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NTT Spotlight: Stephen Chap

This is where we ask members of our community to share more about their career journey so far and their passion for tech. NTT connects you with top mentors so you can land your dream job in tech — no coding required. Get involved at nontechtech.com

A younger Stephen in Zimbabwe

My name is Stephen Chap. I grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe and Liverpool, England and moved to Hertfordshire for university. I ended up moving to Hertfordshire after uni and that’s where I’m currently based.

I completed a degree in Computer Science (Networks) and I am now back at the University of Hertfordshire working as an Assistant Systems Consultant for their Infrastructure Development team.

Ever since I finished university, I always knew that I would work for the university in some capacity in the future. I undertook a grad scheme but because it wasn’t as technical as I wanted, I moved to a different company to sort of fill the technical gap I felt I missed out on whilst on the grad scheme. During this time I saw a role advertised which matched my skillset at the University of Hertfordshire.

The application process was straight forward, I had apply on their job board including a personal statement on why I would be a good fit. The interview consisted of a panel of four asking questions and giving more insight into the role. The interview was actually enjoyable as I had spent a week preparing for it. I was offered the role soon after finishing the interview which was a delight.

Back in my school days I spent way too long playing computer games and as my interests in games died down, I realised I was still always on the computer — looking for new challenges or coding. I didn’t enjoy coding much by the time I got to A-levels and picked Law over computing. But after two years of AS and A2 Law, I realised that my GCSE age self was right, Computer Science was where my passion really was.

Networking is important! During university in first year and second year I mostly hung around with other Computer Science students. The circle got smaller and ended up being just the people I did other projects with so for the first two years it felt like everything around me revolved around tech.

Then I had my placement year working with other students in various disciplines. It made me realise that networking with others outside your field is important. When I returned to university for my final year, I made sure I was involved in so much more outside of the tech spaces. This helped me understand problems others face with tech and helped improve the quality of my code and approach to IT. It’s also a key skill in tech — being able to explain complex terminology without using jargon. Wish I’d figured this out sooner!

I’m currently working on a project where I’m trying to solve a problem for an internal customer. I have been testing and implementing solutions to ensure I can resolve his problem and also add value to the university in the long run. I primarily look at SIEM (Security Information Event Management) systems such as Logz.io, Splunk and ELK (Elastic search, Logstash and Kibana) and my role involves the infrastructure architecture of the systems, designing the dashboards and then configuring the system so it’s ready to be passed onto the relevant team. I also have adhoc tasks such as maintenance of servers and other security related requests that come to the Infrastructure team.

Believe in yourself and know your worth! It can be difficult breaking into the tech scene. You have to do countless interviews and then your requests for feedback go unanswered, but keep believing that you will get to where you want to be. You may be knocked down a couple of times, but you must always get back up, dust it off and move on. This really helped me when I was looking for a role.

My second piece of advice particularly for people looking into Cyber Security as a field, is to start blogging and doing more practical tasks. This not only shows you are interested in the field, it will also make you stand out to employers. Having a degree isn’t enough to be the best candidate. You are competing with self taught ‘hackers’, script kiddies, bootcamp graduates and people who may already have been working but are also looking to switch. You need to be able to differentiate yourself, start an infosec blog and share your knowledge, join a community and start working on projects. Have something that separates you from the rest!

I was really interested in Googles Project Aria, the modular phone but the project got scrapped. I really do hope something big happens in the mobile scene as it’s been a while since we’ve had a game changer.

Unless they can fully guarantee a fully functioning earth internet connection to the current speeds Virgin Media currently provide; the answer would be no from me. I’ll let everyone else go, they can invite me when they have wifi.

Elon Musk for the simple reason on paper he is actually a 90s TV villain. I mean who randomly sends a random car to space and builds rockets and flame throwers for fun? I expect the Power Rangers to be visiting him soon.

Elon Musk — would you accept his invitation to Mars?

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