I do not even know where to begin to be honest, but upon looking at this unfinished story today on August 10, 2022 I felt the need to have this written somewhere just to share this experience in my life. I may finish this days after, but pondering about this is also helping me remember details and organizing my thoughts.
Table of Contents:
- Before Day 1
- Graduation Day
Before Day 1
Having the head space and reason to do this is extremely important when committing to a cyber security boot camp. This is how I found mine: Motivation and Preparation.
Here I am September 5, 2021. This is my last day in the US Army and the feeling is unreal. I have made a plan for this day, but I was hoping it would be a little more sweet or a little more bitter. It was neither, instead what I got was the feeling of uncertainty and loneliness. I handed in my final papers and military ID and left Fort Hood for the final time without so much as a “Good job” from anyone. It was definitely one of the most memorable days of my life as I didn’t know how I would feel after serving almost 6 years and getting out, but I definitely didn’t expect to feel nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely proud to have served my country and all the people I met on the way, which I still value and talk to today. I just recommend the military service member out-processing civil servants be more hospitable as there are a lot of emotions running through service members during this time. That is for another article in the future though.
Pretty somber right? Well this pushed me, among other things, and motivated me to do more as I was making my next steps. This is extremely important for the course because spending 10 hours per day for months until completion is extremely challenging if you lack motivation or passion. Find your reason for motivation and use it to push yourself forward past your limits as Yami says in Black Clover.
I immediately started working on moving to GA with my family where I would take advantage of the VETTEC program the US military offered as a pilot program to get Veterans into critical Information Technology areas for the USA. I previously took an intro to python coding 2 week 40 hour course with a program in Portland, Oregon in the middle of the night due to the time difference during my time in Poland. I finished the course however, something was calling me towards Cyber Security instead. I asked for advice on what to pursue using VETTEC from friends and ultimately went with Fullstack Academy’s cyber security boot camp.
I completed the initial phone interview and spent the next couple of weeks taking some R&R, well at least trying to.
This part was interesting. I knew the boot camp would be from sunup to sundown for a couple of months but it almost feels as though it went by in the blink of an eye. This part actually should be broken in three parts that were the most important during this time: environment, sustainability, and motivation.
I made sure to have an optimal work environment at all times. Keeping distractions to a minimum and making sure all necessary resources were available at all times, to include backup plans. This could include anything from writing material, backup computer, internet, electricity, etc. Anything you think could go wrong will go wrong. Missing a single day would’ve been detrimental, especially if you are new in the area because so much information is unfolded each day.
VETTEC paid for monthly living expenses, so I was lucky in this area. Be sure to calculate your finances for however long you expect to do that boot camp and add 6 months for job hunting. Staying with family at this time is a great option here so long everyone is understanding. Friends is also another option, maybe offer an IOU in return for their hospitality. This course requires at least 10 hours per day of your time for 4 months, this and throw in sleep, it would be extremely hard to balance a full-time job.
Yes, this one is here again. You may think you have the motivation to push past your limits, but wait until the end of the 1st or 2nd month. Refine your reasons and continue to make future plans. Engage with like minded people to continue the conversation and rhythm each day. This is one of the greatest times to work and network with like minded people. Use your cohort to the fullest extent.
February XX, 2022. This day was pretty cool. The feeling of uneasiness starts to set in as now you have to continue working as a cyber security analyst/engineer on your own. Motivation becomes even more important here as now it’ll be completely up to you. Then you look back at everything you have learned and the resources you gained from the experience. Especially the life long relationships you have built with the cohort and just enjoy everyone’s company. You tell yourself “Everything is going to be okay”.
OH MAAAAAAN. Here it is the months of job searching, blogging, networking, studying, exams, certification, hack the boxes, Cybrary, articles, CVEs, technical interviews, interviews, interviews, and more interviews. This is the very difficult part that everyone always talk about. Job searching. I have 3 majors tips for job hunting through my experience to add on to your recommended checklist from Fullstack Academy that I still use to this day: sleep, workout, and work.
7–8 hours minimum and nothing more or less because that is bad. You will not be able to focus without it and you will be a lot less productive. Trust.
Working out clears your mind from all the cyber security bs. Yes, I said bs because like all IT information, it isn’t natural to us and we have to force learn this stuff, through motivation or passion. Clear your mind, move your muscles, get blood flow, and release stress. Workout is the ultimate weapon against all things. Tune it all out and run, pump iron, just let it all go. Or you could also meditate, but my experience says working out is much more fun. You also do not need to go to the gym with a membership, go to a public park or do calisthenics in your own home. Just make sure to do this daily to reset. Working out also makes sure you look decent, which is important for social engineering, for my hackers out there. Make sure to also eat healthy, this will just create good energy for you if you can’t seem to just workout on your own.
Yepp, 9–5 job baby! Work. Applying to jobs, (all resources will be provided as to where to apply), study anything you are lacking on, and always have a mofo goal. Get that cert, study for that cert, get it and apply to more jobs with it now in hand. Make projects, do capture the flag events, webinars, join a local club, join a community with like minded people or create one if there isn’t any. Anything you can think of it is yours to do. This part is entirely up to you. Just make sure to do this consistently until you reach your goals. Be sure to include this in your resume as well through professional affiliations or under projects.
I am actually going to throw this in here. I have listened to many somber stories during this time. Just remember, if you can go to sleep knowing you did everything you could that day without regret, then you will be just fine. No matter how many times you get rejected, you learn and grow from each one. So technically, each rejection makes you a better person for it. You will achieve success through commitment and consistency.
Needless to say doing all of this did end up working out for me as I am now a Cyber Security Engineer working my dream job. Job hunting took me roughly 2–3 months of attacking each day, which for was was still too long, but it was such a short amount of time compared to others. Do not compare your adventure during this time with anyone else, just compare the work you put into it. I am proud of the hard work that was put into just getting here, but I do have to say that there is still so much to learn and do. Not to discourage anyone out there, but just saying Zero Day threats don’t sleep.
One last piece of advice I would say is to make sure you work towards the job you want specifically, not just what you think they want. There are various duties in each job position and sometimes they mix and match duties.
Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to make a request for a future article. If you read this far thanks for reading and hope it helped out in someway by sharing some personal experience with a cyber security boot camp.