Cyber security

Gaining Experience

Cyber security


While there is a growing demand in this employment area, job opportunities often involve a competitive application process and the number of people applying for jobs can be high. Candidates who have previous (relevant) experience are viewed favourably by employers as they have developed important knowledge, skills and expertise; giving them the cutting edge against other candidates. However, finding experience will take time and effort, employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Careers and Employability Service website. The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Consider small and medium size companies, as well as larger organisations to help to widen your search for experience.


Types of opportunities



Placements usually last between 6-12 months and can be taken as part of your degree programme. If you are interested in completing a placement year, speak to your Faculty Placement Team.

You can also find placements independently through:

Learn more about completing a placement year


Internships may last anywhere between 2 weeks - 6 months. They are often completed during the vacation periods. 

Internships in cyber security can be found at:

Learn more about completing internships




Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments. Discover opportunities through the Volunteering Bank on MyCareer, listing roles like:

  • STEM Ambassador with STEM Learning
  • IT Club Support Volunteer with Portsmouth City Council
  • Workshop Facilitator with Share

Find out more about volunteering

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Tips to build experience

  • Explore the various areas within the cyber security sector before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills.

  • Consider joining the BCS, Chartered Institute for IT as a student member for a small fee to access networking opportunities, mentoring and industry information. Other organisations you can join as a student include the Chartered Institute of Information Security.

  • The Cyber Security Challenge UK are a series of competitions designed to test your cyber security skills, is another source of opportunities, including virtual areas designed to support and enhance cyber talents through gamification. This initiative has been set up to try and attract more individuals to this type of work. 

  • Get involved in relevant university or external groups this is a good way of demonstrating your motivation and interest in this area of work.

  • Speak to your tutor or other members of faculty staff researching in the areas that interest you, as students are sometimes recruited to work on research projects over the summer.

  • Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.

  • Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers – see our Networking with LinkedIn and Social Media section for further guidance.



student working on computer

How to approach employers directly

When you approach an employer directly, you send them a speculative application. Speculative applications involve sending a CV and cover letter to an employer to ask if they can offer any work experience, even if the company is not currently advertising placements or internships.

Submitting a speculative application shows your interest in a specific company and your willingness to go above and beyond to develop your skills and understanding of the industry. 


Find out more about speculative applications



Explore the Cyber Security Career Guide

Cyber security

Your guide to building a career in cyber security.

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Getting started in cyber security

Take the first steps to researching a career with a cyber security degree

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Finding a job in cyber security

Explore different ways you can secure employment after you graduate. 

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