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Published: 13th May 2020 | In: News
While April 2020 has brought plenty of challenges, it also brought a very special addition to the Quorum Cyber team – our new graduate apprentice, Elizabeth Momola!
Coming aboard during lockdown, in our newly 100% remote-working set-up, Elizabeth has yet to meet the majority of her new colleagues face-to-face. However, this has not stopped her from already making an incredibly positive impact. You may have even read her first blog, providing invaluable information and advice for staying secure online amid the ongoing surge in COVID-19 related phishing scams.
Now, for her official introduction, Elizabeth has provided even more fantastic insights. This time, welcoming us all into the life of a cyber security apprentice – from onboarding and ongoing learning, to work-life balance and navigating it all under lockdown. Included are some not-to-be-missed tips for her fellow graduate apprentices – current and aspiring – as well as those teams who hold the potential to provide such important opportunities to young professionals, like Elizabeth.
How We Met
My amazing journey with Quorum Cyber started at a student event at Edinburgh Napier University where I’m currently studying in my first year of BEng GA Cyber Security. The Managing Director of Quorum Cyber, Federico Charosky, was giving a talk at the event, all about Work and Life in Cyber.
After hearing his talk, and talking to others in the team who were present at the event, I reached out to them to see if any opportunities were available. Several conversations, one refreshed CV, and an interview later, here I am – the new Graduate Apprentice Security Analyst at Quorum Cyber.
However, it wasn’t just my enrolment as a graduate apprentice student at university and taking the initiative after this event that made this opportunity come about.
This new chapter of my life was made possible by bold moves to turn my career around a year ago, transitioning from Administration to IT. Although I am taking my first steps in IT, I consider my customer service and administration background to be of great value.
Taking the initiative – and following through – to change my career to IT has also become my biggest achievement (so far). It took me a lot of courage to give up a stable and steady career to become an apprentice and start learning new skills from scratch. Especially being in my 30’s and with a family to support.
Being a Part of the Team
I have been very anxious about joining the team with the lockdown in place. I was wondering whether I would be able to bond with people who I never saw in person. Despite my fears, everyone at Quorum Cyber has been very friendly and welcoming. I have been invited to most of the customer meetings, which has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about the company, the services that we offer and to be introduced to our customers. It’s my second week at Quorum Cyber and so far, I have met almost everyone in the company, and I have been shadowing my team members. I’ve been very excited about writing my first blog entry about Covid-19 phishing scams and I’m looking forward to new challenges.
Settling in and progressing in my apprentice training program, I’m looking forward to continuing learning about all the services. Starting with Security Operations Centre (SOC), to Vulnerability Management, Cyber Forensics and Penetration Testing. It will be amazing to be able to apply the knowledge I gain at university in the work environment and draw from the extensive experience of my teammates.
Outside of my main work, I also try to participate in as many IT related events as possible. Last week I took part in Cyber Scotland Connect Online – Lockdown Special! It made me very proud to see my company engaged in Cyber Threat Coalition. I hope to be able to volunteer in the future as my knowledge and skills continue to expand.
Managing the Work, Life, Lockdown Balance
The lockdown has been very challenging for everybody. For me, the greatest difficulty was establishing a work routine with children in the house. It’s hard to keep them busy and entertained, especially since we live in a flat without a private garden. But, we’ve found a few fun and creative things to navigate the challenges:
- For the last two weeks, there has been a two-person tent set up in my living room with the kids were pretending to be on a camping trip – this made bedtime much more fun.
- I have my ‘office space’ set up in the bedroom, this gives me some privacy from the busy home life.
- I’ve asked my kids to make signs that I put up whenever I’m working, so it’s easier to tell when I’m not to be disturbed.
Nevertheless, even with all the best effort in the world, there will still be times when a child’s head appears in a video conference meeting, the most important thing is not to stress out when this happens.
The Values that Guide Me
There are many values that guide me in life, and I feel that the older you get to more complex your decision-making algorithm becomes. I would say that the three main values I always take into consideration are:
- Family – how will my decision affect my loved ones;
- Self-development – will this decision help me achieve new skills or gain new knowledge;
- Environmental Impact – what effect will my decision have on the environment (this might be a work environment, social environment or natural environment)
Often, it’s very difficult to make a decision that would benefit all the mentioned above values. When I decided to become an apprentice, I knew I would have to make some sacrifices, but I also saw the long-term benefits that come from working in cyber security.
These values also influence my non-work time and decisions. I love I like doing arts and crafts: upcycling furniture, making cards, painting – anything that’s manual, messy and creative. And if the weather is nice, I enjoy cycling and hiking. Cooking and baking are also some of my favourite ways to spend personal time: discovering new cuisines, experimenting with new recipes – it’s very relaxing and satisfying.
Advice for Employers
Taking on board an intern can bring new perspective and ideas to a company. It provides a ‘fresh blood’ in the team that might question a process that has not been reviewed for a long time or bring in a new idea that was studied in theory at university.
As for graduate apprentices – there is so much that they can offer. First, I would like to challenge the idea of a graduate apprentice being a very young person with no work experience. The age span of graduate apprentices in my group was from as young as 16 years old to as old as mid-40’s. A graduate apprentice can be a person freshly graduated from high school, but it can also be a person who worked years in their field and is looking to get a degree to make it official. Regardless of their knowledge, experience and age, I can honestly say that all graduate apprentices that I know are hardworking people.
As impossible as it can seem to onboard a new employee remotely, I think my case proves that it’s doable. The key to success is video chats, frequent catch-ups, oh and did I mention video chats?
Wise Words for Future Apprentices
For anyone thinking of joining a Graduate Apprentice program, from my personal experience I can say it’s an amazing opportunity. Not only does it provide you with academic knowledge but also allows you to apply this knowledge in a workspace. Once you finish the program, not only will you have a degree, but also four years of work experience.
Any intern or summer placement positions are also great opportunities to gain relevant job experience. However, if you find it difficult to find a placement in the current situation, remember that you can also gain valuable skills from jobs unrelated to your university course (like customer service, problem-solving, team working, working under pressure and prioritizing workload). I think a big part of professional success is being able to reflect and draw from any experience, good or bad.
From all of the team here at Quorum Cyber, welcome to the team Elizabeth. It’s already been wonderful to have you as a part of the family. We can’t wait to see how you continue growing, learning, and hitting new strides with each success that comes your way!
To keep up with Elizabeth, and everyone in her new team at Quorum Cyber, head on over to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. There’s sure to be many more adventures and knowledge to share along the way!