I was looking for a job where I could use my language every day… but I wasn’t particularly attracted to being a teacher or a translator. I hadn’t heard of GCHQ before… but when I read about them, I thought the work sounded fascinating.
The recruitment process took a long time, but GCHQ let you know beforehand so I expected it. I did find the vetting interview a little bit uncomfortable, but the lady who came out to see me explained why she was asking the questions and really put me at my ease.
Working here has dramatically improved my language skills… and my passive skills are even better than they were while I was living and working abroad. I definitely get some very difficult pieces of language to translate and transcribe… But I think the biggest challenge is the level of accuracy that’s required. I enjoy finding exactly the right word or phrase to render the original faithfully into English. There was never that level of rigour in my translation modules at university. But in this job it matters that I get it exactly right.
And there’s much more to my job than simply transcribing audio material. I do get a good amount of language work every day. But I also get to write reports… increase my knowledge of technology… lead my own operations… take part in all sorts of development activities… and meet my intelligence customers.
I’ve also had a lot of training… both for my language and in a number of tools and techniques that help me to do my job better. And I’ve worked with brilliant teams of enthusiastic, intelligent and motivated people over the last seven years.
The work-life balance is great for me. When I was working as a language teacher, I used to have to do work at weekends. In this job, when I leave the office, I don’t have to think about work at all. This means that people are pretty focussed when they’re at work. We work on some amazing things and get some brilliant opportunities. You’re all working towards a common goal and I really like that.