with colleagues from other departments as well as senior members of the council. It is a very interesting experience to see how an organisation such as a council works from the inside. I never really thought about how all different sectors need to cooperate in order for the council to be fully functional.
Before I started working, I thought that the cyber security industry will be very serious and only work-oriented, which I was mentally prepared for. To my surprise, the team knows when to be serious and when to have a laugh, which I really appreciate. On a daily basis I get positive influence from very knowledgeable people about cyber sec, but not only cyber sec.
I tend to ask a lot of questions, as I like to fully understand everything I am involved with. So far there wasn’t a time where anyone asked didn’t have a very good answer to any of them.
Overall Hounslow is a great place to work at. The company is full of nice genuine people that want to do something good for the community. What better personal qualities would anyone rather be around?