Hello! I would I would really like to convert into the IT community and go into cybersecurity but I don't have any experience. I'm currently in the Navy Reserves as an Intelligence Analyst and I've been in the Navy all together 20yrs. The job I currently have, I don't have any opportunities to learn the basics of IT and the training. I know there are pipelines different companies have to hire veterans who want experience in the IT field and train them while they are working. I know people have receive jobs with no experience and were able to learn on the job in the IT field only because of well relationships and I don't have any sadly. I'm currently doing online training to learn basics but I really would like to have hands on experience and actually do the work. I live in a suburb outside of Seattle and if there is a way I can connected to some type of company that has program that hires and trains veterans that would be great. I've already researched companies in my area but I have received any traction. I know I'm asking someone and/or a company for assistance but I really want to be able to gain tools and experience while being able to work. If there is a solid opportunity for a career and growth, I wouldn't mind thinking about moving from the PNW.
I call it infosec or information security as I feel "cyber" confuses more than it helps.
Like another said, you train yourself, then teach it, write about it, do videos, and network. Most people I mentor have their degree and a certification or more, but aren't really doing anything beyond this. I advise this ALL the time.
I started years ago learning coding (80s) on my own. Air Force trained me in avionics and I use that experience to this day in troubleshooting and understanding circuits, software, and more. Much later, I did my master's, but I was usually involving myself in other opportunities (volunteer) to expand my knowledge. I also started writing articles on infosec and that helped me position myself to "break in". My mentor left his job and, once I passed CISSP, I was interviewed and hired for his job...at the same time, I was informed I needed to attain 6 more certifications in order to continue the job and pass course work the company had set up for me...my passion drove me for over a year in attaining 4 of the certs and I pretty much trained myself on the course work to pass the hands on exam.
I left that contract (it ended) and moved to another one and now I am kind of removed from the field. However, that has been a blessing as I now question many things in the field and I continue to write about it.
YOU CAN DO THIS. You will see what I told you time and again on social media. I also tell people get deeper than others. When I say that, I am currently studying how to build Linux. I have also done reverse eng exercises (putting executables into ollydebug and playing capture the flag or just look at the code to see what it is doing) all on my own time. I was going to take a job doing Linux back in May 2022 (troubleshooting and making code work on Linux) and my Linux experience is ALL at home on a host (no Windows, only Linux on the host). I primarily perform updates and other tasks on command line in Linux so I learn it and learn it on a continual basis...in my view, command line makes you smarter due to knowing the commands and their switches.
The other question to ask yourself when offered course work that costs money...do you really want to do the course work and pay or teach yourself? When you pay, are you going keep up the skill set if it's hands on? When people do certs, they usually pass the test, and dump everything....those certs cost time and money...think about that when you do a cert is all I'm saying. I have done 4 certs with SANS and I do what I can to maintain the knowledge, but the more I have, the more I have to engage to keep myself involved...this is one reason I stopped doing so many certs. I know a guy, sr reverse engineer, very smart, and only maintains what he needs to hold his job.
One last thing, you will tend to have a lifestyle in security going into this. You will go into a store and question whether or not people can easily shoplift things or bypass self-check out. Quick example, I ask people why they have a credit card on file with Amazon, convenience is the answer...if they have a breach, those people need to rush to "rescue" themselves; but if you don't keep one on file, no real concerns. Again, if it becomes a passion, you start living it.
God bless u in your journey.
Check out Cyber Warrior Academy (https://www.cyberwarrior.com/academy/). I'm pretty sure they still take the GI Bill if that's an option for you. They run 6-month "cohorts." It's like a night school, with classes in the evening. They cover a large array of the cyber field with labs that give you hands on experience that you can put on a resume. The tuition covers the cost for 3 different cyber certifications and they even help (not guarantee) with job placement.
If you do decide to apply with them, reach out to my good friend Gunnar Kallstrom (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gunnar-kallstrom/) on LinkedIn for more advice and insight, and tell him that I sent you.
PNW is a good second tier hub for Tech jobs on par with Austin, Miami, Boston, etc.
Consider IT helpdesk roles to start, reverse engineer path from current openings to start, then get the certification or local community college courses, instead of getting a certification and looking for jobs in that.
Hi Myles, I too was looking to get into entry level IT when I got out. I took some classes at a private-for-profit college (personally from that experience I'd recommend avoiding those types of schools as I felt the education level was sub-par and were way too expensive; that said, I put the classes I did complete on my resume, and it eventually helped me get my first entry-level IT interviews). I struggled for a good while, but at the suggestion of a Veterans Employment Rep from Texas Veterans Commission (Washington may have a similar program for Veteran employment), I started out by getting a job at a call center, though that job was not IT-related. She suggested call center work as a stepping stone to get into a help-desk/tech-support role, and help-desk employers can see that experience as useful for their candidates. My call center job (involving Medicaid) made me pretty miserable quite honestly, but that TVC rep was right; my first IT employer did like that I had some call center experience and gave me a chance, and hired me to be a help desk technician for the VA.
