From History to Cyber Security- My story so far…

Today’s guest post comes from Suhail Mohammed, who is currently studying for a Masters in Cyber Security here at the University of Bradford, and he’s also one of our student receptionists in Careers. However, his current area of study is very different from his original career plans, as he describes below…

Considering I came to Bradford for a standard three year undergraduate degree, it does surprise me that I’m still here five years later. My plans for the future that seemed set in stone when I began my Bachelors in History and Politics are now a distant memory. I had applied to University with dreams of completing my degree and going on to do a PGCE so I could become a History teacher. Teaching was something I’d been told was the right career path for me and I’d gone along with it because it did indeed seem the perfect job role.

It was during my second year on the History and Politics degree that my ideas about what my future would be like were challenged and I began to imagine an entirely different career path.  I was introduced to the world of Cyber Security after applying for an unpaid internship with a business that was using the RE:Centre on campus as their office. This company was working on building an analytics website wherein Cyber Security threats and developments were listed analysed and discussed by security experts, amateur enthusiasts, students and bloggers. What interested me the most was the sheer amount of technologies that I was exposed to and also the aptly named ‘Dark Net’ on which I eventually based by Undergraduate Dissertation.

Cyber Security became my main area of interest, I was hooked on discovering as many murky hidden corners of the internet that I could and cracking them open to have a look inside. Through my research for my dissertation I also became quite proficient at the technical aspect of Cyber Security and discovered that things like system security and cryptography came to me very naturally. My dissertation had changed from a look at the political aspects of the drug trade to a comparison of ungoverned spaces in the physical and digital world. Throughout the process of researching and writing the dissertation I became increasingly convinced that instead of graduating and taking steps to become a teacher, I should remain in education once my degree was done and find a Masters degree that would allow me to gain formal qualification in Cyber Security. I had changed my mind completely and was now adamant that I should leave teaching behind and pursue a career in Cyber Security analytics and research.

I discovered an MSc in Cyber Security existed at Bradford and once my Dissertation had been handed in I began the application process, wrote a personal statement to support my application and applied for a scholarship in order to support myself through my studies and pay for the course. As I had no previous formal education in any computer science related degree, I was very unsure as to whether or not I’d even be considered for the MSc, so to give myself the best chance of getting a place I made an appointment and met with the Cyber Security course leader and explained my situation. She explained that my lack of training in the field would hold me back at the Masters level however once I had proved both my enthusiasm and my capability she intervened personally in the admissions process and ensured I was given a place. I agreed to do the course part-time over two years to allow myself time to learn the necessary skills that I was lacking. The moment I was accepted onto the course my scholarship application was also accepted which meant the degree was fully paid for.

I may have taken the long route to discovering which career path was truly for me but I would not change a thing. Doing both a Bachelors and an MSc at Bradford has taught me so many things and improved my skills in two very diverse fields. I have managed to succeed despite not having the traditional qualifications required to do my Masters degree by instead using the resources and tools around me to gain the necessary experience. Though I had started University with my future planned out I’m about to graduate with an MSC in a field I knew nothing about when I started. I have discovered that it’s absolutely fine not to know what you want to do next. The process of discovering your field is as exciting as the thing itself.

Many thanks Suhail! If you’re thinking about postgraduate study, need help with applications or have any other questions about your career plans, please get in touch with us.