I’ve always wanted to be a mathematician, but a career in academia wasn’t for me as I need to see the impact of my work in the real world. The GCHQ Maths Summer Placement seemed like a good fit – the idea of using my maths skills to help protect the country was exactly what I was looking for.
My summer placement didn’t disappoint – right from the start I was working in a team of students on a project in an area of maths that was completely new to me. While this was a little daunting at first, experienced mathematicians were always on hand to help us out and to point out useful papers and tools. At the end of the summer we presented our work to an audience of GCHQ staff, and it was great to get the feedback that our project would be of real operational impact.
I love the working environment at GCHQ: from the community feel that exists within the building to being able to wear what I want to wear and flexible working – I’m not exactly an early bird, and really appreciate not having to start my day at 9am.
The placement has also helped me connect with other students with the same interests as me which has been really helpful to have other people at hand to share my experiences with– the social life isn’t bad either!
After finishing the summer placement, I knew GCHQ was where I wanted to start my career, so I applied for a Maths Graduate role during the final year of my studies. I have now worked here for over 2 years and continue to get fantastic support. The Maths development program covers a variety of subjects from cryptanalysis to machine learning and gives you the opportunity to learn alongside other new mathematicians. I have also attended lots of external courses teaching me about technologies and programing languages, there’s always something new to learn.
My most memorable achievement so far has been helping to design the new UK-post quantum cryptographic standard – I loved working with such a talented team to have an impact on a really interesting problem. This job has been everything I wanted and it just keeps getting better!