I’d always been interested in WW2 and Bletchley Park, but I never really thought that I could be a part of it without a degree in Maths. That’s what attracted me to GCHQ. Also, although I knew in reality it wasn’t going to be all black suits and martinis… the thought of working on secret projects with real life effects was quite exciting.
During the recruitment process I was really curious about what type of questions the vetting officer was going to ask me… But in the end the most difficult part of the process was deciding which biscuits to offer them!
Crypt is a really unique environment to work in, and it’s set up with a wide range of bespoke tools. The technology’s mostly new, so you get extensive training on everything from scratch… Which is great, because it just means you need a basic confidence on computers and you’ll learn the rest in time. It‘s also had a knock-on effect that I’m now far more confident when I’m presented with technology I’ve never used before.
Although the tools we use are quite intuitive, some of the processes we’re trying to achieve are quite complex. At first, learning about encryption was tricky… but the way it’s broken down by the experts makes it far more manageable. The best thing is that, although we’re working with government communications, the principles are applicable to everyday life… so suddenly things like online banking make sense!
Training’s been a big part of my working life here. I’ve increased my technical knowledge on everything from Microsoft Office products, through to sophisticated and complex encryption models. And there are plenty of courses to help personal development, too. I’ve learnt lots of tools and techniques to get along in a fast paced work environment.
The people I work with are extremely supportive, too. And they have a wealth of knowledge and experience… With such diverse backgrounds, everyone’s an expert in something. And they’re not all mathematicians and scientists, either… Walking around the offices you come across people from all walks of life. The nice thing is that the environment encourages differences… so there’s no pressure to be something you’re not.