I was primarily attracted to GCHQ by the opportunity to continue researching and work with applications that matter in the real world.
There are plenty of training opportunities… and I’ve had the chance to learn an enormous amount, both in terms of technical skills, such as new programming languages… and broader skills, like learning to tailor my research to produce the best outcome for the business.
It’s been a steep learning curve… especially as I didn’t know a huge amount about the very technical side. You need to pick up technical skills… the subject expertise… and an understanding of how the business works, all at the same time… which can be a bit overwhelming. But fortunately, everyone’s very understanding and supportive.
The nature of the work means you have to keep an eye on what’s going on, too… But there’s a huge number of resources to help you… from news articles to formal training… or talking to experts around the department – and the world!
Everyone in my team and the department have been very friendly and encouraging… They’ve given me a lot of on-the-job training to supplement my formal training courses. And the buddy scheme means there’s always someone there to answer your stupid questions… which always helps when you’re new and trying to make a good impression! My managers have also been great at supporting other things I’ve got involved with, such as outreach and diversity activities.
I think the main thing you need as a graduate here is a willingness and ability to learn. However much of an expert you are, things move on so quickly that everyone has to keep learning and doing new things. But I think the thing that’s most impressed and surprised me is just how much we actually do! Out of necessity, a lot of what we do goes unreported and unrecognised… so it’s not until you join that you discover just how wide-ranging and important our work actually is.