"It's no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then." - Lewis Carroll
I got into cyber – I got into cybersecurity by way of IT Operations. I was in IT operations for about 10 years before I started getting really interested in Cybersecurity. I started researching vulnerabilities and how they interact together through vulnerability chaining. That led me to a Doctorate of Science in Cybersecurity where I studied vulnerability scoring and metrics. I met one of my first mentors in cybersecurity, Dr. Philip Kulp, who gave me an opportunity to be a security engineer and start my transition into cybersecurity. And the rest is history – I’m a total cyber nerd now!
For me, a positive cyber mindset is – being patient. I’ve learned that a lot of issues, problems, and incidents that occur require a bit of patience. That means patience with both the technology I work with, as well as the people I interact with. In the event of an incident, tensions run high, and typically people work long hours. If I can be patient and kind in those situations, it can help ease the stress and help resolve any issues faster.
The skill that helped me transition to a career in cyber was – all my background work on Helpdesk. When I was on the Helpdesk, I had to learn about all aspects of people, processes, and technology. Getting called early in the morning by frustrated users, it took me time to learn that if I could help solve their technical problem, I was also potentially helping make their day a little easier. The combination of technology and psychology I learned on the Helpdesk has carried me through into cybersecurity. That and the intense problem-solving capabilities I needed! I approach each cyber incident or vulnerability in much the same way – learn what’s going on with the tech and the people – problem solved.
My top tip to those interested in transitioning to a career in cybersecurity is – to network like crazy! Meet everyone you can; volunteer for cyber conferences, look for local organizations and groups like InfraGard, ISSA, and ISC2 chapters to meet your local security network. You can also ask your new network what certifications they recommend, potential job openings for security positions, and if they could potentially be a mentor. Networking can help introduce you to people who will answer those tough questions and may be your transition into cybersecurity.
I would tell my younger self – to be kinder to myself. To have a good balance between taking my career seriously, and still having fun with what I’m doing. Certifications, education, training, and working hard are all incredibly important, but so are self-care and balance. Taking care of yourself will make you more present in your job and help with focusing on complex tasks.
The quote I live by is – by the one and only Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland, “It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” Keep moving forward and don’t let imposter syndrome or fear hold you back from trying new things and growing in your career.