After 3 years, I’ve graduated from Cambridge!
Normally, I wouldn’t have chosen to graduate. Cambridge offers an integrated Master’s programme, which has a range of advanced modules as well as a research project. And staying on was something that I’d wanted to do since before I’d applied to Cambridge – staying on at Cambridge for another year offers a chance to talk to learn from some of the brightest students in the world while some very smart people, while learning how to be a researcher (Cambridge effectively calls it year 0 of a PhD). In addition, I would’ve loved another year with the friends I’ve made at Cambridge. However, this year a lot of the courses I wanted to take (namely those focusing around cybersecurity and technology in society) were removed from the course list by the Computer Laboratory, meaning that staying for another year would’ve been detrimental to my long-term goal of cybersecurity research.
It’s feels strange to finally be out of the bubble. For one, there’s no more apocalyptic workload to constantly drain my sanity, and my welfare has significantly improved since graduating. I’ll also miss having such a dense concentration of really smart people, both in computer science and in every other subject offered at Cambridge. While it will certainly be possible to find careers and conferences where everyone is extremely smart, I’ll have to actively seek them out again; and it’ll be very difficult to come across world experts in, say, history, or Chinese history. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m also leaving behind the last time I’ll feel truly free like a student – even if I return to academia to do a PhD in the future, it’ll feel more like a kind of job than being a student.
So, what’s next? In the career sense, I’m incredibly fortunate to get to graduate straight into a cryptographic engineering position, joining a startup called Angoka. Angoka works to build a more secure internet of things, securing the communications of drones, satellites, connected vehicles and other smart devices. The job is incredibly research-focused, and it’s great to be getting research experience here. In addition to cryptography, I’ve also started training to be a cybersecurity analyst (perhaps I’ll try to go for certifications at some point?), and I’m continuing to learn Japanese at Imperial College London. After that, who knows? The world of cybersecurity is huge, with opportunities in virtually every industry. I could work in security in government, banking, defence, healthcare – you name it There’s no limit to the directions in cybersecurity! In addition, I’d still love to get a PhD at some point. This probably wouldn't be straight off the bat – perhaps I’d return to academia after 5–10 years’ industry experience – but I’d love to go back to get a PhD and enter the world of research!
So farewell, Cambridge. It’s been really fun (if stressful) studying here. I've made some brilliant friends here and learnt absolutely tons in computer science. But now, I venture into the real world, leaving Cambridge a fond (or not-so-fond) memory!