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Success Story: Jack Murphy

Last week we received the fantastic news that Jack Murphy, who has completed his level 3 Cyber Security Technician apprenticeship with us has achieved a distinction. This came as no surprise. Jack has always stood out as dedicated, passionate, and motivated – even being nominated and achieving special recognition at the ITA IT and Digital Apprentice of the Year Awards last summer. Read on to find out more about Jack’s journey.

 

What have been the main highlights of the apprenticeship for you?

I think being able to engage in a team where there’s a variety of experience and skills has been really beneficial for me. I’m only just starting out in my career, so from that point of view I’ve been able to interact with people from all different walks of life who have come into cyber security in a number of different ways.

 

The first time we spoke you said: “Once I come out of this apprenticeship in 18 months, I’ll have more experience and I’ll know quite a lot.” I think it’s safe to say that that rings true, but do you have anything to add to that now?

I think back then I had no idea of what I didn’t know. In the team we’ve had quite a high turn-over, but we had a new manager join us in August who has been incredible. I currently sit under him in the GRC side of InfoSec and the updates and new processes he’s bought in have really enriched the way we do things. Looking back on myself then I practically knew nothing, whereas now I am very confident in a variety of different areas, and that really is because of new people coming into the team.

 

What were the main challenges you faced during your apprenticeship and how did you overcome them?

Can I say all of it?! I think that having that work/life/apprenticeship projects balance is something I’ve struggled with. It is hard but it’s very important, and when you’re faced with pressure and deadlines that can be quite a lot. Knowing when to push back projects in favour of apprenticeship work is something I’ve learned, but I have been so well supported by colleagues and managers who have helped me manage that workload. The main things for me I suppose were productivity and time-management, which I still struggle a little bit with. I think it’s something that many people who are starting their first corporate job struggle with, so I think that was and still is the biggest day-to-day hurdle to contend with.

 

It’s interesting you brought that up because my next question is: Have you managed to achieve a work/life balance? Any tips for managing your time?

It’s not perfect; and I’m more than happy to put the work in when there’s a deadline. I do feel like there’s a real encouragement at Which? to ensure you’re being healthy and looking after yourself, logging off at the right time is a big one too! I’m always getting emails from my manager saying, “It’s six o’clock, get offline!” I think I’ve got some work to do on it, but in terms of the organisation it’s very healthy.

 

What were the key factors that helped you achieve a distinction?

First of all, having the team around me to provide me with that crucial experience, because obviously part of the apprenticeship was learning the hands-on skills. The classes can only take you so far – it needs to be put into practice. Working in so many different areas across cyber security and risk and governance was so beneficial and important. You need that support from your colleagues and managers. I think the main thing I felt about the EPA interview was that you need to be confident about what you’re about. I was very stressed for the multiple choice and the scenario exams, but when it came to the interview, I’ll be honest I was more relaxed – I knew I’d done the work and was confident in explaining what I had done. That’s the most important thing. If you go into a subject or write a report where you’re not being 100% truthful then it will be hard to elaborate when the assessor asks you about it. Know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and be honest.

 

Any tips for those approaching EPA?

Make sure you’re prepped, make sure that you’re following project plans that are set out, make sure you’re going through that portfolio checklist and covering every criteria. You need to be able to look through the criteria and confidently be able to tick them off. You do second guess yourself though, just be aware of that, and get somebody to fact-check it for you. It sounds cliché but in a nutshell, be organised.  

 

I remember talking to you at the start of this journey – you told me you had previously applied for universities and were set to go; how do you feel about that now?

Every day at the beginning of the apprenticeship I’d be thinking about how I could be at uni. While it would’ve been a bit more fun at times, I would be nowhere near where I am today. I just think that apprenticeships, especially in cyber security and computer science, are the way to go these days. I’ve been speaking to a couple of friends who are doing cyber at university, and the stuff they’re learning is great but they’re not putting it into practice. I think certain uni courses are a little bit outdated. The way certain industries are headed, apprenticeships, internships, and work experience are the way to go.  

 

What does the future look like for you now? 

I’m very grateful to have been offered a job at Which? so I’ll be taking that position – for me right now it’s definitely the right choice. They’re a great company that really seeks to upskill people internally. I know in my team there’s a lot of training opportunities, which as a young professional is really important. Getting the skills, understanding the basics, and building a foundation is the most important thing for me at the moment. I’m looking forward to getting a few more qualifications under my belt and going from there.

 

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