Women in technology: a GCHQ programmer shares her story
Alice, one of our programmers, talks about her experiences at GCHQ.
A few years ago, I was part-way through my second year of study for an Engineering degree at a university, and considering my options for the future. I hadn't signed up to do an industrial year but I wanted real world experience, so I started looking for placements or internships in engineering and technology companies. I saw an advert to apply to work at GCHQ as a Summer Student Technologist. I remember laughing and thinking how outrageous it would be to apply – I'd never get in of course. However, I did apply, for a laugh, just to see how far I’d get.
That summer I worked on a coding project with another student technologist within a team in GCHQ. I brought my coding knowledge, which wasn't much then, and it was certainly developed. I worked with a great team of people; people that inspired me to apply to come back to GCHQ after graduation. I had my first taste of keeping Britain safe with code, and I wanted more!
Today I am a technical specialist in software development. I have a core specialism, but I have developed a blend of skills in computing areas, such as computer architecture, cryptography and security, that means my work is never dull! GCHQ is a fantastic employer for computing – its work is unique, and our mission is what motivates me to do my best.
Women in technology are currently a minority so, especially on Ada Lovelace Day, I would encourage any women to consider this rewarding career. Whatever you chose, computing, technology, and cyber, all boil down to problem-solving. Solving tough problems is fun and even exhilarating – especially when you can keep Britain safe.