We need more people in cybersecurity — or in technology for that matter — to help take us all to the next level. It has been almost three years since Ronald Eddings and I started the Hacker Valley Studio podcast — an insane but ridiculously rewarding project.
It’s validating seeing people enter or level up themselves in cybersecurity and technology inspired by our content. We receive hundreds of messages asking for advice on how to get into cybersecurity or pivot to a different function within technology. We try to do our best to address these questions by putting out podcasts, videos, and written content. You might be a mentor that has been asking about the way “in” or you might be someone on the journey yourself. You might even be a practitioner looking to pivot to a different job role and have forgotten how to immerse yourself in the process. Regardless of your plight, here’s some advice that might help.
The 10 pieces of advice we give every aspiring cybersecurity/technology professional:
- Self-assess. Write down your current strengths/skills and think about how they might apply to a role in cybersecurity or technology. Do you excel in solving puzzles? Do you enjoy analyzing data? Is math your strong suit? Are you a builder or a breaker? Ask several of these questions and be honest with yourself.
- Research what is out there for you. Read up on different roles and pick a few that might be interesting to you.
- You are not on an island. Build a network of peers in that space and find a mentor that can guide you (LinkedIn is pretty good for that). Keep your friends close and your accountability partners closer.
- Get specific on where you want to be. After you have chosen roles that interest you, find job announcements for those roles (junior and senior) as it will help you with steps five and six. Job announcements are great for highlighting in-demand skills.
- Self-assess again with more granularity. Use the job announcement to assess gaps or weaknesses in your skillset or education.
- Become a constant learner. To fill the gaps addressed in point number 5 and gaps identified in the future, you can either read a book (leaders are readers), take a course, or start a project (my personal favorite).
- Improve incrementally. You might ask, “Why’s a project your favorite?” In our opinion, nothing teaches more thoroughly than hands-on experience and repeated failure. Practice, practice, practice. And when you’re done, practice some more.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Your project might show you that a certain path isn’t for you or it might incite your curiosity. Good! Try another. Fail fast and often.
- Turn over every stone for hands-on experience. If there’s an opportunity at your current job to do something even close to what you want to do, volunteer! Pro bono work is another way to get practice.
- Consistency is key for mastery. Stay consistent. Mastery comes from the constant practice and tuning of one’s craft. If you’re prepared when opportunity knocks, you win.
This isn’t all encompassing, but we think it’s a place to start. Also, this is only our opinion. There are many roads to get to where you want to go. Please let us know if this helps you or send this to someone trying to find their way. Do any of these tips resonate with you? Mentors, would you add anything to this list?
Where can you start learning more about cybersecurity specifically and professional growth? An easy place to be exposed to different fields within cybersecurity is our media network Hacker Valley Media. Come hang out with us here.