Security engineer

    Grace Nolan

    How do you turn career confusion into your dream job? By taking every opportunity that comes your way. That’s how Grace Nolan landed an awesome career as a security engineer at Google.

    Grace had something of a rocky start to study. Not quite ready to jump into uni, she completed a Certificate of University Preparation at Victoria University before dabbling in a design degree. After six months, she knew it wasn’t the right fit.

    A chance encounter with a group of friends, a rental van and a $30 ticket to Kiwicon introduced her to computer science, and she knew instantly she’d found something special.

    “I felt like I had found my tribe. I enrolled in computer science at the University of Waikato, kept going back to Kiwicon and I slowly became part of the community there. On my sixth year of attending the conference I did a talk on the history of lock-picking in front of 2000 people.”

    The University of Waikato offered an abundance of opportunities for Grace. She began a thriving Computer Science Student Society, became a University Ambassador, and won both the Google Women Techmakers Scholarship and a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing – a prestigious event that celebrates the achievements of women in tech with around 12,000 attendees every year.

    “There are so many opportunities that exist for university students. It’s great to be around people who value critical thinking and who are curious about the world.”



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    Grace started attending and speaking at different industry conferences after graduating. That’s when she met a Google security engineer who encouraged Grace to apply for the team. Grace hadn’t seriously considered working in cybersecurity, but realised she could make a meaningful, global impact in security at Google. So she put all her energy into applying for the job.

    “I thought of it like studying for an exam but in the end I would get a job offer instead of a grade. I have never studied so hard in my life.”

    Now, Grace and her cybersecurity team at Google work to detect and eliminate large-scale threats that are constantly evolving.

    “Hackers might try to steal Google’s intellectual property, or peek at people’s emails, or shut down Google’s services. I do investigations and write automated detection and response systems. Think: designs inspired by traps in the Home Alone movies but for the digital realm.”

    Following in Grace’s footsteps is as simple as finding what you are most passionate about, and doing everything you can to address this.

    “There are so many problems in the world – it’s okay to make small incremental steps and continue to improve what you can. Figure out what you think are the most critical issues, and do what you can towards them. That’s what I do!”


    Learn more about a degree in Computer Science at the University of Waikato.


    This profile is brought to you in partnership with the University of Waikato.

    “There are so many opportunities that exist for university students. It’s great to be around people who value critical thinking and who are curious about the world.”

    Eliza Brockwell

    Author: Eliza Brockwell

    Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.


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