In light of National Apprenticeship Week, Liam, one of our Consultant Team Leaders here at Pentest People, takes us through his career journey from school to where he is now. Liam came from school to full time work through an apprenticeship and continued to work his way up at the company. Here’s a few words he had to say:
“I started off, you know, tracking websites, hacking testing websites, testing websites, then went on to like build cloud and red teaming, and you do a whole host of testing types, and apprenticeship, the apprenticeship really helped me get where I am today. If I’d been at university I would have left about six months ago, and certainly wouldn’t be standing here talking to you about all the cool hacking stuff that I’ve got to do over the past couple of years.”
A lot of students say “I’ll do an apprenticeship, they are easy” they are not. And now, it’s a lot more competitive, and there’s loads more opportunities. Lots more companies are accepting apprentices, they are starting to see the value in building somebody from scratch. So they can teach them how things work in the real world not by textbook, which is and becomes incredibly valuable, especially at a practical subjects, which Penetration Testing very much is.”
To listen to more of Liams story, check out our video below.
So I got my start in pentesting, when I was 19, I was accepted onto an apprenticeship here, here at pentest. People still have loads of hair, still, still smiling lots scare me a little bit better. But we are, we are where we are. And, you know, three, three and a bit years later, three and a half years later, I'm one of the team leaders and team leaders here at pentest people, it's been a bit of a crazy ride, as you might imagine. I started off, you know, tracking websites, hacking testing websites, started off testing websites, then went on to like build cloud and red teaming, and you do a whole whole host of testing types, and apprenticeship, the apprenticeship really, really helped me get where I am today, if I'd been at university I would have left about six months ago, and certainly wouldn't be standing here talking to you about all the cool hacking stuff that I've got to do over the past couple of years. We used to really struggle to get apprentices in, nobody was applying for them. The people that were applying that kind of been pushed down that route because they without sounding too harsh, they probably weren't the most academically inclined. And so the teachers kind of gave up on them. They're like, I'll do an apprenticeship and apprenticeships easy. It's not. And now however, it's a lot more competitive, and there's loads more opportunities, lots more companies are accepting apprentices, they can start to see the value in building somebody from scratch somebody who hasn't been through formal education, kind of formal higher education. So they can teach them how things work in the real world not in the textbook, which is and becomes incredibly valuable, especially at a practical subjects, which penetration testing very much is. But there's apprenticeship providers, the there's a load of those new, better courses level four, you can now get degree apprenticeships as well. So if you want a degree, and you don't want to be there, spend three or four years at university getting it, you can now combine the two apprenticeships and degree and get your qualification as well as learning on the job and earning more importantly, some more importantly, while while you're doing it as a as well, one of the most rewarding parts of my job now is getting to help young apprentices who are now with business and building them into absolute powerhouses of testing, development, whatever they want to go into. There's we've got several at the moment. underglaze IK is one of my high fliers. He's a brilliant developer boatload of applications already getting back, you're getting into his pen testing now as well. And that development background is really helped to to kind of round out his knowledge. So when he is testing apps, he knows where people are going to start making those mistakes.
Zach karoun Again, webapps really strong coding got a really, really impressive knowledge of selenium and selenium scripting and how you can use those engines to test different abilities. We have a couple of other apprentices as well that are starting to make a lamp ranks, which are naturally, it's incredibly rewarding to see and they I can stop them making the mistakes I did you know, going out and partying because you can't quite get away with that, especially if you've got work in the morning. So yeah, that's that's the rewarding part of the job. What can you expect from an apprenticeship is a question we get asked quite a lot. So first of all, it is a nine to five job your expect normally most people want their apprentices in the office. And if even if they don't, I'd recommend you get in there as much as you can, you know, be around people, you can always ask questions, it's easy to ask somebody, you know, at the watercooler or at the coffee machine, what they're doing, try and learn off them than it is to drop them a message on teams or slack. But again, nine to five job you are you know your employment. So you've got to make sure you know you're turning up on time you're making sure you get along with your colleagues. And then you also have that learning element as well. Now most apprenticeships dedicate about 20% of the time. So that's normally about one day a week to doing apprenticeship activities. So you got four, four days of nine to five doing your job, whatever that is within the business depending on your apprenticeship. And then one day, most people pick either like a Friday or a Monday or Wednesday or something like that top and tail or split the week up. And that will be your apprenticeship that will be time for you to go off and do self study self learning. Our apprentices use that time to like, learn how to code or they might go and write up big projects that they've worked on, you know, do some of that portfolio work, which then after 15 to 18 months. That's all then submitted. You do have to sometimes sit some exams or apprentices have to go through some interviews. And once they've gone through those, then you get them out With the qualification at the end now will vary apprenticeship provider to apprenticeship provider and also examining body to examining body. But that is the kind of general steps it is. You'll spend roughly 15 to 18 months. You will spend four days of every week doing a job, whatever that is within the business. And one day a week doing miscellaneous apprenticeship stuff call that new extracurricular learning or off the job learning.