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Life as a Cyber Security Apprentice

Stefans Rudzitis

Stefans Rudzitis

26 April 2019

I've recently joined the InfoSec team at Simply Business as a Security analyst apprentice to work towards my level 4 Cyber security technologist apprenticeship. In this blog you'll see the difficulties I’ve faced as well as the way apprenticeships work. If you’re interested, feel free to have a look!

An IT apprentice’s journey

I've always been interested in tech and wanted to pursue some kind of career in it. Originally I wanted to go to university and do a computer science degree but decided that reading books all day and borderline falling asleep was not my cup of tea (blog made in Britain so the tea remark stays).

The choices...

I was 17 at the time and wasn’t really sure what to do, to continue studying, go to a university or approach from a different angle. I knew there were courses out there but had no idea if I should get a job and then save up for a course or something else. Once I came across apprenticeships, it only took me about an hour to settle on this idea.

A minor setback

My main goal was to be able to do a course in cyber security, but unfortunately no company was offering a level 3 course (level 2 is equivalent to GCSE/Secondary School standard), so I would have needed to do a level 3 course in a related subject to move up to level 4.

The first encounter...

The company I came across that was offering a level 4 cyber security course was also offering roles in software development and IT systems and networking for their level 3 courses. I wasn't sure which path to take since software development would help with the coding and software part of cyber security, but then again the IT systems and networking course would give me an overview of all the different IT aspects within a company. So I decided to take the IT systems and networking course.

What to gain?

As an apprentice you're paid a salary. The minimum wage is currently £3.70, the maximum wage for under 18s was £11,000 while I was doing my apprenticeship in 2015/2016. This may seem like a very low wage, but you have to take into account that the apprentice usually wouldn't have much experience in the field they are studying until the end of their apprenticeship, and that their certifications and training are paid for. On top of that, you're also working alongside professionals and learning on the job.

To me this seems much better than slaving away for years on a degree, working in a bar to fund the expenses. Of course apprenticeships weren't always as popular or available as they are now, but they give you an option to work on a topic that's relevant to your course and allows you to network with people in your field.

What happens during an apprenticeship?

During an apprenticeship you'll be working full time as well as studying. You'll also have to complete coursework which you hand in to your tutor for assessment. They'll help you out up to a point, but can't give you really technical advice (the work has to be your own).

Finally, a cyber security opportunity!

After bouncing around and doing contracts for a while looking for an apprenticeship, I happened on a great opportunity with Simply Business. Honestly, I was surprised when I first got here. The thoughts going through my head were “Professional, insurance, business", which is my usual mindset with interviews (minus the insurance). But the environment was something else, it was very relaxed, as well as professional, and people seemed to enjoy working here.

Onwards!

It's only my second month at Simply Business but I'm already excited and happy to be working with a company like this. My team are very helpful and offer support, and the people are great. We'll have to see what happens from here on out...

Ready to start your career at Simply Business?

Want to know more about what it's like to work in tech at Simply Business? Read about our approach to tech, then check out our current vacancies.

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