News Article

Women in Science at GCHQ

Last Updated: 09 Feb 2018
To mark International Women and Girls in Science Day on 11 February, forensic science graduate Amy talks about using her STEM background and skills at GCHQ.

News article - 09 Feb 2018

I've been working at GCHQ for just over two years. My background is a degree in Forensic Science with a focus on Chemistry; I also worked as an analytical scientist for a couple of years after university prior to joining. 

I've always had a passion for technology, and that was the direction I wanted my career to take, but I was concerned that I wouldn't get a look in because I didn't have a technology based degree and I wasn't a stereotypical 'techie geek'. I applied to our technology career stream, which specified that you just needed a STEM degree, but I still did not expect to get the job. However, here I am two years later working in Cyber Security as an infrastructure engineer. I get to build systems that help to protect GCHQ's infrastructure, and I love it! I like to consider myself a 'techie geek' now too. I work with a fantastic and diverse bunch of people, and we are always learning from one another.

My day job is very technical, and although I initially thought my degree would be of no use, it has been so helpful. Any science degree gives you a basic understanding of how to think analytically, and that mind-set is helpful for any career within GCHQ. Technology is always changing, so to stay at the top of our game we are always learning and improving our knowledge, which I really enjoy, and having done a degree this is something I am used to. As a scientist, I thrive off finding out how and why things work, and this has been invaluable for my current day job as an engineer. My degree was also quite focussed on investigations, keen observation and an inquisitive way of thinking, which are all useful to have in a technical role. 

The training I received when I first started was fantastic, and unparalleled. I would never have imagined having so much offered to me in my first year or subsequently. I even have a professional accreditation - a general information assurance certification in cyber security, which means I get to put extra letters after my name! I have also had the opportunity to travel abroad twice now for international user conferences to get a deeper understanding of products we use, as well as getting to interact with the developers and architects, and ask questions in person. It was amazing to meet similar people and discuss shared problems.

I can't express enough how much of a privilege it is to get to work here every day, each of us in one way or another is contributing towards the continual safety of the UK and its citizens. Working here, you are surrounded by experts in a wide variety of fields, getting to share ideas, and being able to witness and work with technologies that you would be hard pressed to find working in industry. The scope of career paths that are available to you once you have joined are also remarkable - I am so excited for the future too to see where my career may go! 

GCHQ is world-leading and unique, and these are just some of the many reasons I am so proud to work here. 

 

shutterstock_314921831-woman-using-laptop-768x512px.jpg

Stock photo of a young woman using a laptop computer
©Shutterstock