My name is Airen, and I recently got my degree from Southampton Solent University in cybersecurity management. Over the last few years, I have worked extremely hard to achieve a first in my degree. Before I started my university journey, I had completed A-Level coursework in maths, criminology, and psychology before enrolling at Southampton Solent.

After my summer graduation, I obtained an employment offer as a graduate technician after visiting the Axians UK graduation day last year. Since then, I’ve also spent some time in the NOC (Network Operations Centre). This job has demonstrated to me how different theory is from work in the actual workplace. Since joining Axians in the summer, my confidence has shot up, which has allowed me to be a more confident person in the workplace. In the last few weeks, I’ve spent some time in central operations to gain more real-world experience.

My inspiration for joining the IT industry comes from my parents. My parents both worked in STEM fields, my father is a cybersecurity professional. My mother pursued a job in information technology, rose through the ranks, and travelled for business. She has motivated me to seek a career that offers various pathways for advancement, despite the difficulties. I’ve always had a role model to look up to.

However, even though I was surrounded by technology during my youth and adolescence, it wasn’t my first option. I didn’t realise this was something I wanted to pursue until I heard a presentation on this topic with a friend at a university open day. On that very night, I changed my personal statement to focus on cybersecurity, and the rest is history.

While many people might not know the difficulties of being a woman in the industry, there are a number of issues that I would need to overcome to have a successful career in this area. This was highlighted by my parents on many occasions.

My advice to anyone who desires a job in technology is to just go for it—why not? Due to the fact that I had never studied anything technical before, I was initially really cautious. I was concerned that I would fall behind everyone in the class, but this was definitely not the case. You will see results if you put in the effort.

Anyone should be encouraged to work in this field, but women in particular. It’s a fantastic moment to start a career in STEM because organisations in this field want to support more female talent. But until more women apply, I think there will always be an imbalance in the field.

While I’ve not seen many leadership positions being taken up by women in other businesses, Axians UK ensures there’s equality in the workplace, and you can see this for yourself as there are many strong women that hold many of the senior and management positions. Working in a setting that encourages equality and career advancement, I can clearly see that the balance is not just positive but also emphasises the support I will get to help me advance.