Graduate in Focus: Aarti Vashisht

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Aarti Vashisht

Name: Aarti Vashisht

Degree: BSc Business, Computing and IT

Year of graduation: 2018

Employer: IBM

Job title: Cyber Security Specialist

What does a typical day in your job look like?

In my current project, I solely manage and analyse a tool that alerts me of any updates regarding the security of a client’s cloud platform, to which I respond immediately based on whether it is a false positive threat or real. I’ve also pen-tested the tool by uploading a virus on test system to see how effective the real system is.

In a previous role, I used to remediate defects as a part of a pen-test conducted for the bank I worked for. I am in liaison with several different entities daily to solve and understand business problems.

What has been the highlight of your job so far?

There have been many highlights in the short 8 months I have been at IBM. Some include: Receiving the Manager’s Choice Award, presenting to the European VP of IBM Security and being flown to Dublin for training.

What skills have you developed in your role?

The great thing about the IBM graduate scheme are the endless opportunities to learn. An online internal library ‘Think40’ encourages all IBMers to partake in at least 40 hours of education a year. I have already received my PRINCE2 certification and looking to complete my ITIL 4 certification next month. Also, I’ve had countless opportunities to present to every stakeholder of the business and in doing so build on my communication skills.

How has your current role shaped your career plans?

The roles I have had have given me a lot more insight into the world of Cyber Security and the various roles that exist within. One thing I have learnt is that you don’t have to be technical to be in this industry, but it definitely helps. The roles I have had have shown me that I’d like to join Cloud Security as this is an area where every business is moving into.

How did you secure your role? Did you receive any support from Careers+Placements?

I remember networking whilst on my placement year at IBM. I found out what I wanted to do as a graduate, who was in charge of hiring for that area and set up at meeting. I did research beforehand as Cyber Security was a new area for me. I was told to research and read certain books and articles which I later referenced when I had my graduate interview. My now manager was very impressed that I managed to quote certain books and my passion came across. The key was to be proactive and network whilst leaving a lasting impression.

Did you secure your role when you were still a student? If so, when and where did you start looking for a role?

I was very fortunate because I had already completed my placement with IBM and so I was only asked for one informal interview at the very start of my final year (Sept-Oct). This relieved some pressure to focus on my final year as, whilst everyone was still applying for graduate schemes, IBM had already made me an offer. Although, I must say this was only because of the lasting impression I left at IBM and the constant networking during my placement year that led me to one informal interview for the graduate scheme.

Did you do a placement or gain any other work experience before securing your graduate role?

I did my placement year with IBM which I would say is the reason I applied back and received an offer from them as a graduate. The benefits of the placement were endless. Not only did I learn how to solve real-life business problems in an efficient manner, but also how to communicate, take charge and build on my presentation skills. Having only ever had part-time jobs, it also gave a chance to experiment with the 9-5 work-life balance.

What advice would you offer to final year students or other recent graduates looking for a role?

Persistence is key. Change your perception to view receiving a rejection letter as an opportunity to try harder. If you didn’t get a job you really wanted, so what? There’s not just one company out there. Everything happens for a reason so seize every opportunity you can and use failure to come back even stronger!