Taking Personal Responsibility for your Cyber Security Career
Whether you’re already ensconced in a cyber security career or you’re looking to enter the industry, the road map for your success ultimately lies with you.
There are steps you can take to drive your career in the right direction. If already working in a company with a cyber security division, some organisations will have some kind of career counsellor system in place, which would be a useful initial port of call. Letting your career counsellor or mentor know which area of cyber security you’re interested in, enables them to be on an active lookout for relevant projects for you to develop the skills, experience and expertise you need to move forward.
The good news for people wanting to advance their careers in cyber security is that as an industry it is generally pretty supportive, with companies and people happy to help out and share their knowledge and experience. Dylan Holloway, Cyber Security Manager at EY, asserts there are an endless number of conferences, workshops, talks, webinars and seminars for people to attend either virtually or out of working hours in person. It is those networking opportunities that are key to helping you take personal responsibility for your cyber security career.
“My advice is, if you want to get started in the industry you need to go and engage with the industry,” says Holloway.
Those events can bring you face-to-face with big names in the industry. Think about the bigger picture and go with a clear idea of the kind of work you enjoy doing and with some degree of industry research under your belt. That way when you find yourself in a roomful of industry professionals, you’ll be able to turn it to your advantage. If you find yourself in the same room with the Head of Security at Amazon, for example, make the most of it and ask them about the work they’re doing, the types of challenges they’re facing, and even any opportunities they see coming up or that they currently have. The chances are that even if they can’t help personally, they’ll likely refer you on to someone who can.
“Building a network of professionals within the industry will take you a long way,” says Holloway.
If you’re further along in your career there are a host of industry certifications that will make your CV shine, particularly if you’re more technically focused. Holloway recommends the certifications offered by Microsoft and Amazon as well as Penetration Systems certifications for those interested in advancing their knowledge of the ethical hacking side of cyber security. Furthermore, if you want to work for a specific company or client and they’re using a particular brand of cyber security toolset then having those certifications demonstrates your competency with doing the job.
The more time you spend honing your skillset, the more chance you have of becoming an SME (subject matter expert) in that area of technology and driving your career forward.
From schooling yourself to showcasing yourself, a great way of taking ownership for your cyber security career is to promote yourself as a personal brand. Participating in the industry by going and giving a talk at a university, writing a blog or launching a podcast are all effective means of sharing knowledge in a useful way and creating a platform for yourself as a credible voice on matters of cyber security.
Knowledge is power, not only from a textbook perspective but also from a personal one. Understanding where you fit and add value to cyber security, being able to connect with people who are aligned with your career goals and having the determination to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way; that is how you assert yourself within the world of cyber security in a real and compelling way.