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Where to start?

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Posts: 14
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Hello everyone,


I've just recently got my provisional grades (minus the grade for my project) and due to COVID-19 circumstances, it's looking like I'm getting a first in BSc Computer Forensics. This has naturally given me a confidence boost on what I thought was going to be a smooth job hunt, only to get slapped by the hand of reality.


So far the job hunt isn't going so great, and I don't know if it's because I'm looking at the wrong sites, or I may be looking at the wrong roles, or it's simply due to COVID-19 ruining everyone's day. I must admit, I didn't play this smart because I didn't apply for anything before graduating as I was so engaged and occupied with all the work between December and April. Digital Forensics is overall a tough and specific position to be in, especially as a graduate with very little exposure to the working world. I've been looking at random roles regarding forensics and I can't say that I can apply for the roles with confidence as I don't match the criteria.


I feel the best way to get into it again is to start with something basic or generic and slither my way into a desired specialised role. At the moment, I've applied to volunteer for the Metropolitan Police (a process I'm still going through...) in hope that I can be exposed to the daily life of their cybercrime unit.


A little background to help: I have a huge interest in law enforcement and I've always been interested in joining either the police, civil services or a national agency (like the NCA). This is partly the reason why I chose Computer Forensics to study as it was relative and interesting. Through this, I learnt a lot and really enjoyed the investigatory side of things: using Autopsy (which I actually have the 8-hours hands-on basic certificate), FTK and Magnet AXIOM (we were supposed to do courses for those and get recognised qualifications but coronavirus ruined that opportunity). I also enjoyed evidence management (a topic we did practically and theoretically), which allowed us to create our own forms including a chain of custody that we had to maintain with integrity. I believe there was a role called 'Evidence Technician' that sounded very interesting but there doesn't seem to be many trainee or graduate roles relating to it.

I did a module called 'File Systems Analysis', learning the basics of analysing FAT, NTFS and EXT. But I don't really have much of an interest in file systems analysis but I really like the idea of intelligence analysis. There was a trainee intelligence analysis position from the British Army but I'm not too sure about it.

In terms of experience, I was a Volunteer Digital Champion which felt like basic-level tech support. I emphasise basic-level because I'm talking about helping people use the Internet, work their way around a computer, etc. I would occasionally perform complex tasks (which gave me the confidence to upgrade my new laptop and PS4 one day) but I don't know if it's comparable to a professional environment.


And finally, a question: Besides the usual 'reed' and 'indeed' job websites. Is there an appropriate job website for IT graduates, that especially promotes the use of computing in those kinds of services?


Posted : 28/06/2020 7:25 pm
Posts: 539
Honorable Member
Posted by: @gumstickstorage

I feel the best way to get into it again is to start with something basic or generic and slither my way into a desired specialised role. At the moment, I've applied to volunteer for the Metropolitan Police (a process I'm still going through...) in hope that I can be exposed to the daily life of their cybercrime unit.

I'd say that's a good idea (assuming a great job doesn't land in your lap by chance). I know countless people who've come into the field by chance or a sideways move. Getting any role in the field will dramatically increase your chances (whether of progressing at that company to a more involved role or moving to another).

Posted by: @gumstickstorage

I believe there was a role called 'Evidence Technician' that sounded very interesting but there doesn't seem to be many trainee or graduate roles relating to it.

The evidence technician role (or Imaging technician perhaps) might seem like a lowly / factory processing role to many. However countless people will progress from doing that (I'd say maybe even the majority of people probably started doing a role like this at some point). It's important because, whilst it might seem quite production-line "boring", in its simplest form, there's endless peculariaties that will need to be overcome at some point, various legal or technological challenges potentially, and all requiring to be done to a meticulous standard, whilst preserving the original data (or trying to make minimal changes, knowing why, and being able to justify it).

For that reasons, many companies will prefer to hire people into this basic role, rather than straight into an analyst position, because it gives them a chance to assess their ability (and gain trust in them) in doing critical basics, that will be important to know whatever their level.

