So you got a job in Cyber, Now what?
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
So you got the job in cybersecurity. You are super excited and sharing the news with anyone who will listen. You start your first ready to rock. By the end of the first week you are puzzled and think to yourself
And not in the sense of you can't do your job but more of how do I navigate the industry and the role itself to perform to the best of your abilities and excel. When I first got into tech over a decade ago, I had no real goals on where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted this to be my career. And that it became, MY CAREER. It became clear pretty quickly, that just being in the industry wasn't going to help me excel. I knew something had to change.
I wanted to be an SES (Senior Executive Service) in the government, it's like one of the top positions. There weren't enough women in those roles and I wanted to be one. But yeah didn't really know how to get there and didn't really have a network I could tap into. Then that desire turned into wanting to be a CISO of an organization. Yeah I still had no clue how to get there or what to do. It wasn't until 4 years ago that someone asked me what my roadmap looked like for the transition from individual contributor to manager.
A roadmap is just that. A map showing you how to get from point A to B with stops in between. And I had NEVER thought to do one for my career. Once I created a roadmap, it was like clarity ensued. Which brings us here. I want to help you navigate your new role and level up. NOTE: If you are reading this on 2/10, Women's Society of Cyberjutsu is hosting a webinar on this very topic tomorrow 2/11. Register here.
Create your roadmap. Start off thinking about what it is you want to accomplish. For example: I want to help organizations develop, grow and mature their security organization. Focus on the skills you wanna gain. The title will come later.
Figure out how you can get there. This can be one path or multiple paths. To get to the role of helping organizations, I could go the architecture route or the consulting route as both of these require interactions with various stakeholders and players in organizations.
Figure out a time frame. Be realistic in your goals. If you know you procrastinate, your time frame shouldn't be tomorrow. LOL. Think about initial skills and then plan how to gain those and additional ones.
Internet is the best. Start searching for the skills you want to gain. This will lead you to a few roles. Because I wanted to help organizations, one of the roles was a CISO. So I used Linkedin to see the job path of other CISOs to gauge what skills I needed to speak to for the role. While everyone's journey is different, looking at other routes helps you identify your skills gap. You can also take a look the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework to find skills and education and knowledge that may be needed.
Once you identify the skills, add them to your roadmap. You may not gain all the skills you need from work, so be sure to look outside of your regular job.
Find an ally or 2 at your job and have the conversation with them about your goals. They may be able to provide resources and hold you accountable to meeting those goals.
Ask for stretch assignments to help you gain visibility and grow your skillset and your network at work. Doing this will keep you in the forefront of peoples mind for other opportunities.
Network outside the office through meetups and volunteer work. Now your external community gets to know who you are and can provide additional assistance if needed.
Volunteer to give presentations and trainings at work. This shows you take initiative and are truly interested in the work being done.
Get additional education if possible. You increase your knowledge and cam provide more benefit to your boss and team. Always keep learning.
Keep track of everything you have accomplished and share with your boss. This actually works. My girl Keirsten recommended creating a weekly status report. Your boss is busy so helping them see what we have done and any issues makes their job easier and gives you a leg up. Just be sure you are doing the work.
Finally, don't be afraid to talk to your boss about new opportunities that can help you reach your career goals. That can be a hard conversation but you have to have at least once a month. I hated it but did it.
While there are probably many more things you can do to level up and navigate your role, these are a few of my favorite. Take them all, just one, or none but know your future is in your hands. No one will hand it to you.
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