If you are looking for or thinking about eventually getting a job in cybersecurity, here are a few things can do now to start preparing.
1. Read, read, and read!
You are doing it now, so good on you! Cybersecurity is the intersection of many disciplines; too many to list here, in fact. It is not easy to boil cyber security down to one or two topics. The more you read, the better off you will be and the more well rounded you will become.
Do not worry too much about technicals or specific coding languages if you have not yet started. Much of cyber security is about procedure and social engineering and not only coding or vulnerability exploitation.
2. Look into and study for entry level security certifications.
In most cases, entry level security certifications do not require coding experience but can be studied for and memorized. These certifications often have to do with the way data is handled, what to do in certain situations, etc…
These certifications do not mean you can hack but often show an employer that you know the 101s of cybersecurity practices. This is an important step and for many jobs are listed as requirements on the job application.
Your resume will also get a boost by these certifications if you do not have work experience in the field at the point in which you apply for the job. Please note, however, that not all certifications are useful to every job. We will discuss certifications at a later time and OSS can help you study for them!
3. Start hacking as soon as you can!
Being in OSS means you probably have already had some experience in this. As we continue to develop our membership, mission, and curriculum, we are finding more ways to expose our membership to more hacking environments and give each and everyone a great and safe hacking experience.
If there is something you want to learn and we have not yet talked about it, please let us know! In the meanwhile, you can create a virtual machine, and set up an environment to keep your computer safe and you can start hacking away!
Remember, however, that you need to have written permission from the owner of the environment to hack it legally. You do not want to lose your access to a computer for the rest of your life due to a legal misunderstanding.
4. Projects show you know what you say you know!
This has a bit to do with hacking in custom environments. There are many open source projects that you can be a part of or create your own and gather a few of your other interested or qualified friends. Do not worry about knowing everything before starting a project; part of the reason projects have a big impact on your ability to get work is that projects create a sense of adventure and uncertainty. This simulates many real world projects where there really isn’t much for you to go off of.
Projects also show employers that you have combined your knowledge on various or specific topics and applied it. This confirms that you can ‘walk the walk.’
5. Look into, study for, and take advanced certifications such as CISSP.
There are many advanced certifications out there offered by various organizations or companies. This is something you should start familiarizing yourself with once you start looking into the entry level certifications.
As you grown in the cybersecurity world, you can start figuring out which certifications will best help you move up in field you are interested in. Not all certifications have the same weight in the job you may be hired to work. In some cases, such certifications can even help get you pay raises or result in promotions as you scale the ladder of success.
6. Network, network, network!
As a rule in life, networking is king. Make sure to keep in touch with old friends, meet new people who share your interests in college, high school, and, in this case, OSS. These same people can one day help you find jobs or hire you outright.
Today, anywhere from 70 – 80% of jobs are not published or publicized. Instead, many of these positions are filled via the networking efforts of men and women who understood the value of networking. Networking is not exactly a cakewalk, but it is not to be feared. In OSS, we build communities of ethical hackers and work to build bonds that last beyond college and professionalism. As Ivan Misner once put it, “networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.”
Keep in touch with your network and make an effort to socialize with them and remember to be generous. You are part of a network and should be willing to give to this network just as much as take and don’t keep score. If you pick the plant too early, you might miss out when it becomes a tree.
And finally, don’t forget to remember those who helped you get where you are. Networking is an important part of the job hunt but don’t get so caught up in finding a job that you overlook the reality that you need to qualify for it. So enough said, let’s get hacking!