27 Apr Choose Your Direction
Choose Your Direction
“If you do what love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony
If you’re thinking about getting into Cybersecurity, ask yourself why. Why do you want to be in cybersecurity? What is it about cybersecurity that piques your interest, or gets your heart racing? We seem to do very little these days to answer our “why”. Unfortunately, that’s where anyone’s career journey needs to start.
More than ever, we want our people to be specialists. We tend to eschew the generalist these days. Your career choices should move you in the direction you want your career to end. We never get away from INPUT PROCESSING OUTPUT. Just like that intro course you took some years back, using the I-P-O cycle we define the OUTPUT first. Where do you want to be the day you decide to retire?
If you love tinkering with computers hardware and software, you just may be a budding cybersecurity talent. If you love assessing risk or assessing the overall risk of a company, you just might be a cybersecurity professional.
When I started my career in the tech sector, over 40 years ago (that seems so surreal to write…) I began as a programmer. I worked on IBM 390 class systems and DEC VAX systems. I absolutely loved being able to make a computer do what I wanted it to do by manipulating the operating system and the code. It was fascinating to me…in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
I had very little interest in the computer hardware side of information systems, as we called it back then. IS (information systems) was a collection of two types of people hardware, and software. The hardware geeks would show up and install the boxes (we had one box for the CPU and one or more for the tape drives) or they would show up when something broke down.
I focused on the software side, where we had to tell the system what track and sector the data we wanted to read or write resided. Yes, it was a different time. When you had to know something of how the machine was built and how the operating system functioned to be able to master coding. After all, our code was often tightly coupled to the OS itself. Fast forward a decade and we had programming languages popping up everywhere. Pascal, Ada, C, and a host of others. COBOL, FORTRAN, BASIC, and Assembler seemed to be taking a back seat, though no programming language that has gone through a general release has ever really died. To me, software was fascinating!
Today we have much more robust systems that are hopelessly intertwined with each other along the internet. While specialization has become the norm for practitioners, Human Resources (HR) still regurgitates job descriptions that have every skill imaginable listed. Although I’d like to say HR is always wrong, they do make an excellent point with their actions. The point? Today you must know something about everything to be a highly effective technical talent. How do you go about deciding on where you want to be? I highly recommend taking some time to try the various roles that you find interesting. Find the roles, research them, and talk to people who occupy them. Learn everything you can using old fashioned research. It will also help your networking skills…just say’n. It also helps to have a home network you can work on to develop your skills.
After you have developed the technical foundation, you need to succeed, look at the soft skills you’ll need to work as part of a technical team. Find out how to relate to those who will work with you and depend on.
As you progress along your career path, you’ll have opportunities to lead. As these opportunities arise you are going to have to make some decisions. Is management where you want to be, or would you rather stay in the technical realm? Either decision is valid. Be forewarned normally, the further you go along the management path, the less technical you become. Technology doesn’t stand still for anyone. Like death and taxes, technological change is inevitable.
When you are first starting in the tech sector, you need to at least begin to think about what your career trajectory will look like over the course of your career. Few people look beyond the “I need a job!” part of the equation. Especially, when first starting a career.
As you develop skills and gain experience, you will be faced with the challenge of working in a team environment. These EIQ skills or soft skills are very important if your career trajectory runs through management. I assure you; management is more about people skills than planning organization and control (the traditional definition of management).
It’s choices like these that will define your career.