A career in cyber security

spyware-2319403_960_720From insurers Hiscox reporting that more than half of firms have experienced a cyber-attack in the past year to the NHS being hit by ransomware, cyber security is as much a hot topic in the news as in the jobs market – this blog gives a snapshot of the why, what, where and how of getting into a career in cyber security.

Why cyber security? As the amount of commercial and organisational activity conducted through or dependent on the internet continues to rise and cyber criminals and hackers become ever more sophisticated, cyber security skills are fast becoming some of the most sought after in the technology and financial services sectors. This rapidly growing demand is creating a number of opportunities for graduates to build a career in a diverse and ever-evolving field. Being so diverse, the cyber security field offers a range of both technical and non-technical roles open to graduates from a variety of disciplines. Keywords such as ‘cyber’, ‘security’, ‘information risk’, ‘information assurance’ and ‘penetration tester’ will help you to search and explore this wide range, as well as track down entry-level and graduate roles.

What is cyber security? Cyber security involves developing and employing a range of technologies, processes and practices to protect computers, data and networks from attack, damage or criminal intrusion. Cyber security, therefore, isn’t just about ensuring that an organisation has the right technical infrastructure, such as firewalls and anti-virus software, or detecting and stopping system breaches. It’s also about putting in place the right policy and procedures to ensure those technical measures are supported by the behaviour of staff, such cautious web browsing, proper use of hardware, software and data, and the use complex passwords.

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Impress employers with your soft skills

A recent study from the AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters) suggests that almost 50% of employers think that graduates don’t have the skills expected of them at the point of hiring. On average they reported that a quarter of their graduate intake are lacking essential soft skills.

But what exactly are soft skills?

They could be defined as ‘people skills’ or ‘interpersonal skills’, and essentially they cover your personal qualities, whereas hard skills are more about your ability to perform a task or activity. Soft skills could include things like teamwork, time management and verbal communication amongst others.

Depending on which course you’re studying, there might be plenty of opportunities to get involved in group projects, presentations and working to tight deadlines, but employers like to see that you’ve gained and developed skills from a range of activities (which could include part-time work, volunteering or joining an on-campus society).

Soft skills are transferable, i.e. they can be used in many different working environments, and will give you some excellent examples to use in an application or interview.

In this helpful article from the Independent, they list 7 key soft skills as essential for every graduate job-hunter. Remember, you’ll often see these skills listed in a person specification when applying to a role, so you could be asked to demonstrate them at an interview. By developing these skills across your studies, work experience, volunteering and getting involved in clubs and societies, you’ll have plenty of great examples to choose from.

We offer 1-2-1 appointments with a Careers Consultant where we can give you feedback on your CV, cover letter or application, to make sure you’re really selling your skills! Call 020 7882 8533 to book.

Career choice – top tips from Careers Consultants

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_960_720Exams are over! But you might be wondering … what next? Firstly, don’t panic! We’ve heard almost 50% of UK undergraduates enter their final year of study not knowing what they want to do next… so you are not alone! 

We see lots of students at this time of year who don’t have a career in mind – remember you don’t need to have a plan to come and see us for a 1-2-1 appointment (see here).

To get you started in thinking about your options, we asked our Careers Consultants to share their top tips …

    • Work experience is invaluable to help you work out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Only a minority of students will secure big name internships whilst studying, but working in any environment will help you learn about work cultures, organisations and working life. You might discover that you actually hate working in an office or that you definitely want to work as part of a team.
    • If you know what you want to do for the next 40 years… fantastic & good luck!  However you don’t need to have your whole life mapped out… all you need to decide is what you want to do next.

Careers Consultant Caroline tells us … “When I graduated, I joined a big business to work in Marketing, but realised quickly that actually what fascinated me were the relationships between brands & their consumers and that there was a different job in a different business that would allow me to work on that all day long – until I actually worked inside a business, I had no idea a) what really motivated me and b) that such a perfect job actually existed.”

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Want some free money to develop a business idea? Deadline this Sunday!

Not sure what to do with your summer?

Why not use some free money to develop a business idea?

Take a look at our different awards below and note the deadline for submission will be the 18th June at midnight. You can find details on how to apply here, but if you have any immediate questions, please contact Natasha on n.triay@qmul.ac.uk.

