Starting in the cyber industry without a tech background
If anyone had told me even a year ago that my first job would be in cybersecurity, I would have told them they are sorely mistaken. An ex-English literature and Spanish student, having studied the likes of Shakespeare, Toni Morrison and Charlotte Brontë venturing into a world of ransomware, phishing and data security? I barely knew how to connect my laptop to the telly, let alone understand the intricacies behind the cybersecurity of a corporate network. And yet, here we are.
Starting any new job is always going to be scary, but pair that with a lack of skills and industry knowledge and it won’t take long to feel like a fish out of water. Now, 6 months have gone by and I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. As with many people in cyber (at least, how I’ve recently learned), I somewhat fell into this industry by chance. I wasn’t specifically looking in this area when the opportunity presented itself and, finding the position interesting, I decided to apply. Luckily for me, Eskenzi took a chance on me and it’s the best thing I could have hoped for. Ever since, I have been trying my best to learn and develop the necessary skills to keep up with the fast-paced environment of PR.
The general consensus is that this field is highly technical, however I would argue that this perception isn’t quite right. Granted, it helps to have a broad understanding of technology, cybersecurity, data, etc. but you don’t need to be an expert from the get-go. I’d spent my years at university writing essays, blogs, analysing Pride and Prejudice and conjugating Spanish verbs… how was this going to help me now? Looking back, my degree actually afforded me with some great transferable skills that benefit me in the workplace today. To state the obvious, I enjoy writing and being creative and in PR, these are useful skills to have. Studying literature helped me learn how to create and structure research into content and communicate ideas clearly, which makes writing articles and blogs a lot easier. People also forget that cybersecurity doesn’t always focus on the technology aspect of things. PR, marketing, journalism; they’re all crucial to keeping the industry alive by driving the narrative, selling the products and giving vendors and spokespeople a platform to stand on.
Joining this field has taught me that your University degree doesn’t always have to 100% align with the job you may or may not want to get into in the future. It’s more about the skills you pick up along the way. Studying English literature and Spanish I, of course, learnt how to analyse, write and communicate in two languages, but it also allowed me to develop my organisation skills, my independence and my time management. You’re mainly left to your own devices at university. You no longer have a teacher bellowing loud reminders at you about the deadline of your next essay. If you forget, you face the consequences – a life lesson some people have to learn the hard way. In the same way, in the PR industry we are constantly working to meet tight deadlines and having to manage our time between several projects. Working in cybersecurity PR, especially, multi-tasking and quick thinking is a must, as the fast paced environment of cyber threats doesn’t slow down for anyone.
More importantly, I have learned that the cyber community is filled with a treasure trove of supportive and kind people, who will always be quick to lend you a helping hand when needed. I admit, jumping from a literature based background into the field of technology was a shock at first, but research and repetition made it easier. My biggest advice would be to ask questions when you are unsure of something – most people found themselves in the same position when they first started and know what it’s like to feel a little out of place.