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All roads (can) lead to a career in cyber

5 Min Read

It’s no secret that cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field, with new threats emerging daily. It’s not just the tech industry that is affected, but every sector and business, big or small, across the world. Cybersecurity is becoming one of the most attractive and exciting industries to work in. It’s a career path that offers endless opportunities, with the potential to make a significant difference in businesses, communities and individuals’ lives. But what does a career in cybersecurity look like?

Choosing a cybersecurity field

According to Emily Pendlebury, a graduate of La Trobe University’s Cybersecurity undergraduate degree, asking that question is akin to asking what the day-to-day activities of a lawyer are. ‘There are so many different genres of law like family law, criminal law, corporate law, the list goes on. So, like law, cybersecurity is very hard to boil down into three sentences!’

Emily didn’t always picture herself in cybersecurity. Due to her interest in helping others and her personable nature, she had initially pursued a career in nursing/midwifery, but after a year and a half of study, she realised that the long hours and shift work weren’t for her. It was during her time as a sports coach at a local high school that she had a chance conversation with a mother who suggested she consider a career in cybersecurity. The idea of helping people in a different way sparked Emily’s interest, and after doing her research, she chose a three-year degree at La Trobe for its comprehensive curriculum and the added bonus of receiving a scholarship.

Emily’s cybersecurity degree at La Trobe covered a wide range of topics, including risk management, security operations, hacking and digital forensics. ‘We got to touch on a lot of different domains in cyber, which is something that I really enjoyed about the course,’ Emily said. After graduating from La Trobe, Emily joined CyberCX, a company that provides end-to-end cybersecurity services to businesses of all sizes, helping them to strengthen their current posture and stand up against today’s threats.

‘Because the degree covered so much, and I loved everything about cyber, I didn’t know where I wanted to land after my course, so I thought a graduate program would be good – you get to rotate through different roles within a company,’ Emily said. After rotating through technical, consulting and sales roles, she ultimately decided she was happiest consulting.

A day in the life of a cybersecurity consultant

As a cybersecurity consultant , Emily is now helping Australian organisations protect themselves from cyber threats. Emily’s work with clients normally lasts 6 to 8 weeks and is divided into three phases. The first phase is the discovery and analysis phase, during which Emily and her team gather documentation, interview employees and conduct a gap analysis. In the second phase, they write up a report on their findings and present it to the client. The final phase involves working with the client to create a road map to address any gaps in their cybersecurity system. The best part of the job? For Emily, it’s when clients express their satisfaction with the work she and her team have done and that they have made a difference.

Discussing future directions for cybersecurity, Emily said she thinks the cybersecurity industry will continue to evolve with an increasing focus on cloud security and regulation. Emily points out that there is a gap in the cybersecurity workforce, with a shortage of experienced professionals, and believes that microcredentials, such as the cybersecurity short courses offered at La Trobe University, can help bridge that gap offered at La Trobe University, can help bridge that gap.

However, it’s not just technical skills that are needed in cybersecurity. Emily said there is a real hunger in the industry for people with the ability to communicate effectively with a range of stakeholders. ‘There’s a lot of technical people, but not a lot of people that can communicate their findings,’ Emily said. An ability to ‘translate’ complicated concepts and jargon into plain English, bolstered by effective problem-solving and critical thinking skills, could be just the right mix of soft skills to ensure a successful cyber career when paired with the right qualifications.

When to pursue a career in cybersecurity

For those considering a career in cybersecurity, regardless of their career background, Emily said she would encourage them to ‘just do it’. She said that cybersecurity is a field that is both exciting and rewarding, with plenty of opportunities to help people, solve problems and develop an understanding of technology. ‘Your past career shouldn’t be a barrier; if you’re interested, you’re interested, and I don’t think companies seem to mind [when people come from different career backgrounds]. I think it’s because we reflect the community that we serve. You need to able to relate to people, that’s the main thing,’ Emily said.

Emily also wanted to dispel the common misconception that a career in cybersecurity involves only coding, as she herself is in a people-facing role and is not stuck behind a computer screen all day, nor does she code. ‘You’re helping people, sharing your knowledge to make them more secure online. If you enjoy talking to people, it could be for you,’ Emily said.

The cybersecurity industry is a challenging, dynamic and rewarding field that offers endless opportunities for growth and advancement. It’s a field that requires individuals to be innovative, creative and constantly learning, and it provides a sense of purpose and impact. If you’re looking for a career that offers the potential for personal and professional growth, the cybersecurity industry just might be the place for you. And for those like Emily, who are looking for a career change, La Trobe’s cybersecurity short courses may be the perfect starting point to shift gears and make a difference in the cyber world.

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