National Apprentice Week 2024: Apprenticeship leads to full-time data security job.
Former apprentice Megan Crowley secured a full-time job as Security Analyst Assistant after completing a two-year apprenticeship with Wales & West Housing Group (WWHG).
What were your expectations at the start? Have they changed now you have completed the apprenticeship?
I started my apprenticeship with little knowledge of what to expect, stepping into a new career of information security. Joining a new company in a sector I knew little about was initially daunting, but I was made to feel immediately welcomed. From the very first day I have been supported in my learning. Even now with a full-time position, I don’t think it will stop. Over the 2 years, I grew a passion for cyber security in a company I adore so I’ll always be grateful that I took the opportunity of an apprenticeship with WWHG.
Did you manage to complete the course early? What support did WWHG give you to be able to finish early?
My manager, my mentor and WWHG were incredible throughout my apprenticeship. I was able to learn content from my mentor one week and apply it to real-life scenarios with my manager the next, which proved to be the most effective way of learning. It allowed me to swiftly progress through my modules, providing enough evidence for my course and completing the apprenticeship six months ahead of schedule! I was lucky enough to have one-to-one tutoring with my mentor, as there were only a small group of us on the course, to make sure I grasped every concept before moving on. The last six months has further developed my learning, allowing me to apply my knowledge of cybersecurity to every-day scenarios within the team.
“You get a mentor who is there to provide you with all you need to know but you also get the support from your team to help you along the way.”
Megan Crowley, Security Analyst Assistant, Wales & West Housing Group
Upon reflection of the apprenticeship, what has been the most rewarding part of the course?
The most rewarding part of the apprenticeship has been having the opportunity to stay within the WWHG ICT team. I have been able to apply the knowledge gained from my apprenticeship to my new role every day. Looking back, I don’t think I could have completed the course without the support from my manager. Being able to continue learning and developing my skills alongside him is the best outcome I could have hoped for.
How did the apprenticeship prepare you for the role you are in now?
Most of the skills I acquired during my apprenticeship are tailored to my specific job role. These include understanding security fundamentals, identifying phishing emails, analysing network traffic using tools like Wireshark, incident response, and more. Apart from the specific sector that your apprenticeship is based around, apprenticeships also ensure you have the basic level of maths, English and IT which is a baseline for most jobs. I was very lucky that WWHG wanted to expand their security team and I had the experience and skills they were looking for from completing my apprenticeship.
How did you feel finding out you had been successful in securing a full-time position?
From my application 2 years ago, I knew that I wasn’t guaranteed a job in WWHG. For me, it was an opportunity to get into a career I was interested in, and for WWHG to provide that for me was a brilliant start. When the job role was advertised, I instantly applied for it as I wanted to represent WWHG and continue my development. I was over the moon when I was offered the job; it really felt like my hard work had paid off. It is normal to have what is called “imposter syndrome”, where you feel like you don’t belong. I felt this briefly as everyone around me had decades of experience and I was just starting my career. I quickly learnt though that having multiple people with vast knowledge around you is actually the best thing as you get to learn something new every day. To secure the job role has been one of the best things to happen to me and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without my apprenticeship.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering taking on an apprenticeship?
My advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship is to go for it. There’s no age limit and there is something out there for everyone. I firmly believer that ‘life is too short’, and apprenticeships are amazing for kickstarting a career. You get to learn hands-on and apply your skills throughout the course. With a mentor providing you with all you need to know, and support from the people in your company, you’ll learn a lot, and to top it all off, you even get paid for doing so!