In many ways I'd say it's actually preferable to get that basic role under your belt, and whilst doing so, you can be angling for the promotion internally, or if that never comes, look elsewhere, with the knowledge you'll be considerably more employable having had that experience.

That foot in the door is all important.

Posted : 28/06/2020 8:36 pm
Posts: 1
New Member

First things first, congratulations on obtaining a potential first class degree. I personally am aware of how much hard work and sacrifices you need in order to do well at Uni.

Secondly, Rich2005 is spot on with his comments regarding looking at applying for a technician role.

This was the perfect starting point of my career in digital forensics. Whilst on training courses during my job, i have spoken to several different workers who gave me some insights into the way various LE departments and how everyone works slightly different. My technician role gave me more knowledge on mobile phones than computers. Other LE technician roles can be imaging only or give you the full package of imaging, processing and an analysis role. 

What i am trying to say is that, the technician role is opening/opportunity into digital forensics which will be valuable to your learning as well as slightly mundane. You'll gain: knowledge on laws, statement writing, technical knowledge of devices, communication skills, getting used to a general working environment and many more skills. I found a lot of students struggle with a working environment at the start. 

My computer forensics degree has now sadly fell by the wayside since i have excelled in the mobile forensics role. However, i have been rewarded financially for a more specialised role in digital forensics. 

When you are looking for roles, don't forget to look on local and regional police force websites as some only advertise for jobs on there websites.

Good luck on your search for a role and in your future career.



Posted : 01/07/2020 11:02 am
Posts: 7
Active Member

I'm kind of in the same boat of figuring out where to start. The idea of starting as an Evidence Technical seems like the way to go. I've got 32 years of tech. writing/tech. support experience, and have learned a fair amount of programming and functional testing along the way. I've been self-studying on and off for a few years, and have had some experience recovering deleted files.

I'm considering reaching out to local law enforcement just to get some experience on a part-time basis, and am also looking into some certifications. I've come across several: CFCE, ACE, CHFI, GCFE (from Sans), and EnCE, just to name a few. Any suggestions will help greatly. Thanks in advance.

This post was modified 4 years ago by captainpharaoh
Posted : 06/09/2020 6:57 am
Posts: 539
Honorable Member

Certifications are no bad thing, however I think you'll reach a point of diminishing returns, without employment.

This being because there's probably two main aspects (oversimplifying things) which come down to:
- Whether the person is technically able/competent to do the job (or drop in without too much hand-holding / ongoing training)

- Whether the person is (or will be) a competent professional in this field (reliability, integrity, ability to explain complex technical subjects to laypersons whilst staying not oversimplifying to the point of being incorrect/misleading, handling the pressure that comes with dealing with the pressure court/barristers or production of the evidence for this, and so on and so forth)

It's quite hard to demonstrate some of the latter aspect without doing it. Depending on the employer they might have different ways to try gauge either of these aspects in interview but it's difficult.

So, whilst certifications are good, I think most employers probably treat them with a pinch of salt, and I'm sure many will have experienced great paper-qualified people in the past, who've turned out to actually be useless when they've come to do the job (whether it being people they've employed or come up against).

Personally, I'd therefore focus significantly more time on trying to find employment, rather than racking up more and more certifications. It's probably why people with a good few years of experience will often be much more appealing to other employers, as the poorer employees are much less likely to have passed their probation, or been retained for those years, and have had time to get to grips with the realities of the job much more. Even if their paper qualifications might be poorer than many candidates that agencies/companies gets CVs from on a regular basis.

Posted : 07/09/2020 9:21 am
Posts: 7
Active Member

Thanks for the feedback. I agree w/your points. I've decided to just pursue a certification for now while building up more experience w/self-study projects. I'll do this until I land a digital forensics gig. The good thing about my current position is that 1) I'm currently working full-time in tech. support and tech. writing and am prepping for life after I retire, 2) I've already taken some courses and have a little personal DF experience already w/home projects, 3) My current job provides me w/some skills that I'll be able to apply to digital forensics. Finally, with it doesn't look like digital forensics is going away anytime soon, so I have time to transition to it. Hope that makes sense.

Posted : 07/09/2020 7:45 pm