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Case Study

Ruth McMullan; from Durham University to a Cyber Security apprentice at Belfast Met

Ruth I T
Ruth McMullan's story...
Since joining Belfast Met in 2020, Ruth McMullan has fully embraced the opportunities for a career in IT.

Ruth is a current Level 6 Cyber Security apprentice, working for cyber consultancy firm Ansec IA, part of the Outsource Group. Before she joined us, Ruth's career plan didn’t involve IT, “I graduated from Durham University in June 2020 with a Criminology degree. Despite loving the course and experience I had gained, COVID19 meant that there was a shortage of companies looking for new employees”.

Due to this, she took her interest in crime into a thriving area, Cyber Security and Networking Infrastructure. Despite little experience in the IT field, Ruth applied for our Full-Time course in Foundation Degree in Cyber Security and Networking Infrastructure and joined us as a student in September 2020.

Final year...

Part of Ruth’s final year of study was to complete a Work-Based Learning Project, this required a placement with an employer and requires students to carry out a project based on interests from the course content. 

When researching potential placements, a conversation in class sparked the path to her new career,  “I joined LinkedIn in 2021, after a class conversation to network within the technological field. Tony Hughes (ANSEC) approached me due to his involvement with Belfast Met. I knew about the great reputation Ansec IA had, and based on initial conversations I knew that the right company."

Starting a Level 6 Cyber Security Apprentice...
Ruth joined Ansec IA to complete her work based learning project and graduated with her foundation degree in June 2022, achieving a distinction. In October 2022 Ruth joined our Level 6 Bsc (Hons) Top Up Degree in Cyber Security and Networking Infrastructure as an Apprenticeship. Working 4 days a week with Ansec IA and 1 day a week in College.

After graduation...
Ruth is due to graduate in January 2024, currently going from strength to strength in college and is a highly valued member of Ansec IA, Ruth is currently working on some high profile projects in helping support developing a risk management tool. Currently Ruth is enjoying her role in Ansec IA and her day release in college, when asked what the best part of the course Ruth is fully of praise for both Belfast Met and Ansec IA.

“The support that you receive in Belfast Met and Ansec IA is one of the best parts of the program. Each of the lecturers on the course offer a different perspective due to the range of their backgrounds, but all offering valuable expertise. Coming to Belfast Met after studying at a large university, enabled me to see the value in having small classes again. A great support system and makes it much easier to ask for help/ have open discussions, whilst also having the aspect of independent learning that I loved at university.

ANSEC have been beyond supportive in allowing me any time I require to keep up with the work. Belfast Met have been incredibly good at separating the assignments/ exams so that there is never too much expected at once, to ensure the workload can be managed.”

Advice to future students...
“Maintaining a job at university is difficult. This route with Belfast Met has made my work-life balance much more enjoyable. You are still expected to carry out independent learning, and you will get back what you put in. The lecturers understand that each of their students have commitments and put their students central when considering how to manage their assignment hand-in."

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