I joined GCHQ in 2016 and I now work as an apprentice software engineer. I joined because the work fascinated me and I wanted a job that helps keep people safe and protects the country – for me the wider mission was key. Being able to learn and gain a degree at the same time as doing something so important was the icing on the cake.
I found the recruitment process quite straightforward but it does take a while because of the vetting and security. Vetting feels different to the recruitment process for other jobs but that’s to be expected. Once you are here you understand why the security process takes time and why it’s so important – the great thing is once you are here it’s actually a really open environment.
I have really enjoyed working on the projects in GCHQ. It has opened my eyes into how difficult and complex software engineering can be but also how rewarding it can be at the same time.
My biggest challenge has been learning all of the different technologies that are being used – many of which I hadn’t encountered before. As an apprentice, I’m getting a degree in software engineering, so I have normal university work mixed with the learning on the job at GCHQ – you are getting real experience as you go.
My top tip for new people joining GCHQ is ‘be yourself’, there are so many different kinds of people working here doing such varied work. It’s an informal atmosphere in many ways and although everyone is professional it feels more relaxed than I thought it would. The most surprising thing about GCHQ is how welcoming everyone is – it was a pleasant surprise!