Almost a year ago to the day, I enrolled at SecureSet Academy’s HUNT Program in Denver, CO. The HUNT Program, many late nights studying and several drops of sweat equity later, I can say I have transitioned out of my dead end supply chain management career to information/cyber security. Successfully. Much like Fresh Prince, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became cyber security professional not in Bel-Air.
After the towers fell on 9/11, many young men and women like myself knew exactly what we wanted/needed to do. I was a sophomore in high school at the time, but the following year as junior my mind was made up: I was going to serve in the military. I thought I was going to enlist in United States Marine Corps but my father, a Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, killed that notion pretty quickly. I believe he said, “Over my dead body”. I was then volun-told by my father to apply for an ROTC scholarship. Before I knew it, I was raising my right hand to be an officer in the United States Army in 2004. Fast forward to 2007, I received my branch assignment in the Army: Transportation Corps. To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to be doing in the Army as a Transportation Officer, but I knew it wasn’t what I had hoped for (see glossy brochure with pictures of kicking in doors, rappelling out of helicopters, shooting guns, etc. etc.). But “needs of the Army”, so I soldiered on.
By August 2009, I was deployed to Iraq and by October 2013 I was officially tired of the “needs of the Army” and I made my exit. For the next four years, I bounced from job to job, in an attempt to make the best of the skill set the Army had given me experience in, supply chain management and logistics. I wasn’t bad at it. I actually thought private sector logistics was amazing compared to the slow bureaucratic logistics of the military. But one fact remained from the Army just as much as the experience it had provided: I hated logistics and supply chain management. It was never what I wanted to do in the Army and the square peg, round hole approach in the private sector only left me more frustrated with every job I took.
Thankfully, my wife took noticed of my frustrations with my profession and pointed out during the summer of 2017 that, “You need a job working on computers”. So I did what anyone who doesn’t know anything about something they like and I Googled it. See, I was destined to work with computers. . At this point in time, coding boot camps were really taking off. Or at least they were. I looked at several but every time I saw lines of code after code my eyes would glaze over and, I thought I to myself, “I like computers buuuuut, I don’t want to be a code monkey”.
So I continued searching and came across edX.org, which offered free courses on cyber security. Now in my youth (and I’m going to date myself), I watched an online show called thebroken with Kevin Rose, Hak5 with Darren Kitchen, and of course the Angelina Joile in Hackers. These shows changed the way I viewed computers forever. So when I learned about “cyber security” I thought to myself, “Like hacking and stuff? Sign me up!”. And that’s what I did. I enrolled in some classes from edX.org and started learning the basics of cyber security and networking. For free. The courses were and are great, but I knew I was going to need something more and something fast if I was going to escape the numbness I felt towards logistics.
The Google-Fu was strong with me that day and a few keystrokes later, I found SecureSet Academy. Originally the plan was for me to attend in 2018, but unemployment struck and I had a whole bunch of free time on my hands all of a sudden. Odd how that happens! With less than 48 hours before the Fall 2017 HUNT Cohort began, I called the admissions office and asked if I could attend a little sooner. Like the following Monday. The Denver SecureSet team said “sure” and the rest is history!
Well sort of. This is the extremely tl;dr version of my life covering about 14 years. But, what I really want to say this being my first VetSec post is this: if you’re a veteran reading this or maybe you’re not a veteran you’re just here trying to figure out how to get into infosec, DIVE IN. There are more opportunities here than you can shake a stick at and if you’re willing to put in the work, you will succeed. There are so many exciting things going on within information/cyber security. You’re bound to find something that peaks your interest and appeals to you.
Veterans, I want to specifically speak to you and share that VeteranSec.com serves as a way for us who have served to give back and help each other succeed transitioning from boots to the IT career field. I would highly encourage you to join our Slack here if you’d like to learn more, ask questions, network and have a few laughs. Thanks for reading and I look forward to meeting you soon!