A day in the life of a placement student in cyber security

Hi, I’m Maisie, a computer science student at Newcastle University. Last year I did a placement, working as a researcher at a cyber security company. This is a typical day in my life working remotely at the company.


I’d usually get up at this time and get ready for the day. My placement was remote so I didn’t have to get up too early!


At 9am, I’d start work for the day. I’d log on to my VM and Microsoft Teams as well as the other applications I needed for work. I’d then check my email and Teams, to check if I had any meetings that day as well as reply back to any messages.

After this, I would decide on what projects I wanted to work on for the day. I usually had a couple of projects on the go, so would decide on whichever was most urgent or relevant to research I had found. I would get up my code for that project and figure out what needed to be done. I would then write up my to do list for the day with the most important tasks to be completed.


After setting myself up for a good day, I would then start working. Usually I spent some time researching different libraries and new technologies that we could use to improve a project or solve a particular problem. I would spend some time reading the formal documentation, finding out about the technology, and ensuring it was suitable for projects.


At this time, I would usually have my morning call with my manager. I would talk through what I had been up to and the research I had found. Then I’d let him know my plans for the day and we’d discuss any new ideas for projects. If needed, he would also help me with any programming problems I had run into the previous day and give suggestions for possible solutions.

Sometimes I would be asked to quickly build small projects for other team members, such as test harnesses for other technologies created by the company. We would talk through the requirements of the program and I would prioritise completing that during the day.


Next I’d go downstairs and have a quick coffee break and say hello to my dog Ralph.


At this time, I was most productive after coffee! Usually I would start programming and getting most of my to-do completed for the day. I would try out the new technologies I had researched, using them to solve problems I had with my project.

If I had a project to create for a team member, I might also have a call with them at this time to learn more about the project requirements or to demonstrate how the project worked so far.


Then it was time for lunch!


In the afternoon, I would sometimes work on building demonstrations to show how new technologies could be used to benefit the company. This would usually involve building some test code to demonstrate how the technology worked. I would then record it and put together a demonstration video that could be shown to the sales team and higher management.


If I had time, I liked to end the day cleaning up my code and adding comments to make it more readable for others. This was an easy task to end the day, and would make it easier the next day to pick up from where I had left off.


I would usually have another quick call with my manager before the end of the day. I would talk through what I had achieved in the day and show him any code or demonstrations I had created. He would also help resolve any programming problems I had during the day.


The end of the work day, thanks for spending it with me!

NCL Internships

NCL Internship: Marine Summer School Teaching Assistant, Newcastle University

Closing date: 09/04/2023

Duration: There are four internships available and each is expected to be available for a total of 175 hours, working approximately 35 hours per week between 24 July and 2 September.  

Bursary/wage: £16.21 per hour

For more information and to apply, visit MyCareer (link). https://mycareer.ncl.ac.uk/leap/jobs.html?id=41705&service=Careers%20Service

The Summers Schools are designed to inspire school pupils to get engaged with the natural environment, to become comfortable with science, and to consider university study in the future. You will be an important role model for your young charges, and will develop valuable leadership skills for your CV. We are looking for a team of students that complement each other in their experience and their skills. The internship is open to all Newcastle University students studying Biology, Ecology, Marine Science, Environmental Science or related subjects. Successful applicants will be expected to undergo a DBS check for suitability to work with young children.

NCL Internship: Website Developer, Newcastle University

Closing date: 13/03/2023

Duration: There are two internships available and each is expected to be for a total of 70 hours, working approximately 20 hours per week between March and July. 

Bursary/wage: £12.56 per hour

For more information and to apply, visit MyCareer (link). https://mycareer.ncl.ac.uk/leap/jobs.html?id=41947&service=Careers%20Service

The interns will co-develop research webpages to represent three research groups within the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Webpages will be updated and reformatted by the interns, who will work alongside staff and students to enhance the content to represent the range of topics and projects that are current and complete. The internship is open to all Newcastle University students.

NCL Internship – Kinewell Energy

Closing date: 20/03/2023

Duration: This internship will run for 140 hours during the Easter vacation.

Bursary/wage: £1400 Bursary

For more information and to apply, visit MyCareer (link). https://mycareer.ncl.ac.uk/leap/jobs.html?id=42121&service=Careers%20Service

Kinewell Energy is looking for interns to support recently awarded projects such as the Technology, Innovation and Green Growth for Offshore Renewables (TIGGOR) programme. This project will accelerate innovative technology concepts in key areas of operations and maintenance for offshore wind, including remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), digital twins, cable arrays and sensors. Due to the large scope of the projects Kinewell Energy is looking for applicants with a variety of different skill sets. This internship is preferably for students studying a STEM based degree.

