Getting into an apprenticeship was not easy, but it was, in my opinion, the most logical path to higher education. From Sixth Form, I knew that I wanted to go into the IT industry but was not sure in which area I should focus. Due to my interest in IT, I was invited to attend a week away at Cardiff University to learn about cyber security for CyberFirst. During this time, I was introduced to concepts such as Open Source Intelligence, Penetration Testing and Digital Forensics. It was very confusing at the time, but I enjoyed learning about it and wanted to discover more.

Fast forward a year, I was invited again to Cardiff University for an in-depth look into cyber security, focusing on similar concepts but in much more detail. This solidified my interest in cyber security, and I knew that it was the subject for me. After this, I investigated further education opportunities looking into apprenticeships. Then I found the cyber security Integrated Degree Apprenticeship with UWE and Gloucestershire College.

After applying, being interviewed and then accepted by Gloucester College, I was told to look for an employer.  I therefore joined LinkedIn and began my search until Madeline Howard from Cygenta suggested getting in contact with Infrastar.  I messaged Ben, the Technical Director at Infrastar, to express my interest and submit my application.  After my interview was successful, I was accepted and ready to start my first week at work.

My first day was nerve-racking – starting a new job as well as college is scary after all – but I quickly calmed down after I met everyone.  After being welcomed with a slice of chocolate cake (which was delicious!) and my new starter pack goodies (logoed polo shirt, notebook, pen and, most importantly, a jar of sweets), I felt very comfortable.

During my induction, we detailed what I would be doing over the following week, which would be mostly training to get me up to speed.

My training involved a line of video courses with an enthusiastic American who liked hats, which was entertaining.  During this time, I was learning the fundamentals of IT. Some of the content I already knew, but there were some new aspects as well. Trying to act like a sponge and absorb as much information as possible, I made sure to make my training proactive.

Halfway through my week, I was asked to choose a Laptop to enable me to work more efficiently as well as at home, if necessary. After doing some research, I liked the look of the Dell Latitude 3410 Laptop. The very next day, to my amazement, I was handed the Laptop as I walked into work.

It was a great first week – I had cake, sweets and a new Laptop! I looked forward to what I would be doing next.

At Gloucestershire College, unfortunately, there was no cake. However, everyone was nice and friendly. On the first day at college, together with the rest of the cohort, I was given an introduction, going through the syllabus. We then started the actual course and were taught about different numbering systems such as binary and hexadecimal. I already had some foundation knowledge on both of these but I found the day useful.  Just within the first week of college, I learnt so much in a short time from representation of data and Digital logic to I/O systems.

At the very end of the week, the Minister of Apprenticeships came to visit to ask our opinions on the course, which was unexpected. My first week at college was educational, I enjoyed meeting my new course mates and I looked forward to learning and hopefully completing the course.

All in all, I am super fortunate to be on the Integrated cyber security Degree Apprenticeship with Infrastar, UWE and Gloucestershire College. Thanks Madeline for getting me on the right track in my new career!

Author: Liam Wrenne – Apprentice Technical Consultant 

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