I was looking for a new technical challenge, and wanted to work somewhere doing something that mattered, so I applied to join GCHQ. The recruitment process was very different to other processes I’ve been through before. At times it felt very long, especially when things went quiet. But now I understand that it’s all necessary to complete the checks needed to join. Although I knew what type of job I was applying for, the details of what this might involve couldn’t be revealed until I joined, which felt strange at times. I’m involved in a lot of really interesting coding work. And although I can’t talk about it in detail to other people, it’s great to know that the work I do makes a real difference to someone’s job, developing real intelligence. My biggest technical challenge has been remembering how to write code! I needed to come at it from the complete opposite direction from my previous coding experience. But you get a lot of one-to-one mentoring and online training to make sure you have everything you need to do your job, including areas such as the corporate, legal and ethical basics. I was surprised by just how busy and bustling the building is – there’s a constant buzz of people moving about doing things. And I’m working in a team with a diverse range of other people and personalities, which was very different for me. It gives the place a real feeling that there’s a lot happening and a sense of purpose. Like most people, I suppose my impressions of working here were based on novels, and a healthy diet of Spooks and Homeland. So the most surprising thing was just how normal a working environment it is. In fact, it’s similar to my experience of working in other large corporate environments – except that this place seems to care more for their staff and their well being.