NCL Internship – Engineering Planning Department Intern, Komatsu UK

Closing date: 27/03/2023

Duration: This internship will run for 450 hours undertaken during the summer vacation as such this internship is open to UG students only.

Bursary/wage: £4,500 Bursary

For more information and to apply, visit MyCareer (link). https://mycareer.ncl.ac.uk/leap/jobs.html?id=42099&service=Careers%20Service

Komatsu UK (KUK) designs, manufactures, and sells medium-sized hydraulic excavators (20 tonnes to 70 tonnes) mainly for the European market. The internship will involve working as part of the Planning team to progress new model introduction documentation, provide production support to our Manufacturing Departments and gain an understanding of cost reduction activities. This internship is ideally for a Year 2 or 3 Engineering or Computer science degree and has excel macro knowledge.

A day in the life of a placement student in AI

Returning from a year in industry with a company that specialise in artificial intelligence technology, we asked Joe what a typical Friday would look like during his remote placement.

8:30 am

As I was working remotely, a perk was having no commute time. This allowed me to get up at 8:30am and get ready for the work day starting at 9am.

9:00 am

At 9am, I would start work for the day and log on to Slack. I would continue working where I left off the previous day, which was usually continuing with an existing project. This could be a smaller project, such as benchmarking new libraries or open-source projects to compare with our existing projects. Alternatively, this could be a larger project which I would plan, develop and test, sometimes alongside the post-graduate student who joined the company at the same time.

11:00 am

After this, I would take a short break, where I would catch up with messages in the Slack chat. People would often post interesting articles related to work, which I would read at this time, or have general chat with coworkers about our current projects.

I would also have a listen to our work Spotify playlist and see if there were any new songs added.

11:30 am

At this time, I would have a weekly meeting with my line manager. During this, we would discuss my progress on my current projects and future plans for next week. On some projects, this would not be a one-on-one meeting and instead, a team progress meeting, typically with 3-4 people.

12:00 pm

I would usually take my lunch break at this time. However, it was flexible, so I could take it when it best fit my work schedule. I could also extend my lunch break, to go on a walk for example, and then work longer at the end of the day. Usually I would not do this on a Friday as I finish early anyway.

1:00 pm

After lunch, I would continue work for a few more hours. As these were my most productive hours, I would often focus on tasks such as the writing of formal documentation and presentations slides for clients. If not needed, I would just continue with my coding.

I also aimed to finish at a point where it would be easier to continue from later, such as completing a certain functionality. I would then write myself a quick note about my progression so I did not forget over the weekend. If I still had time to spare, I would then focus on cleaning up and commenting my code.

2:00 pm

At this time, I would have a meeting with my post-graduate coworker. We would catch up and discuss our progression with our projects and help each other with any problems we had encountered. Normally we would do this twice a week, often on a Friday as our work was winding down for the weekend.

3:00 pm

On a Friday afternoon, we would have a full company casual meeting. As there were 8 people in the company, we would each discuss interesting aspects of our work from that week, such as new progress and challenges overcome. We would also discuss more casual topics, such as our plans for the weekend and other general chat.

4:00 pm

On a Friday, we had an early finish for the weekend!

If you are interested in hearing more about Joe’s placement and how he found it, there is a separate blog post here.

How my placement improved my university experience

Last year, I did a placement with a cyber security company. I found the experience extremely rewarding and that it benefitted my university experience when I returned for my final year of my computer science degree. This is a list of the advantages that my placement provided me with, that might convince you to complete one too. 

Finding my interests

Before starting my placement, I thought I might enjoy working in cybersecurity, but I had not had much prior experience in this field. My placement was an amazing opportunity to learn about what a career in this field involved and whether it was the right fit for me. I was able to learn about the different areas of cybersecurity and I found out what interested me the most. This helped me make a better, more informed decision when choosing my year 3 modules, as I already knew I would enjoy security and cryptography. It also helped me decide on my dissertation title as I had many topics of interest from my placement which I wanted to explore further.

Throughout my placement I was given the opportunity to learn about the different teams involved in the organisation, including research, software engineering and marketing. I could then determine which best suited me. By figuring out my career goals before finishing university, I am able to ensure my choices at university, such as modules and societies, align with these goals so I can better achieve them.

Applying theoretical knowledge

Throughout my placement, I was able to apply the theory I had learnt at university. This helped me gain a deeper understanding of the concepts I had studied, as I saw practical examples of how they were used and had experience building real systems.

