There's been a lot of discussion on social media around how to "break into" the cybersecurity field, not only for folks just starting out but also for those looking for a career change. This is not unusual, given what we've seen in the public news media around cyber attacks and ransomware; the idea is that cybersecurity is an exploding career field that is completely "green fields", with an incredible amount of opportunity.
Jax Scott recently shared a YouTube video (be sure to comment and subscribe!) where she provides five steps to level up any career, based on her "must read for anyone seeking a career in cybersecurity" blog post. Jax makes a lot of great points, and rather than running through each one and giving my perspective, I thought I'd elaborate a bit on one in particular.
Jax's first tip is to network. This is profound...really profound...for a number of reasons.
First, what I see a LOT of is folks on social media asking for advice on getting into the cybersecurity field, without realizing that the "cybersecurity field" is a huge, expansive...there are a lot of different things you can do in the field. Networking lets you see what you may not see, and it affords you the opportunity to see different aspects of the field. For example, there are more technical (pen testing, digital forensics) aspects of "cybersecurity", as well as less technical (incident management, compliance, policies, etc.) aspects. Not everyone is suited to everything in this field...I once worked with/mentored an incident response consultant who got so anxious when it was their turn to go on-site that they once had to check themselves into the hospital, and another analyst had to take the engagement.
Second, when you do network, make sure that it's purposeful and intentional. Clicking "like" or "follow", or just sending someone a blind connection request on LinkedIn, isn't really "networking", because it's too passive. If you're networking to develop an understanding of the field, and to find a (new) job, just following or connecting to someone isn't going to get you there.
Networking with intent affords us something else, as well. In his book, "Call Sign Chaos", retired Marine general Jim Mattis stated that "...your personal experiences alone aren't broad enough to sustain you." This is just as true in the cybersecurity field as it is to the warfighter, and intentional networking allows us to broaden our experiences through purposeful engagement with others.
I see recommendations on LinkedIn all the time with tips for how to develop your "brand", and most include things such as leaving a comment rather than liking a post, referring to/referencing other posts, as well as other activities that are active, rather than passive. All of these amount to the same thing...purposeful, intentional networking.
Be sure to check out and subscribe to Jax's YouTube videos for a lot of great insight and information, as well as follow the "Hackerz and Haecksen" podcast for some insightful interviews and content!