If you are successful, you would be automatically given a place on InQUBEate, our incubator programme that begins in October.  However, we are in the office all summer and can support you develop your business over the next few months.

We look forward to hearing from you!

‘Try It’ Prizes
Win funds of up to £500 to get your social enterprise or business idea off the ground. To win a Try It prize, you don’t need to have a business plan, just a problem you want to solve and some idea how you might do it. You might want to test a solution to a problem you see around you on campus or in the community. Or it might be you want to test out a business idea.

‘Grow It’ Prizes
 
Win funds of up to £5000 to develop your existing profit-making or social enterprise. To win a Grow It prize, your enterprise doesn’t have to be profitable yet, but you need to show a clear pathway to profitability. We’ll also ask you to outline exactly how this money would help you to take your enterprise to the next stage.

‘Build It’ Prizes

Win funds up to £10,000 to build a new product – an app, a website or a physical prototype – all you need to do is show your idea has commercial potential.

Student story: I’ve sorted my summer

SharikaHi, I’m Sharika and I am a second-year English student. Alongside my studies, I work as a Student Ambassador for the Widening Participation team at Queen Mary. The aim of Widening Participation is to encourage students from disadvantaged social backgrounds to consider pursing higher education. Not only is this an incredibly rewarding job which gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact on the local community, but being a Widening Participation Ambassador has also allowed me to gain a plethora of transferable skills through working in a diverse range of environments.

This summer, for instance, I am involved with a number of exciting projects. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I worked at the Experience University Week: Creating a Language. In this summer school, a group of Year 10 students learned all about linguistics, and then they constructed their own languages. Through this event, I gained experience working with young people, and at the same time, I was able to learn about linguistics myself! Next week I will be giving a speech to 60 Year 7-9 students at a celebration event (every one of the students has read more than 25 books in the past eight months!). I will be talking to them about reading, English degrees, and about my university experience. Later this month, another Student Ambassador and myself will be delivering a joint-lecture to Sixth Form students. Both of these opportunities will hone my public speaking skills. Moreover, I am currently in the middle of preparing for both of these events and already it has taught me a great deal about how to adapt my communication style to effectively interact with people from different age groups. Furthermore, in July, at the Verbatim Summer School, I will be working with young care experienced students thinking about coming to university.

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The value of volunteering

There are many reasons to volunteer, like wanting to help others, keeping up a hobby, making use of spare time, meeting new people etc. Often people forget that volunteering can also be an important step to getting that desired job or place on a postgraduate course.

Volunteering can give you structured opportunities to establish, improve or maximise general workplace skills like time management, communication or more specific skills that an industry demands – see Prospects’ Job Sector information to identify some of these. Volunteering can introduce a range of scenarios that you could use as examples to help answer competency questions for job applications and is a great addition to your CV, showing an employer that you have gained valuable work experience and taken the initiative to get involved in different things outside of your studies.

Work experience through volunteering can be vital to being accepted on a postgraduate course especially if the degree is more vocational or it’s a change in career direction.  For example it is likely that an IT graduate wanting to do an Masters in Social Work would need to build up practical experience of working with vulnerable people. Volunteering can also be an information-gathering exercise to know more about the area you are hoping to study as a postgraduate.

Remember that there are some practicalities to consider before you start volunteering like commitment, location, financial support and application processes. There are many different ways to volunteer – for example, being a member of a society committee, being a course rep or helping out at your local community centre.  Here is a brief list of places to look for volunteering opportunities to start you off:

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Making the most of summer

blog-picWith exams now over, it’s time to start making plans for the summer. Read on for advice from Careers Consultant Andrea on how to make the most of the next few months …

  • Think carefully before applying for advertised work experience positions so you identify the best opportunities e.g. what’s your main motivator for getting work experience?

– Experience in a particular sector?
– A chance to develop a new skill?
– Getting an ‘in’ with a particular company?
– Money?
– Broadening your network?

  • If you know a specific small company you’d like to work with then think about a problem that they need solving and then think of a piece of work you could do for them which would help solve that problem and add value (e.g. competitor analysis, a specific social media marketing campaign, running an event). Approach them on LinkedIn and ask if you can meet for a coffee for 15 minutes to discuss your idea.

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