Cyber studies: Rebecca Thomas
Rebecca Thomas had a distinguished 10-year career in the Army. She served in the Intelligence Corps, deploying to Afghanistan three times during her career. On deployment in Afghanistan, Rebecca’s main role was as an intelligence analyst and de-briefer, working within the Intelligence Exploitation Facility directly supporting UK Special Forces, as well as supporting the International Security Assistance Force Human Intelligence mission. Rebecca left the Army in November 2016 and has since found the resettlement period challenging. She is currently teaching, but thanks to a course run by SaluteMyJob, IBM and the Corsham Institute, her ambition to forge a career in cyber security has been reignited.
The former intelligence analyst left the Army at the end of last year and has since found her transition into civilian employment a struggle, unable to have the full confidence to pursue a fulfilling career after the military. Rebecca explains: ‘During my resettlement, it was quite a dark time to be honest. I was suffering with an ankle injury, which had a knock on effect on my mental health. So I volunteered at my old primary school, trying to gain a bit more confidence. In the end, I distanced myself from the military so I didn’t receive much of a resettlement or career assistance from the Career Transition Partnership and found my own path, which was into teaching.’
Rebecca has faced a number of challenges throughout her military transition as she ‘felt like she didn’t have much of a support network’. She continued: ‘I didn’t feel like I could access the support I was entitled to as not everything was on my doorstep and because of my injury I couldn’t travel far, which is why I started volunteering at my old primary school. I didn’t know I was going to go into education at the time but the head teacher planted a seed and that is why I applied to university and did my PGCE Primary (QTS) with PE specialism. I’ve previously done some teaching and I also did some training in the military, so it wasn’t a huge change for me to go down that route.’
Teaching isn’t a world away from some of the skills Rebecca gained while in the military. ‘I think the main thing I took from the Army that I am using today is my interpersonal and communication skills, the ability to build rapport with pretty much anyone, which is good for the role I am doing at the moment. But the intelligence stuff, I pretty much spent my whole career doing. I’m not really using any of my analytical skills at the moment, which is why I applied to go on the i2 course. I want to try to get back into that field because I know I can do well in that environment,’ she says.
Rebecca wants to pursue a career in cyber security as she believes she has the skills to be successful in the industry, adding: ‘Once you have learned those skills, they can’t be taken away from you.’ Rebecca found out about the IBM i2 training course, which is designed to train Veterans on IBM’s Analyst Notebook tool, on Indeed. Individuals who successfully pass the course will be accredited by IBM as a certified i2 Analyst. ‘I was so surprised that there were free courses out there of such high calibre. The instructor’s method of teaching was brilliant. There was a lot to take in, but it was really good. It massively reignited my ambitions to go down the cyber security route. I just know I would enjoy that line of work and having the opportunity to get into a company to really show off my skills is what I want to do.’ Rebecca is poised to go on the next QRadar course, run by the same trio of companies, and is looking to do further certifications to help her employment prospects.
Although Rebecca says she finds it difficult to sell herself in interview – and also translate her skills into commercial language, she believes she has the experience to gain successful employment in the cyber industry. ‘The Intelligence Corps is huge and I did specialise in human intelligence, but in my time I also did counter-intelligence, security and imagery intelligence. I also did some psyops courses. I really believe I have utilised the skills during my years in the military and it sounds extreme but the work I have done has actually prevented the loss of lives, which is not something everyone can say.’
Rebecca is looking for work as a threat risk analyst, but a job role where you train people to utilise intelligence has also piqued her interest. Finally, when asked what value she thinks Service leavers add to businesses, Rebecca replies: ‘Our work ethic. Teamwork skills. Can-do attitude. Our communication skills. The military really did give me a huge amount of confidence. Once you do your job and you do it well, you can pretty much lend your skills to any job role.’
FIND OUT MORE
If, like Rebecca and Jasmine, you are interested in our FREE cyber courses, you can find out more at www.salutemyjob.com/training