What is it like to work in cyber security? We ask some of the members of the team in Symantec. Today, we hear from Gillian Cleary, Senior Software Engineer.

How long have you been in this role?

I have been in my current role for six-and-a-half years.

How did you come to work in the field of cyber security?

I was working in the telecoms industry for 15 years and felt that, although I was working hard, all it did was make the industry more money. I didn’t feel it benefited the public at large. I moved to work in cyber security because I wanted to make a difference, not to the industry but to everyday people.

What advice would you give to someone who wants a job like yours?

1. Do a part-time course in a cyber security related field. A part-time course will contain those already working in the industry: working by day, studying at night. If you’re any good, they’ll want to recruit you when you’re finished.

2. If you are already involved in a cyber security related pastime, update your LinkedIn profile with this. Recruiters will find you.

3. If you’re just toying with the idea and are afraid to make the move, do it anyway. The skills you acquire will benefit you in other careers. It’s a big market so it’s very easy to move around.

Is the course you studied at university relevant to the job you have now?

Yes and no. My first course straight out of school in my teens was a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Geography. I went traveling for more than two years after I completed this course then decided to come home to complete a Higher Diploma in IT, not for any love of computers but to open career doors for me abroad. However, I was surprised at how much I loved the course, and the following year I completed a Master of Science in Software Engineering. More than a decade later, I completed a two-year part-time Master of Science in Security and Forensic Computing. While on this course, I met several people in the industry who I would later come to work with.

What do you think are three qualities someone who wants to work in a role like yours needs to have?

1. You have to be logical; that goes without saying.

2. You must also be analytical — be able to break a problem into its component parts for evaluation.

3. Critical thinking is necessary to be able to objectively analyze data before making any judgements.

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