Higher Level Apprentice Steph Blair talks about her Belfast Met training and work at Rapid 7
Since finding out about the IT opportunities at Belfast Met, Steph Blair, 28, hasn’t looked back. She was nominated last year by her lecturers to attend Buckingham Palace when Belfast Met received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of excellence in FE training in IT, after being designated Curriculum Hub for the Digital IT sector in NI.
Steph is now working 4 days a week as a Cyber Security apprentice for the expanding American Cyber Security firm Rapid 7, which has offices worldwide including Belfast, Boston, Singapore and L.A.
Steph was working in retail when she attended an Open Day where she discussed IT course options and went on to apply for the Level 3 IT course in Cyber Security BTEC. She was always interested in IT and went on to successfully complete her Level 3 BTEC and then went on to apply for the Higher Level apprenticeship in Cyber Security at Belfast Met.
After passing her assessments in IT during the apprenticeship application process, she went on to apply to IT companies that were recruiting Belfast Met apprentices.
“Rapid 7 was one of the first employers that interviewed me. The staff were super friendly and welcoming and put me at ease straight away. Shortly afterwards they offered me a placement in a role that supports their Business customers.
“I decided to accept the offer straight away. Rapid7 are a huge company and this was such a great opportunity and I haven’t looked back! The company has been super supportive and given me the study time that I need to complete my Level 4 & 5 Foundation Degree.
On accepting the apprenticeship, Rapid7 gave me a full time permanent contact, and when my 2 1/2 years of college are up, I will have a permanent position with them.”
“In January 2020 the entire company attended a conference in Boston, were their head office is located. This was an amazing experience, I got to meet so many new people and learn so much about the company and its values.”
“The best part of this apprenticeship has been meeting new people, learning new skills and earning as you learn. I can truly say I have made friends for life. It was at times challenging at the start as I’d been out of education for a few years but have been earning while I learn so am financially independent.”
Steph also told how Belfast Met has supported her career and learning goals: “The tutors have been really supportive, and as I didn’t have an IT background I got all the help that I needed to progress to where I am today.
“My best advice to anyone going into the world of work or further education is to ask for help if you are unsure about anything, and to just go for it.”
For more information on Higher Level Apprenticeships click here.