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Shelbi Hawksworth 

MSc Cyber Security

  • Assistant Manager at Costa Coffee
  • Currently working in Costa to allow her to plan her next steps 
  • Hopes to train as a special needs teacher
Shelbi Hawksworth, MSc Cyber Security

My current role

"I chose this job as a career break and as a gap year from studying before getting an ‘adult job’. I decided on this because I was only living in the area for a limited amount of time and wanted a job where I could be customer facing before finding something more career related.

"This job required no qualifications and relied on my communication and people skills, all of which were developed massively during my time as an ambassador. In my year at the company, I have managed to go from a staff member to an assistant manager and could have potentially got the management job, however I was happy at the level I was at.

"I enjoyed the responsibility of the admin work, training the staff and being able to use a couple of my skills that I picked up at university to fix the odd computer issue. From doing this job and having a gap, I managed to work out what I want next in my career and now know that one day, once I have enough experience, I am going to be working as a special needs teacher. This is not something that I would have ever considered if I hadn't taken the break and got this job and met an autistic child who I have been looking after alongside working."

If there is a course that you are passionate about then go for it. The skills and the knowledge you learn are going to be an asset for future jobs.

Finding work

"As I went straight from college to university for five years, I wanted to find a job which would be my break before starting in the cyber security industry. As I knew I was only going to be in Winchester for two years, I decided a coffee shop would be great as it would develop my people skills further and it would be a slight challenge learning a new skill - pouring a pretty picture on a flat white isn’t as easy as it looks! I also wanted to get some managerial experience quicker than I would through an IT company.

"My approach to finding work was very unorthodox. When I moved I knew that I needed a job straight away so I applied for every job I could find, whether IT related or not. My first position was at a care home but I quickly decided I did not like the way it was run and went back to applying for more jobs. This is where I found Costa and the location of the job couldn’t have been better, so I applied. 

"I applied for seven jobs after graduation. I secured four of the jobs and the job I didn’t, I applied for before I moved. It was a graduate position at an IT firm in Leeds but a week after I got offered an interview, the opportunity to move to Winchester came along. I made the move and found there were very few IT jobs, all of which required three years experience so I was unsuccessful in those applications. But, this kept me to my original plan of working in a face to face job where I’d meet people and get to socialise on a daily basis.

"I would advise current students to take a placement year if possible and this is something I feel would have boosted my chances of getting a job massively. Also, make sure you know what you want before you start applying to every job and don’t just apply because its in your field. Make sure you have done your research and it’s a company you are going to be happy working for - there is no shame in taking a year out to find yourself before moving into a career."

Choosing Bradford

"I chose Bradford because I did a summer school when I was in Year 10 and I always remembered the staff being friendly and loving the Amp. I came to an open day and out of the two universities I went to, Bradford stood out because I felt like a person rather than a number and the staff felt welcoming.

"What made my experience special was the fact that I got stuck in with the social side of university. I was a member of a sports team and I worked as an ambassador, which gave me memories that I will never forget.

"I would advise students to do something at university that is going to make them stand out from the crowd. It's all well and good getting top grades but hundreds of people are going to have that same grade. If you can show that you have good time management by being a committed member of a sports team or society, or that you held down a job while studying, these are things that are going to make you stand out when applying for a job."

I chose to continue my studies because I wanted to develop my knowledge and skills further and the chance to study cyber security was amazing. Not only were the courses I studied great, but the lecturers were always there to help and the fact that the computer labs were open pretty much 24/7 meant I had freedom to study and work at the times where I studied best.

Helping me progress

"Studying at Bradford has helped me, as although I am only working in a coffee shop, this is only while I am in Winchester. Therefore, I am already looking at graduate level jobs for my next move and being at Bradford has taught me the skills that I'll use to get a job. My confidence, teamwork and time management all came from my studying.

"At the moment, I am considering a teaching qualification to be able to work with children with special needs. This has come from meeting a young boy with autism who I have been lucky enough to take on day trips and spend time with while working.

"From speaking to his family, it is clear that in mainstream schools, there is not always the support for people like him and therefore they're missing out on basic lessons. With the skills and knowledge I have got from Bradford, I feel this is the move for me to use my knowledge to teach others."