It’s daunting applying for your first job. Your studies have given you a great foundation for understanding the subject matter - but now you have to convince someone to give you a chance to put it into practice and start your career.
A great place to start is internships and graduate programs. These have been designed to take into account and support your lack of experience, and help give you the best start. They’re generally also a fantastic opportunity to get hands-on across projects / teams / business units to help you identify what really interests you. Plus, in many cases, there’s the opportunity for employment afterwards for candidates who demonstrate a great fit in the organisation's culture.
The current market makes it a great time to be a graduate entering the workforce and wanting to become a cyber security specialist. So how do you put your best foot forward to get yourself onto a graduate program in the cyber security industry? Below we nominate some of our suggestions to stand out.
The best place to start is doing some research. Google, LinkedIn, career fairs etc - these are avenues where organisations advertise. Whether you think you want enterprise, start-up or public sector, at this early stage it’s better to look at what the internship or program is really going to offer and make sure it suits your goals. And don’t put all your eggs in one basket; graduate programs tend to be highly competitive, so apply for as many that interest you.
(also clarify whether it’s paid or unpaid work e.g. traditionally, internships have often been unpaid work experience, however this is not always the case).
Government graduate programs are always a good option. Large, public sector organisations spend time building robust, detailed programs and dedicate the resources to manage these - they have loads of experience helping support graduates and providing different opportunities to build a career.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask around. If you know anyone in the industry, or maybe contacts through your studies, and feel comfortable reaching out, do so. They may have some insight into who is hiring or be able to point you in the right direction.
Recruiters for graduate programs aren’t expecting an extensive CV full of experience, however for most applications you will need one. At this stage of your career, it’s important to have all your qualifications listed, as well as any jobs you’ve had while studying (or in the interim prior to applying). You will most likely also need an academic transcript and evidence of your Right to Work in Australia (passport, visa etc)
You may or may not also need to provide a cover letter or complete some selection criteria at this stage. Make sure you highlight your interest in the role and organisation (do your research on the company!), any relevant information/experience you have that demonstrates your ability, and any transferable skills.
Be Honest! There’ll be numerous stages in the recruitment process where facts will be checked. Also double check all your contact details are correct (and your email address sounds professional - email@example.com might need a tweak)
We’d also advise getting someone who knows their way around a job application to proofread your CV and cover letter and help make you shine.
Congrats your initial application has the tick of approval and now you’re at the interview process. Again, preparation is key. Research the organisation or business unit the program is with and be able to articulate why the role with them interests you. You might also want to Google some standard interview questions and pre-prepare some answers so that you minimise the chance of a mental blank (we’ve all been there).
Now is one of the few times you truly get to talk about yourself. For most people it’s not comfortable and can be somewhat intimidating. Having prepared will help, and for graduate roles this is more about finding a good personality fit; a good recruiter will understand you don’t have huge amounts of experience to talk at, nor have all the answers. It will also show initiative if you come to the table with some questions of your own about the program and expectations of graduates.
And to help with nerves, find out who you’ll be talking to prior to the interview, double check the date and time, and if it’s a virtual chat make sure all your tech is ready to go!
Right now the cyber security market is facing talent gaps and skills shortages. So if cyber is your chosen field of interest, you’ve picked a great time to have recently graduated. Internships or graduate programs are an ideal career stepping stone to building your skill set (both technical and ‘soft’ skills) and gaining experience in a supportive environment. By using the steps above, you’ll hopefully be better placed to apply for those roles - and good luck!
If you’d like any more information about recruiting or retaining top cyber security talent, or if you’re looking for your next cyber security role, reach out to the Decipher Bureau team. With offices across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra - and an experienced team around the world, we’d love to help you out.
Speaking of recruiting top talent, Decipher Bureau is currently looking for consultants! If you're interested in having a chat about joining the team, and to find out why we’re a great place to work, please get in touch.