Our Learner of the Month for March is Luke McGuinness, a Trainee Network and Security Engineer Apprentice at Arrow ECS, and is currently undertaking our Level 4 Cyber Security Technologist apprenticeship.
Luke was nominated by his Trainers, and Dave Westmoreland noted, “Luke has been a pleasure to teach throughout the whole of his time on the apprenticeship, an opinion shared by all the trainers who have trained him.
“He is hard working, conscientious and obviously takes a great deal of interest in the subjects being delivered. Luke passes all exams first time, which is a huge achievement, especially for such a young apprentice. He is clearly passionate about Cyber Security and has asked for advice on further courses/areas for development, following his EPA.
“This is clearly a man who will go far in his career and would like to wish him the very best of luck as well as congratulating him on such an impeccable attitude, by awarding him Learner of the Month”.
Tim Ibbotson, Security & DR Analyst at Arrow ECS, also commented on Luke’s progress since returning from training, “Luke would often speak to me regarding the subjects that he had undertaken during training. It was apparent that his knowledge had increased and he would always be accurately informed and progressing from simple concepts to more complex ones.”
Arrow ECS is a technology enablement company that brings innovative IT solutions to market to solve complex business challenges. We deliver value-added distribution, business consulting and channel enablement services to leading technology manufacturers and their channel partners. They help businesses grow faster, operate efficiently and transform in a dynamic market.
Arrow have an incredible apprenticeship scheme which works to recruit apprentices across the business. Over 50% of apprentices have gone on to Higher Education, which Arrow fully funds, and 100% of their apprentices have stayed with the business and moved into a full time position after their apprenticeship.
Luke McGuinness, explained to us why he chose to embark upon his apprenticeship, and what he loves about it:
“I first became interested in Cyber Security when I was studying my GCSEs, and I got into a discussion with my friend’s cousin who had learnt about hacking and Cyber Security as a hobby, and was talking to me about basic networking principles such as three-way handshakes – it all went straight over my head, but it ignited a curiosity in me and my passion for Cyber Security has grown from then on. I’ve always been interested in complicated things, the intricacies of Cyber Security are so complicated it almost seemed like magic to me. The cat-and-mouse aspect of Cyber Security really appeals to me.
“I chose to pursue a career in this industry because they say you should do something you love, right? I love computers, and I especially love being able to keep learning. I’m quite a curious person, and it seems to me that you can never stop learning about IT, and IT Security especially. It just seems like a really rewarding career that you can keep learning within no matter how far into it you are.
“I have two main sides to my role. The first one is delivering technical pre-sales consultations for a vulnerability management software called Tenable. I’m also in charge of the networking (the switches and IP management) for our internal demo environment, which we have to showcase our products. My day-to-day role can cover anything from taking technical calls about security and recent vulnerabilities to configuring VLANs and port channels.
“I like working on the blue-team, identifying possible vulnerabilities and ensuring things are secure. In the future ideally I’d like to work my way up and get to something like CISSP, and maybe dabble in the red-team side of things, looking at penetration testing and how they go about that.
“I really enjoy my job because I’m in a department alongside consultants who do every single area of IT, so I’m able to witness a lot of the storage side of IT and listen to them discuss iSCSI, NFS and the Cloud, and how that will interact with networks and security as well as really in-depth knowledge about firewalls. Working in this environment gives me a really great sense of seeing how these things work in reality, not just in theory.
“What I really enjoy about my training at Estio is the delivery from the Trainers. The Trainers are all very knowledgeable and friendly, everybody there is just as big a nerd as I am, so they’re always really eager to answer any questions I have, and can answer in-depth and enthusiastically.
“My favourite module was Introduction to Cyber Security, which covered the basics of the CompTIA Security+ exam. The module was well structured, it didn’t go into too much detail, but it still gave me a broad overview, for example different attacks and how they might work, even if they might be considered archaic today, it was interesting to learn about in more detail.
“The most challenging module was the Employment of Cryptography, as there is a lot of maths involved and secrecy, and I found the more I researched it the vast amount of information and in-depth maths got quite confusing! However, the Trainer that we had in this module was knowledgeable and patient enough to ensure that we all understood and got to grips with the content.
“I’ve felt really well supported by both my Trainers and Skills Coach. The team are all really friendly and a pleasure to talk to, I feel like I could sit down and discuss IT Security for hours with them. My Skills Coach has been really supportive and helpful, even when I’ve loaded her with lots and lots of work to look over she has taken it all in her stride.
“I chose to embark upon an apprenticeship because I feel like it’s the best of both worlds compared to choosing to start work or go to university; I’ve now got the experience of working in a business as well as certificates and qualifications. The apprenticeship hasn’t been a compromise on the education that I might have received at university, and I’ve also developed some much more transferable life skills during my time at Arrow ECS. I wanted to get my hands dirty and apply the new knowledge that I’m gaining, so the apprenticeship route has worked really well for me.
“I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship with Estio to a friend. Since I started the apprenticeship Estio has expanded and grown so much and they have recently renovated the training centre. The facilities are great, the team is great, it’s just been an all-round great experience.”
We’re so pleased that Luke has found the apprenticeship to be a valuable experience, and wish him all the best going forward.
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