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Trying to define a pathway


Ruben Rivera Stafford, VA

Hello everyone,

I have about 23 credits until I get my degree from the University of Maryland in Software development/security. Based on the conversations I've had with the school I should graduate around spring 2023. It's taken me more than 20 years to get this degree, I started the second year in the Marines and I'm still at it a few years after retirement so it's very important for me. Having said that while I will be a full time student until I graduate I also need to focus on trying to get in my field. I have completed a Full stack software development boot camp, I have my CompTIA Sec plus certification, CEH and basic Splunk. I have a github account, a portfolio, a resume, a website, projects I developed while in the bootcamp but it all needs to be optimized, right now it's definitely not something I'm proud to show.

Like most people around the world my family have been through a tough last couple of years with losing jobs, finances dwindling, deaths in the family so I pretty much neglected the software development/security passion/career build up I had.

Basically between now and maybe in the next few months I want to create more meaningful projects to show. Optimized my resume, document in github, maybe rebuild my website and engage more with my network mostly in Linkedin.

Basically I'm looking for someone or a place that can help me get ready for the next few months with my resume, tips on projects, how to engage in a meaningful way with my network so that as I get close to graduation I can be proud to show off my work and hopefully get leads on potential jobs.

Thank you for any help


19 May 2022 7 replies Mentoring



Jason Smith Cleveland, OH

Hi Ruben,

First off, congratulations on both your retirement from the Marines and your achievements since then. It sounds like you're well on track towards a successful second career.

The folks above have some pretty solid advice all around. The one thing I'd add is that I'd recommend to start reaching out to people working in roles you might like and for companies you might like to start conducting informational interviews to learn about the roles and companies. Especially since software development / CEH / Splunk each point to slightly different entry points, and it might be helpful to find out which one you'd prefer to focus on. Additionally, the connections you'll make as you do that can go further in getting your foot in the door t a company you love than any certification can.

As a retired Marine who transitioned into Cybersecurity several years back, I'd be happy to talk to you more about if you're interested. Best of luck in finding a role you love!

25 May 2022 Helpful answer


John Porell East Hartford, CT

Hi Ruben,
If you are looking for a more meaningful project to highlight your skills in coding I would suggest that the type of project is not as important as what you include in it. Meaning the project should include the following:
Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)
Automated Unit tests
Static Scans for Security and linting
Deployment to the public cloud (AWS, Google or Azure)
Try including a github action to add to the information to the pull request or run one of the scans.
Use a no-sql back end like MongoDB or DynamoDb
Showing that you have a firm grasp on the tools used in the software delivery lifecycle and implementing clean code will go a long way when discussing the project with prospective employers. You can highlight your security credentials with comments in the code about ways to avoid cross site scripting or sql injection.
You can do all this in a HelloWorld approach or build something a little more complex but it is the layers and tools that will get evaluated more than whether there is a cool user interface or how it meets the use case you built it for.

25 May 2022 Helpful answer


Krista Loven Seattle, WA

Hi Ruben,

Thank you for your service! I'm the previous colleague Andrea mentioned in her reply. I previously worked in nonprofit operations (at ACP!) and then transitioned into tech/software engineering in 2019 by going through a bootcamp.

I'll echo what other have said, an internship would be a valuable opportunity to get some hands on experience in the field. I never did an internship, though. Instead I started working on an open source project, which was the best decision I made in my career transition. I say that because it gave me the opportunity to work with experienced engineers who gave me valuable, pointed feedback. And, when I started interviewing for a full time role, I was able to pull up the open source project (both code and live project) I had been working on and talk about how I contributed and the impact my contributions had. I found the open source project I worked on by going to a local meetup. There might be something similar in your area, or you can checkout Github Topics and see if anything sticks out to you (

Regarding your existing portfolio, let me know if you'd like me to look over a project or two and leave feedback. Feel free to send me a direct message as well.

23 May 2022 Helpful answer


Andrea Bryant New York, NY

Hi Ruben,

Thank you for your question and thank you so much for your service! Yours is a story of putting others first with your 20 years in the Marines and focus on family, and now it's time to focus on you. It makes for a tough transition!

Of course, an ACP mentorship can be enormously helpful, though if recollection serves, Mentors with experience in the exact field you are looking for can vary in availability. Still, a Mentor with career experience and a solid network can help you to effectively navigate the rough outline you already have for yourself.

With a year left before graduation, have you inquired with the University of Maryland Career Center about internships or job fairs to get some experience? This can also give you a better idea of what potential employers are looking for, and tailor your resume and portfolio accordingly. They should also be able to give guidance on interview skills, which always seem to be needed much sooner than any plan anticipates!

I will reach out to a former colleague who has moved into this industry in the last couple of years to see if she has any tips for you. In the meantime, my best, generic advise is: what do you want? There is plenty to consider, from company, to compensation, benefits, relocating and more. Weigh what is of highest importance to you, and a much clearer path of how to get there will emerge. Good luck!



23 May 2022 Helpful answer


Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

Have you looked at an internship? These can be very helpful in actually building experience along with gaining some form of network. I would also start conducting some informational interviews with folks in your chosen career field. Find out what they use in their daily work, what they found they did not need as much as they thought. The best source of information if speaking with people doing your future job. As you conduct interviews, ask the person for other people they think might be willing to answer some of your "informational" questions. This will start building a network, the bigger the network the better chance of someone mentioning an opening-keep in mind this comes down the road-seek information let someone from the network approach you for potential work. Is DOD Skillbridge and option. You could look into HireMilitary, they have some good leads in the transition process. Thanks for your service.

23 May 2022 Helpful answer


Sasibhushan Rao Chanthati Owings Mills, MD

Hello Ruben,
I can help you out with improving IT skills.
You can reach out to me @
You can also look into my article, there are around 2000 jobs posting Linkedin url's.
You can click on them an apply for jobs.
Many Thanks,
Sasibhushan Rao Chanthati


Richard Byrne Hillsborough, NJ

I've added links to information & videos under these sections of my EE webpage that might be useful to you: - see section on navigating the - convert LinkedIn profile to resume. - job search - Federal Gov Job search - VA programs - programming languages - online resources

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