Using my knowledge I had gained at university, I was able to create software prototypes for real customer requirements and test harnesses for the team to use. This was extremely rewarding, as I could directly see how my work was benefiting the company.

Networking and new opportunities

I was given the opportunity to meet lots of new people on my placement with different skills I was able to learn from. As well as helping me develop my technical knowledge, they gave me guidance and advice about my future career. Since returning to university, they have continued to support me, and have offered me a job starting after graduation. This was extremely beneficial to my university experience, as it helped reduce the pressure of looking for a job whilst studying. I am very grateful for their support, and learning from these individuals was probably the most rewarding part of my experience.

Gaining confidence

During my placement, I gained the confidence to work independently and as part of a team as my communication skills improved. I felt more confident working on team projects this academic year and took on a more leading role. I also had to deliver lots of presentations during my placement, a skill I have always found challenging but was able to develop throughout the year. I am now more confident in my ability and will use this new skill when giving my presentation for my dissertation.

Learning dissertation skills

During my placement I was able to gain new skills that I have since been able to apply at university. I learnt technical skills, such as becoming fluent in a new programming language, Golang, which I have continued to use at university and will use to develop my dissertation project. Additionally, I learnt new soft skills, including written communication skills and presentation skills. These skills directly relate to those needed for a university dissertation and will be extremely beneficial when I start.

How to deal with job rejection

Getting a job rejection sucks. It can absolutely ruin your mood and make you question yourself. And chances are you will receive more than one before you are finally able to secure a role. So how do you deal with constant job rejections and apply the loss to future success? 

Here are some tips: 


After completing an interview, you might be tempted to immediately focus on what went wrong rather than what went well with intrusive thoughts like “Why didn’t I mention this?” or “I should have known a better answer to that last question.” It is easy to focus on the negatives, so next time you do an interview, try to focus on the positives first. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will give some insight into which areas you are doing well in. 

 A great approach to reflecting on interviews is to think about it from the perspective of the interviewer, both the good and bad parts. Don’t think about how you feel it went but go off the actual interview.  

What do I mean by this? 

During an interview, chances are the interviewer will be taking notes. You should do the same. While the interview is still fresh in your mind, write down the questions asked and what your responses were. Then, bring up the job specification and see where your responses hit the required criteria; highlighting them in green is a great way of visualizing the parts that went well. Following that use a red pen to annotate and add to your answers to see what you might have changed or improved if given a chance to do the interview again. Rather than churning all the thoughts over in your head, getting it written down as a way of reflecting will help you out a lot more in the future. 


Sometimes the easiest way to improve is to ask where you went wrong.  

It is essential if you ever receive a job rejection that you ask for feedback on your application. While you are more likely to receive feedback at later stages of an application process, there is no harm in asking at any stage, from the initial submission of your CV and Cover Letter to the technical test and final interview. The reasons behind a rejection from a certain role can give critical insight into where you need to focus your efforts in the future. It could be something super small and easy to rectify that has been preventing you from moving further in application processes, but you won’t know until you ask. 

You can practice most stages of an application process with the Employability Team, and it is their job to give you feedback. This is less focused on the content you might have, such as your portfolio or experience, and more on how you might answer a question and present yourself. It also gives the added advantage of practice! 


Getting rejected for a role that you have invested time into researching, applying and attending interviews for can really knock your confidence and make you apprehensive for any future roles you apply for. This is why it is so important to keep both your options open and the application momentum up as much as you possibly can. 

It can be tempting after you have applied for a job or reached the interview stage for a role to stall any other applications until you hear back from them.  

Don’t do this.  

While waiting for a certain company to respond back to you, you can use that time to apply for other roles so that you always have at least one on the go at any one time, regardless of if you get a rejection. This is also another great way to gain practice for all stages of an application process, which you can apply to the roles you might be more interested in. For example, you might apply for your dream role but also apply for another role that interests you as a backup. It might take a while for the dream company to get back to you but in that time, you get quite far in the application process for the other job, including a few interviews. You can draw on the experience gained during those interviews during the interview for the dream company.  


Another important thing to consider is something that probably seems obvious, but chances are you don’t think about it as much as you should after a job rejection. You are not alone in this. People get job rejections all the time, including other people who applied for the same job you got rejected for. It can be easy to take the rejection and any criticism you get to heart but there will be others who receive similar feedback. Securing a job is a competitive and lengthy process that you probably won’t nail the first time. And as I have mentioned in the article, there are people who are willing to help you achieve those goals.