Author: Joy Marzonia
I used to work as a corporate nurse with plans to get into medicine eventually. But everything changed for me when I enrolled in a cybersecurity course in 2019 and fell in love with the field. From then on, my whole focus shifted and I made it a goal to join the tech industry instead.
People are often surprised to learn I don’t have a traditional cybersecurity background. But I am truly passionate about it and fascinated by how technology works. I’m also an agile learner, and one of the main reasons I chose cybersecurity was because the learning never stops. There is always something new to learn about emerging security tools and processes. As someone who loves the challenge of solving problems, it’s an exciting and satisfying career for me.
I’ve had an unusual career path, so I hope I can show others that it’s always possible to change direction – and that it’s never too late to get into tech!
My path into cybersecurity
I always loved technology. Before I got into cybersecurity, I did a bit of freelance website development. I came across some web security concepts that piqued my interest, so I researched it some more and became very interested in the security field. This is what inspired me to start pursuing a tech career – more specifically, cybersecurity - permanently.
In 2019, after moving to Australia from the Philippines, I was offered the chance to complete a government funded cybersecurity course due to my background interest in tech. I signed up, despite my lack of cybersecurity experience, and started building my own virtual security labs at home and experimenting with them.
I enjoyed every minute of it. From then on, I was hooked, and I hacked my way in - in a good way!
My advice if you are interested in getting into cybersecurity too
Right from the beginning, our lecturers advised us to start reaching out to people in the industry. After all, we were going to end up competing against applicants from formal IT backgrounds who had moved into cybersecurity, and they would have an obvious advantage – so networking was the best step we could take to land a job in cybersecurity.
Therefore, it won’t surprise you to read that my biggest piece of advice for people wanting to get into cybersecurity is to start networking! That’s what really worked for me. There are amazing people out there – you just need to take the first step and reach out to them.
From the first term of my course, I reached out to all sorts of people on LinkedIn, including people who had done the same course and landed a job afterwards. It’s a good thing they actually responded to me! Thanks to their advice, I made a plan for myself. I began job hunting, putting myself out there and joined relevant groups and organisations.
One of these groups was the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN). I volunteered to help them manage their YouTube account by editing video and SEO and that became my starting point in cybersecurity. Ultimately, all of this led me to where I am now at CGI.
No matter your circumstances, you need to have a definite plan. Put it on the wall so you are able to track your progress. STEM and cybersecurity is a vast field, and it is okay if you don't really know what you want at first. Just concentrate on building your knowledge, trust the process and you will get there. All of these experts you see in this industry were newbies once too!
If you’re a woman, I would also suggest not being quiet and staying in the background. Lots of women are entering cybersecurity – there’s no reason to feel displaced or alone as a female in this industry. In fact, one of the things I love about working at CGI is that women are encouraged to speak up and my ability as a woman has never been questioned. Find your voice because it will fuel your passion.
Make yourself unique
Above all, if you don’t have a university degree in IT, you will need to make yourself unique. Remember, there are always elements of your existing career that you can bring into your tech career and make them your strengths.
For example, I was a president for the Red Cross at university and I brought those leadership skills with me, especially in my present role at CGI. If you are a good communicator, you can go into management in cybersecurity (governance and compliance). If you have logical or technical analysis skills, you can put your energy into coding and programming – again, skills I possessed already and now apply every day in my current job. You just have to figure out where your interests lie, because when you’re passionate about a specific area, it is much easier to learn it.
Finally, don’t be discouraged when you’re new to the industry and don’t know much. It is a process. If you make a small target for yourself every day, you will feel like you’re progressing and before you know it, you will have come far!
In my first 6 months at CGI, I was quite overwhelmed with the amount I had to learn, but my colleagues and managers really guided me throughout my probation period. I was a little afraid to ask questions initially, but my co-workers soon let me know I could ask anyone anything. CGI also has a work buddy program for the first month, which is very helpful.
I really feel fortunate to work for a company that empowers and supports its members with continual training and growth resources, opportunities to gain further professional qualifications, and a culture of ownership, diversity and inclusion.
Interested in exploring a career in cybersecurity or tech with CGI? Head to our careers page to check out the latest opportunities.