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Cyber analyst part II: Return of the industrial placement student

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital, Industrial Placements

The back of the head of an anonymous man with earplugsHi, I’m Callum. Two years ago I did an HMRC university industrial placement as an analyst within the Cyber Security Team. Today I’m back as a fully employed Cyber Analyst. Here’s my story...

Getting one up on the bad guys

I was studying for a degree in Computer Forensics at Sunderland University when I applied to join the HMRC industrial placement scheme. It meant a year out of my degree to work full time in a company to gain practical experience, personal skills and greater knowledge of the cyber security world.

From day one it was a challenge but in the best possible way. I was given real responsibility and worked on a high profile project to develop HMRC’s anti-phishing capability and protect its customers from being scammed by the fraudsters. Working with the team was so interesting and rewarding and, of course, getting one up on the bad guys is always a good feeling!

It felt like a two-way street

Even though I was still a student the placement felt like a two-way street. HMRC were keen for me to share the scientific and technical knowledge I was learning on my degree with the rest of the team. In return, I was in a real working environment and gaining valuable skills that I could apply back to my degree, putting the practical into the theory. I started my placement as a university student and by the end I had a real sense of being a professional cyber security analyst.

Back at university I worked hard, submitted my dissertation and got through my final term. I believe the experience I gained during my placement helped me towards achieving a first class honours degree.

I missed making a difference

With such a good result I managed to get a job in the private sector straight away, which was great, but I missed the feeling of making a difference like I did when I worked in government. So, when I discovered HMRC were recruiting for Cyber Analysts, I didn’t think twice before applying. Protecting all the data and revenue is a very satisfying objective. That’s how I ended up back here. Challenge, intrigue and the opportunity to get your hands dirty in tech…what’s not to like?

Since coming back I've been developing complex solutions to protect HMRC’s assets. I’m continuing to build my knowledge of the cyber landscape through the brilliant training offered, and sharing what I learnt in my last year of university.

The opportunity an HMRC placement offers is just brilliant. You learn hands-on skills that university can’t teach and you have responsibility from day one. I would highly recommend anyone to apply and, you never know, you may end up coming back like me.

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  1. Comment by Heidi Edwards posted on

    I enjoyed reading your story.Well done Callum.

  2. Comment by Suzanne Bilbrough posted on

    Great blog! Glad to hear you were motivated to come back by the work you did on your placement and we are very lucky to now have you working for us again.