I got a job in cybersecurity in 10 months, with no prior IT or cyber experience.
I know that sounds crazy, right?! However, that was my experience, and I feel I should share it by writing this series of articles. My intent for this is to help other people who want to break into cybersecurity. I will say that my experience may not be typical. I have heard stories of people looking for a job for two or more years in this industry with no luck.
Nevertheless, I believe the tools and techniques I used during my transition into cyber are helpful to anyone who embarks on this journey and should shorten the time it takes to get a position in cybersecurity. Some of these articles will be geared towards military members transitioning into cyber as a second career. I will share plenty of valuable resources that are available to you.
I feel very fortunate to be working in this industry. It is exciting, and the pay is great, even for entry-level. However, it’s not easy to get into. You can easily see from a plethora of LinkedIn posts from people who are job hunting, applying to hundreds of openings, and not even receiving a call back that it is tough and humbling. While it is challenging to break in, it is worth it. In addition, if this series of articles helps even one person, then I will be very happy. I received help from so many people I lost count. I am here to help you, you’re not in this alone, and you can do it!
This is just the second in a weekly series, so make sure you check back each week for more content. I am doing this because, although I am still early in my cyber career, I believe I have a unique perspective. I have seen many people who successfully entered this field as a secondary career. A background in IT, helpdesk, and other technical careers certainly would help you secure a cyber security job. However, it is not a requirement; don’t let anyone tell you it is.
You can transition from any other career field into cyber.
I am proof of that. I went from being a professional guitar player and Soldier in the US Army to being a cyber security professional in less than a year from deciding to make the switch. It started with a decision, creating a plan, and executing it. I did not have a plan B. I knew I would break into cyber before I had any knowledge or experience. I decided I’d do whatever it took.
Is cyber security right for me?
Do you feel unsure if cyber is the right career for you? You may have no previous experience in IT or even tech. I didn’t know what to expect when I started my cyber journey. I knew the end goal but wasn’t sure exactly how to get there. So, I talked with dozens of people in the industry and did a lot of research. It can be intimidating not knowing how to navigate this field at first. After all, there is a multitude of different types of roles within cyber. Do you want to be part of a blue team or a red team? An analyst, threat hunter, or pentester? You do not need to figure these things out in the beginning. You may have an idea, but that will likely change as you go through your training and job hunting. It certainly changed for me. You may ask yourself, “Do I have the right stuff to do cyber?” I can tell you that if you have a strong interest in this field and you are okay with lifelong learning and being curious, then you are a good fit. You will find the niche within cyber that makes you want to show up to work excited every day.
What’s next? Some topics include: deciding to go cyber, your ‘why?’, my background, mental toughness, lifetime learning, and mindset. I wrote about this in my first article; if you missed it, you can find it here.
In the coming weeks, we’ll delve into education, bootcamps, certifications, and the Skillbridge program. Also, networking, mentorship, conferences, and your resume. How to sell yourself to the hiring manager by relating prior experience to transferable skills. I will also be sharing resources for military members; there are so many! We will talk about the lifestyle it can give you and the benefits of a cyber career, including but not limited to the pay, work-from-home opportunities, and professional development.
Lastly, we’ll talk about the craftsman mindset and beast mode. The first term is one that I learned from a book called So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport. In the book, he explained how to excel at any craft that you choose through the idea of deliberate practice. A great quote from the book is, “you need to be good at something before you can expect a good job. Don’t follow your passion; rather, let it follow you in your quest to become”, in the words of my favorite Steve Martin quote, “so good that they can’t ignore you.”
Beast mode is a term I heard Mr. Beast talk about in an interview when he was building his YouTube channel. He did nothing but study how to make great YouTube videos every day for 1,000 days. Going into cyber with that type of mindset with result in nothing short of success.
If you think this article series could help your friends, please share it! Also, stay tuned for next week as we dive into the benefits of bootcamps, certifications, and Skillbridge.
About the Author
Welcome to part 2 of my series: How to Break into Cyber Security with no Prior Experience. From deciding to switch careers and go cyber, it took me ten months. In these articles, I’m sharing my personal experience and what I believe helped me succeed in getting into this amazing field. The response from my first article was almost overwhelming, and I’m excited to continue this series. If it even helps one person, then I will be very happy.