The path to a cybersecurity career can be a lonely one, especially for career changers. While your friends and family can provide emotional support, they likely aren’t equipped to provide more practical support as you learn, network, and job search. It’s not of lack of desire. Cybersecurity is just a particular career field. There are simply limitations on the support that people not focused on cybersecurity can provide.
Benefits of Community
To solve for this, you’ll want to develop your community of fellow aspiring cybersecurity professionals. This is a group with whom you can share the trials and tribulations of your cybersecurity journey. Most obviously this community can support each other during the learning process. You can compare notes as you study. Help explain concepts to each other. Discuss the best ways to prepare for certification exams.
Your cybersecurity community can help each other in less obvious ways as well. A classic challenge for people pursuing their first cybersecurity role is determining how to update their resume to be an attractive cybersecurity applicant, when they have no cybersecurity work experience yet. Your community can compare LinkedIn profiles for their suitability to display your newly found cybersecurity prowess. You can share tips on networking and introduce one another to new contacts.
Some might consider the ability to share notes on what led to interviews the most important function of your cybersecurity community. In reality having a community to which you can vent and talk about the challenges of career transition may be the most valuable aspect.
Building Your Community
Cybersecurity bootcamps, certificate and degree programs provide the most obvious places with ready-built peer groups. However, you still have opportunities to build your cybersecurity community, if you’re pursuing a self-paced learning path. Meetups are an effective way to meet like minded people. You can find both local and virtual communities there.
A number of cybersecurity conferences—like BlackHat and ShmooCon—have added virtual options due to COVID-19. There is opportunity to meet people in the various “rooms,” which these conferences create in an attempt to replicate the in-person environment. Social media also offers opportunities to meet people pursuing similar cybersecurity career goals. LinkedIn is always the go-to platform for career networking, but the internet offers so many cybersecurity-related platforms, like Hack-the-Box.
To build your cybersecurity community is something that will likely require intentionality. Just as you’ve developed a plan to knock out your cybersecurity certifications of interest, develop a plan to make some cybersecurity friends. The journey to a cybersecurity career can be challenging. Having some company makes it a bit easier.