Has anyone ever heard of an entry-level cybersecurity position? The answer is NO because these positions are golden unicorns – they don’t exist. Any position remotely close to an entry-level job is typically reserved for a computer science graduate. Still, even for them, is not an easy position to receive. These graduate students must compete for extremely competitive internships at prominent cybersecurity firms with hopes to finally get their “foot in the door.” Everyone else looking to transition into the industry feels like its “good luck” and “farewell!” Without an

entry-level position, this poses a considerable challenge for anyone seeking to enter the branch of Cybersecurity. So what can you do to land that next interview?

In this blog, I am not going to discuss the “why” it’s challenging. Instead, I will provide tools and techniques that helped me get over this hurdle. Below are some of the steps I took, and if they worked for me they could work for you.

Everyone likes receiving a 5 step program, so at last, here you go! 5 steps to help you get started in your cybersecurity career:

  1. Network, network, network! I am not referring to building networks into subnetworks or subnet masking even though this is good to know. I am referring to networking with other people in the cybersecurity industry over drinks. There is a simple technique for this process. Research the event. If you know the name of the event, get on Google and research who attends these events. Identify the key players and determine how you could approach them. Also, determine if it is the appropriate time to approach them, or if you simply want to “make face.” I must add to this point — it should be common sense — but never approach someone half-drunk or without talking points. Both are just as bad. You could be engaging top leaders in this industry and you only have one chance to make an impression. Don’t let this impression be you spilling your dirty martini on their shoes or not having appropriate talking points and instead you wast their time. You may never get another chance, so know your audience and be prepared with 2-3 talking points before you approach them. Also, it’s good to know current cybersecurity events as it will show that you are up to date with news. (My recommendation: The Cyberwire). Many jobs in this industry are obtained by knowing the right person, so go out there and network.

  2. You must have an insatiable desire to learn. In this industry, there is limitless material to be learned. If you believe it is possible to learn everything, I would recommend a new field. There are a ton of free online training resources. Although this is great, this can be extremely overwhelming, as I felt like I had countless options. I had no idea where to begin. What helped me start was a beginner program through Cybrary. Training in this industry can be extremely costly, and with a limited income, it is hard to justify spending 7K on a course. Build your knowledge and resume with these foundation courses such as Cyber Threat Intel, CompTIA, Sec+, and Net+. A couple more recommendations you can check out Udemy and Pluralsight. I have used them all, and I love them all.

  1. Learn the lingo… This is a lot easier said than done. This is coming from a 17-year combat veteran who has endured entire meetings being communicated through acronyms. The more you can use acronyms to get your point across the more cool points you receive. Every branch has its own unique acronyms, and if you don’t know the lingo, you’re automatically an outcast. It’s similar in the cybersecurity world. Know the terms that are important. Examples of these include CIA Triad (different CIA), IOC, API, APT, ATT&CK, SIEM, and TIP (not the kind you give at a restaurant). I will refrain from providing you the answers to these acronyms; if you don’t know them I encourage you to go and research the answers.

  2. Volunteer at a nonprofit. This is a great way to give back while refining your skills. Volunteer your technological skills to assist nonprofits with their cybersecurity poster.  Team Rubicon and other larger organizations have an independent technology department. Many times you could be working alongside other professional leaders who have reached the top of their career and have the time to give back, which makes it a great way to network. Find a local nonprofit in your area and go volunteer.

  1. Join meetup groups such as Learn to Code, Toastmasters, and/or Capture the Flag (CTF) groups. I have attended a few free courses on CTF and every time I leave with more knowledge and 1-2 more contacts for my LinkedIn network. Also, Toastmasters specifically is a great way to help you with public speaking. Since I, and many others in this industry, are introverts, a great way to set yourself apart is by increasing your Emotional Intelligence “EQ” and interpersonal skills. This does not mean you have to go out and be super social all the time, however, learning social skills and increasing your EQ could be the deciding factor of being hired or not. Here is a quick quiz to test your current EQ. I also recommend reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn. (This is what the military calls an unspecified task). If you need LinkedIn guidance, check out this article by LinkedIn on how to better present yourself on LinkedIn.

Share your thoughts and experience below and share this article with your network. Thanks for reading!

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2 years ago

This article is quite insightful!