I was laid off from that job unfortunately due to a change of contract and now work in a different field, but am currently studying for the CompTIA Security+ certification, which I've been told is a good, respected entry-level cybersecurity/infosec certificate to have. I do know two people who have gotten cybersecurity roles without those types of certificates or really any technical training, though they had degrees (in unrelated fields). From what they've told me it sounds like they were VERY lucky and were basically invited to do those jobs because there was a need in their companies and their employers felt they could learn and grow into the role. The takeaway from that is that if you can demonstrate knowledge and ability it is possible to get into those positions, even without credentials or qualifications. For my own part, I won't count on that kind of good fortune and that's why I'm pursuing a certificate. Certainly look into all the advice, resources, and learning opportunities other people have posted about here, and add any coursework or online training you've completed to your resume. Hopefully you won't need to work a bad call center job like I did, or at least not for too long, but I thought I'd add a little about my personal path just in case.
Two more learning resources I'd recommend are CodeRed, which regularly offer online classes for dirt cheap https://codered.eccouncil.org/ ,
and the publisher No-Starch Press (get on their email list for tremendous sales, also their titles are all available at low prices as PDF files if you have an e-reader or don't mind reading books on a device). https://nostarch.com/
If you decide to take up the path to a Security+ cert, the book I'm using is Security + Get Certified Get Ahead by Darril Gibson. A new purchase also provides a 10% discount for the exam voucher.
All the best, good luck on your journey!
@Myles. First of all thanks for your service to the nation.
You have chosen a great area where there is so much demand for the skilled personnel. Also, you have already got a lot of great advice here.
I would like to suggest using Premium Career (Jobs) resources from LinkedIn to which veterans can get access complimentary for a year. It also includes useful Learning resources too. This is otherwise valued at $29-39 per month or so, I believe.
You can use it to (1) get a feel of the job market (2) make network in the company/industry (3) learn interactively from others with similar interests.
Hope it helps!
First, thank you for your service fellow veteran.
Some thoughts to your questions:
- Don’t sell yourself short. There is a plethora of resources for learning IT and information security on your own online, books from the library, community college classes, local meetup.com gatherings, and local technology related organizations. Many of us in IT and InfoSec are self-taught, with little formal education in the field.
- You do not have to do IT to get into information security – though it does help depending on the infosec role.
- Regarding an InfoSec journey, I can suggest, or rather recommend is some reading:
- The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Clifford Stoll https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cuckoo%27s_Egg_%28book%29
- How To Become A Hacker http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html
- How To Ask Questions The Smart Way http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html
- Hacking Your Career A practical guide to turning your hacking experiences into a career launchpad. https://medium.com/@notdan/hacking-your-career-8c219a770212
- Also the blog series from Lesley Carhart (aka tisiphone.net) regarding starting a career in InfoSec:
- Starting an InfoSec Career – The Megamix – Chapters 1-3 https://tisiphone.net/2015/10/12/starting-an-infosec-career-the-megamix-chapters-1-3/
- Starting an InfoSec Career – The Megamix – Chapters 4-5 https://tisiphone.net/2015/11/08/starting-an-infosec-career-the-megamix-chapters-4-5/
- Starting an InfoSec Career – The Megamix – Chapter 6 https://tisiphone.net/2016/02/10/starting-an-infosec-career-the-megamix-chapter-6/
- College and Infosec: To Degree or not to Degree? https://tisiphone.net/2017/05/15/college-and-infosec-to-degree-or-not-to-degree/
- The Worst InfoSec Resume, Ever https://tisiphone.net/2016/03/17/the-worst-infosec-resume-ever/
Myles, Our firm typically posts Cyber roles in our Nashville, TN and Weehawken, NJ.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am in the same boat. I'm also an intelligence professional looking to pivot into cybersecurity. Check out the Certified in Cybersecurity certification offered by (ISC)2, an organization that specializes in the training and certification of IT professionals: https://www.isc2.org/Certifications/CC?filter=featured&searchRoot=A82B5ABE5FF04271998AE8A4B5D7DEFD. It's free and gets your foot in the proverbial certification door.
Best of luck to you as you transition to cyber!
I work for a community college, and many times, the nearest one to you will have programs just like this for veterans. In some instances, you get paid a really lovely living stipend to study IT/cybersecurity materials as well as get your education paid for by the military. Bonus, bonus! The community college may already have an employer lined up who has charged the college with finding and training future cybersecurity employees. It's worth talking to an academic advisor at a local community college or contacting more than one. Good luck. This is a much-needed area and I am sure you will find what you need.
I’d suggest that you network at the target company or industry. Use LinkedIn to find people already working there and reach out to them. Ask them the process they used to get hired and ask them to help you navigate the hiring process and if they are willing, ask them to submit you as a referral. These activities require much more time on your part but in my opinion would greatly increase your chances for success. Good luck!
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