I finally landed a job in infosec! It has a been a long hard road to get here, but I have learned so much in the process. What tiny nuggets can I share with you?
- It really does come down to who you know. I know it’s hard, but even us geeks have to get our schmooze on and network like a champ. Go to those office luncheons, participate in the water cooler talk, or join a local geeks that drink club, etc. This stuff really does matter.
- That being said, you also need some solid skill and experience to round everything out. Volunteer for as many projects as you can. Setup a test LAN environment (or at least a virtual one). Practice attacking and defending actual systems.
- Become familiar with the STAR method and keep it in mind as you are tackling challenging tasks or projects. Get very comfortable with talking about your accomplishments. “STAR” stands for:
Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Task: What goal were you working toward?
Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a project, but what you actually did. Use the word “I,” not “we” when describing actions.
Result: Describe the outcome of your actions and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.
- See stressful situations at work and at home as opportunities for you to learn from. This stress can come from annoying co-workers, demanding clients, or even loved-ones. Try and see the good in those people that simply get under your skin or push your buttons.
- If you haven’t already done, take a personality test. I highly recommend the Enneagram, but there are others. This may even help you focus on a particular career path. It certainly helps you understand yourself, and if you can convince others to take it, it will help you understand them as well.
- Learn how to take criticism and use it constructively to improve yourself. This perhaps may be the hardest to put into practice, but it is an invaluable skill. Look for the truth within the message and use it to recognize your own faults.
So, what’s in store for my future? As I continue to learn my new role, I will look for ways I can improve existing processes and ask the difficult questions that no one has thought of yet. I hope to see how I can support those who have entrusted me with this position and become a valuable member of the team.