Highlights of a cyber security apprenticeship at Simply Business

It’s been over a year since I started my Level 4 Cyber Security Apprenticeship at Simply Business. Back then, I wrote a blog on life as a cyber security apprentice and my decision to choose apprenticeship over a degree for my career training. Now that my apprenticeship is complete, I’m pleased to say that the apprenticeship route to studying cyber security was a good choice. In this post, I’ll sum up highlights of what I’ve learned during my cyber security apprenticeship at Simply Business.

Finding the right placement

When I first set out on my apprenticeship journey, I was working contract jobs while searching for opportunities. Finding the right placement is an important part in your cyber security training and it did take some time before I finally came across the right apprenticeship. Simply Business – an insurance company I’d seen advertised but didn’t know that much about at the time, had an opening for a cyber security apprentice at their London office. I met with their InfoSec team and after an initial meeting, I joined the team as an apprentice to work towards my Level 4 cyber security training.

Finding your feet

On the first day of my apprenticeship at Simply Business, the InfoSec team explained all of the systems and tools I’d be using on a daily basis, and gave me an overview of the products developed in-house by the software engineering team. This made for a great first day and provided a solid basis for me to get started in my new role.

A good place to start at the beginning of an apprenticeship is to get to understand what each member of the team you’re working with does. So I set up meetings with members of each team to better understand their roles and challenges. This not only helped me get to know more people in the team but I could also draw on my support background to understand how my role could interact with different teams, as well as the types of cyber security issues they dealt with.

As the year progressed, I got to know the team better and learn more about the different roles. The InfoSec team at Simply Business has very knowledgeable individuals in different areas of speciality. This helped a lot with my understanding of the business and in finding the best way to provide security support to different areas of the business, such as which team should be involved, when to get their input, and how a certain issue may affect a team.

During my time working in the team, they’ve been very supportive, encouraging questions, offering advice and helping out if I needed it.

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Balancing apprenticeship with study

My apprenticeship at Simply Business was a Level 4 Cyber Security Apprenticeship and much more difficult than a previous Level 3 apprenticeship at another company. Level 4 has more coursework, more in-depth subjects and harder exams, so it was sometimes difficult to balance work with study. It goes without saying that I spent a lot of time studying outside of work as well as during my allocated study time. It’s also important to find some downtime to do other activities, and I did manage to find time to do other things I enjoy such as playing games and tennis.

Hands-on experience

During my apprenticeship at Simply Business, I worked on a range of cyber security projects, including:

  • managing automation for two different ticketing systems
  • tuning out, creating and modifying alerts on an intrusion detection system
  • helping to deal with incidents
  • contributing to the cyber security business continuity plan
  • shadowing team members and helping out with security issues

As the year progressed, the InfoSec team placed a lot of trust in me and gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have expected in an apprenticeship role. My apprenticeship with Simply Business has been a great learning experience and has given me technical and practical knowledge to progress my career in cyber security.

An inclusive culture

The culture at Simply Business feels very different from other companies I’ve worked at, and it’s clear that the management team values its employees. People are encouraged to try out new things, within reason, and as long as business processes aren’t affected. The core values at Simply Business – Learning, Empowerment, Authenticity, Pioneering and Simplicity, can be seen pretty much every day and I believe it’s great that the company works so hard to maintain this even with the growth of the company.

There are many events and the atmosphere is relaxed. Of course, you’re expected to do your work, but there aren’t as many restrictions outside of that as I’ve seen at other companies.

Start of a new journey

Now my time at Simply Business has come to an end. It’s been a pleasure working at Simply Business and hopefully our paths will cross again. Until then, I’m taking the next step in my career in cyber security and am embarking on my next role as a junior security analyst position at another company.

If you’re considering a career in cyber security, an apprenticeship is well worth the journey!

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Stefans Rudzitis

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