18 June 2020
Milan, Deputy Head Girl
At the end of May, I took part in the 10-day CyberStart Advanced course - a cyber security programme run by The Smallpeice Trust and National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) for Year 12s interested in cyber security. I was made aware of CyberStart through my Arkwright engineering scholarship and was successful in being selected as one of 30 students for their pilot programme.
In normal circumstances, the course would take place at a renowned university with a state-of-the-art computer science lab, but the access to resources I had from my home laptop was astounding. The lessons for the course took place in a webinar-like fashion, with every morning starting with a 9am Kahoot quiz, before delving into a specialised field such as encryption, digital forensics or penetration testing. Virtual machines were operated in simulated lab environments, so I could practise using professional grade programs and learn new code in a safe, online bubble. I spent hours each day experimenting and challenging myself to complete set exercises and solve problems – it was extremely challenging.
The mentors leading the course were both experts and had previously worked for the UK Government, Microsoft and on high profile court cases, meaning I gained a mentorship from truly accomplished professionals and they opened my mind to just how vast the field of cyber security is. There is a plethora of opportunities and careers within the sector, ranging from the stereotypical taskmaster Q in James Bond, to working with private clients and companies.
Overall, I am proud to say I have successfully completed the course, achieving not only a qualification and unlocking an entirely new insight into such a diverse, mysterious sector, but also having heaps of fun in the process. I recommend anyone who finds computer science interesting to search online and find a hackathon or course to take part in, as the experience is eye-opening and it’s a great way to fill spare time.