After reading Moxie’s post on career advice over at http://www.thoughtcrime.org/blog/career-advice/ I decided write my own for all the young and hungry current and future security professionals. My path was certainly not normal, though most who know me likely know me from my current role at that tech giant or from my days as an industry analyst, the reality is that I had a whole career before in State government. My days there were quiet and deeply technical but it was one of the best experiences of my life. How I got that job and my foot in the door is an interesting story and it certainly did not follow a typical career start. This brings us to the first bit of advice…
5. Pave Your Own Roads
Hacking, security, even business in general is about creativity, use it in getting the things you want in your career. Recognize your resources, exhaust them to their full extent to get to the next step. For me, I was an under-achieving student with averageish grades and no inroads to the security industry. What I did have was an opportunity to do an independent study. Thus, I did an independent study in security, walked into the nearest high CISO’s office and convinced him to higher me through the duration of my study. That was the path to my start in security. Each path will be different however, what is important is to recognize what you have and focus on turning that into the next step.
4. Smile at the Doors as they Shut In Your Face
Doors will shut in your face, there is no doubt about it. Smile at those doors and recognize that if they are worthwhile, you’ll kick them in later (as you see in my third point). Being passionate about a topic makes any loss or setback feel devastating. However, they are nothing of the sort. They are merely obstacles.
At one point in my career, I was invited to apply for a job that was already filled. The move was political, in that the managers were struggling to actually free the resource that they had already hired for the position. They therefore needed a viable candidate to force the hand of those holding the person already hired for the position back. I was used as the sacrificial lamb to force that hand. However, in smiling at that ridiculousness, I was offered four different positions, including one that paid almost 90% more. A year later the person who had the job I thought I had a chance at was asking me for a position.
3. Kick Down the Doors that are Worth Entering
This is plain and simple. If you want something, don’t let a door shutting deter you. Maintain persistence and keep going after it.
2. Make Friends
In many ways making friends should be your top priority. If there is one rule that I try to live by in business it is, “take care of your people.” Eventually they will take care of you as well. Whether that means producing great work as your subordinates or possibly bringing you onboard as a superior someday, the bottom line is that people are the lifeline of the security industry.
1. Never Be Complacent