MSc Cyber Security (2015) PhD Researcher at Bournemouth University
Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? Please include the following: What was your first impression of the university and the city? What did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?
I applied to the University of Bradford because my plan was to do Masters in Forensic Computing. I came from a career in IT auditing and wanted to improve my skills in technological traceability and other aspects of forensic computing. University of Bradford turned out to be one of the universities in the UK that had the course from the hands-on point of view that I was looking. The University also has a decent rank in the University League Tables and this was an important factor in my decision making as an international student.
One of the things that I really loved about the University of Bradford was that it felt like home. Everyone was cheerful and easy to talk to. The University has a great mix of students from all over the world and I also met four other Master’s students from my country (Malawi). Sometimes you need those guys who understand your hometown jokes and I wasn’t in short supply! The Lecturers were also marvellous, making themselves available to guide me through my studies and further career goals even during their out of work hours (as long as I sent them an email in good time).
Why did you choose that particular course? What did you like and enjoy most about your course?
I believe the most interesting thing that happen to me at Bradford was that I came to study one course and I ended up studying another! On arrival at the university, I was offered a Masters in Cyber Security, which was a new alternative to the Master’s in Forensic Computing I had applied for. The Master’s in Cyber Security included training for two professional certifications namely; Ethical Hacking and ISO 27001 (Information Security Management Systems) that are seriously sought for in industry. This was an offer I could not refuse. I believe studying Ethical Hacking under the guide of industrial experts from professional organisations was by far the best part of the course.
What tips would you give to prospective home and international students (about the course at University of Bradford and the university itself)?
My advice to others wishing to do Masters in Cyber Security would be that they should always be curious. Ask a lot of questions and experiment (ethically). It takes a lot of effort to break or damage a computer, so play around. The sooner your work becomes your hobby, the easier it is to work and do well.
For my fellow International students, I would say Bradford has a lovely countryside; take the time off to see these places and further afield, join the clubs or societies you like to make friends (you know everything about your country, it’s time to learn about others. You could also get the answers to “Who wants to be a millionaire?”J)
Networking is also very important. Get to know your Supervisor and Personal Tutor, they are your guides and engage with your classmates in debate on any topic so you learn each other’s strengths (it comes handy). Most importantly get to know the students or researchers at the level above you. They have walked your road before; a few sign posts along the way will save you a lot of time and effort when things are not so clear.
How did Career Development Services support you during your time at University?
Each country has its own way of presenting CVs and key points they look for. From Career Development Services, I learned to tune my CV to the U.K market for a professional or educational outlook. The Careers Development Services also played a key role in motivating me when I wasn’t sure of where I was heading by showing me success stories of previous international students, as I searched for the next step after the Master’s degree.
Tell us what you are doing now.
From the very start of the master’s course, my goal was to go on to a PhD and thanks to the good advice from my Supervisor and School of Computing Staff, I was told to aim for a distinction at the very start to increase the possibilities of a PhD scholarship. Fortunately that worked out and I was lucky to be called for a PhD studentship interview at Bournemouth University just days after receiving my final results. I passed the interview and was offered the studentship way before graduation, which made things really interesting. Since 25th Jan 2016, I am now a PhD Researcher at Bournemouth University. My research is on Designing for Risk Based Decision Making and Assurance with a cyber-security approach.
What action did you take to improve your employability whilst at University? What advice would you give to your fellow international students about improving their employability?
I believe the best advice I took to improve my employability was not to limit myself to academic work only. This was presented to me in the form of the optional professional certifications (Ethical Hacking and ISO 27001). I had enough time to sit for one of certifications and pass within a month of my MSc viva which played a key part in Bournemouth awarding me the studentship. Not all courses have direct industrial certifications, but it is important to gain professional knowledge or some form of industrial experience to make it in a highly competitive environment.
What advice would you give to current (home and international) students wanting to do a PhD in your specific field?
My PhD field is highly adaptable based on a person’s background. Designing Systems for Risk Based Decision Making can be studied from a computing, psychological or mathematical perspective. The key is to love what you do and understand how to bring it to the table. Though it is possible to do a PhD without a master’s degree, the master’s research nature and dissertation experience greatly helps. And mostly, know what drives you. Whatever it is that motivates you to work (no matter what others might think) is good!