“This apprenticeship is absolutely invaluable. I’m getting amazing experience working with a great team, I’m working with a company that supports me, and I’m also getting some major qualifications.”
Meet Jack Murphy, Junior Information Security Analyst at Which?, who’s undertaking his Cyber Security Technician Level 3 apprenticeship with us. Jack is a fantastic example of how beneficial apprenticeships can be to both learner and employer, proving that passion, hard work and dedication can open doors to fantastic opportunities. Read on for Jack’s insider knowledge on breaking into the cyber industry, work/learning balance, and more about his role at “the UK’s consumer champion”.
What’s it like working for Which? What do your day-to-day activities look like?
It’s great and really flexible. For example, some days I’ll start earlier and work until four instead of five and they’re fine with that. As for day-to-day activities, unfortunately, a team member left fairly early into my apprenticeship. However, I feel this allowed me to take on greater responsibility which I have loved. My main responsibilities are things such as making sure that our communal email box is up to date, creating tickets from my pen test reports, relaying to others what we’re trying to test, and assisting with setting up a vendor risk-management platform. In regards to my apprenticeship work, it’s mostly making sure I’m keeping up with my notes and revising.
What’s the best part of the job?
It’s got to be the experience. I was going to university, I had places booked, I had prospects. I was looking around and I knew that apprenticeships had gathered more steam in the industry and the experience is just invaluable for the next steps. That is the best thing for me; and the company’s supporting me in getting extra qualifications. Once I come out of this apprenticeship in 18 months, I’ll have more experience and I’ll know quite a lot. Coming out of university with a degree is great, but employers want experience.
What made you want to pursue the cyber security industry?
Computers have always been my thing. I’ve always been into technology and building. I had this great Computer Science teacher in the Sixth Form and at first, I wanted to go into robotics because I could do the coding and loved building. Then she introduced me to a cyber security competition which was run by the government, it’s called Cyber Safe. You teach yourself cyber security: how to hack, pen testing and network scanning, and I was hooked. After completing those self-taught challenges, I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Did you face any challenges breaking into the industry and how did you overcome them?
Every single day for about two months after finishing school I would sit on LinkedIn going to talks, going to lectures, and talking to people. I was probably doing three networking calls a week with people in cyber security. I was applying to every cyber security job that I found – I think I got over 20 rejections. Then I found Helen from CyberPRO and saw she posted a job. I said I’m looking for security work, here’s my CV, please just pick me for anything you’ve got. That’s when I had my first interview and then another two with the people at Which? I was rejected so many times, went through so many processes. It wasn’t easy, but I’m very happy with where I’m at.
To what extent do you feel that this apprenticeship is helping with your career?
This apprenticeship is absolutely invaluable. I’m getting amazing experience working with a great team, I’m working with a company that supports me, and I’m also getting some major qualifications. My team are also very flexible, for example, when I need some extra time to focus on the studying part of the apprenticeship, they’re really accommodating.
How do you find the teaching aspect of your apprenticeship?
Online teaching isn’t my favourite way to learn, but Bob (Trainer at The Specialists Hub), does such a great job of engaging us. Also, it’s easy to say: “I wish I could get taught in a classroom”, but myself and others are spread across the country, so I think it’s the best option. The course is great, I’m finding it really enjoyable, and I genuinely feel like I’m learning more. I started at a base level, and I’m growing that base, which is great.
Has there been a time where the support from The Specialists Hub/CyberPRO has been especially useful?
Definitely. I’m currently looking into getting the CompTIA Security+ training, and Bev (CEO at The Specialists Hub) has been emailing me asking how I’m doing. I said I’m loving the course and I mentioned that I wanted to do the Security Plus qualification. She asked straight away if there was anything we can do to help. She’s actually been amazing at answering questions that really aren’t too easy to find the answers to online. She sent an email to Len (Trainer at The Specialists Hub) the other day just to get me some more information about the course structure, which is helping me put together a proposal for my company. So yes, Bev’s been great with that and just checking up on me is really nice. You never feel like you’re on your own or have to deal with things by yourself.
Do you have any words of advice for people who are looking to either break into the industry or consider starting an apprenticeship?
Firstly, start building your profile, connecting and talking to people: get yourself a presence. Don’t just sit on LinkedIn, start posting things you’re interested in. Try lots of different things too, like online courses for hacking or security. Also, try not to get discouraged if you’re looking for an apprenticeship, you’re not going to get accepted by every single one. Just keep going and keep pushing. It is hard. It is quite discouraging, but you will get somewhere.
What Jack's manager had to say...
“We are very pleased to be part of the apprenticeship program. Jack has been a great team member and brought along lots of fresh ideas. We are very impressed with his eagerness to learn and his dedication to become a cyber security professional.”