I got into cyber through national security – which my Master’s is in. My first position writing cyber security policy was a great opportunity to learn more about space and became my career.
The biggest influencers in my career were the bosses that really saw something in me and who encouraged me to grow and explore. There are several leaders, that I still consider mentors today, who actively advocated for me and inspired my drive and creativity.
Female leaders, I saw on boards, as Directors and CEOs also really inspired me. These women, and others, still inspire me today to work to expand the representation of women in leadership positions. In positions where I didn’t see myself or people like me, as much as I would have liked as a young girl from Ohio.
I would tell my younger self to take more risks when I was young. I find myself taking a lot more risks now further along in my career because I feel like I’m more secure, financially, and career-wise.
I realize now more than ever that it’s so important to find that work that you feel passionate about. Sometimes the only way you can do that is to take positions or internships that offer great learning and network development opportunities that don’t necessarily pay a lot of money. These can be critical decisions to take at the beginning of your career.
They can pay back dividends and I wish someone had encouraged me to go in that direction. I went to Ohio State, a very large college. At that time there was not the same direct support to identify and access internships and experiences to explore passion areas, or someone to tell you these are your strengths, have you thought about X or Y as a career options? And my family wasn’t in a position to help me because they were immigrant and didn’t know the system – I think a lot of people are in that position.
Now there are groups to help students get into internships or get a scholarship or pay for certifications, such as Women’s Society of Cyberjitsu, Cyber Black Girls Code, Girls security, Share the Mic in Cyber – look for the opportunities available to you, and, and I hate that I have to say this, apply! So many people lose opportunities, especially women, because they hesitate and think they’re not qualified. You’d be surprised – believe in yourself.
Go to Uniting Women In Cyber and women’s cybersecurity groups, these are great places to meet people. Research and find these organizations. Read articles like, ”See it To Be It” Spotlights 😊
The more you network and connect the more you’ll find support for your dreams.
The skill that most set me up for success is tenacity. Once I have an idea that I really believe in, I find ways to get it done. I think that has helped me so much. At times I’ve had to learn to restrain it a little bit because I can be fairly forceful, but my tenacity has set me up really well for taking on larger and larger projects. I’ve been able to achieve things that some people thought were impossible.
Also getting things done builds trust and shows the tangible results of ideas. Not everybody will join along simply on an idea. There’s a lot of great ideas that can’t and don’t happen. I think getting things done, being able to implement ideas, is critical.
If I had to choose a skill that is actionable, that you can really improve if you work on it, it would be communication, both verbal and in written. It’s important. Not just to take notes, or to draft, large white papers, but being able to crystallize your ideas into a form that you can translate to others. Communication will enable you to share your ideas in a way that makes other people not only supporters, but active participants in your vision.