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Information security and forensics analyst: How I got my job

Considering a career in information security? Ramel, an analyst at CI Security, shares advice to build experience and stand out to potential employers, from pursuing home labs to earning a degree in the field.

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Video transcript

At first, I was just telling myself I wanted to do IT, right? So I thought that was done, I knew what I wanted to do. But then later on, I found out that IT is such a broad field itself. You really have to dial it into what in IT do you want to do? There's security, there's coding, there's vulnerability, web application teams and stuff like that. I came across security and I really fell in love with it. I started off as an intern here at CI Security for about four or five months, and then, eventually, we got invested in and then all of a sudden we were emerging massively and I was like, oh, whoa. They were looking for security analysts and at the time I had just graduated with my AAS degree. I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me to really build my experience and add something to my resume, so I was like why not. I love Bremerton, I love the company, I love the people around it, the culture, and I thought it was an excellent opportunity so I took it and that's where I'm at now. Now that we're emerging so fast, we had to bring on a whole marketing team and a sales team and then we had to build an office in Seattle. Seattle is a great place to be if you're heading towards the security field, but over the past few years it's been rapidly expanding. The reasons for that is because we have Amazon and Microsoft and Boeing right in our back yard. So they're always, constantly looking for people that are fresh out of school and they know their security stuff and I truly think that this is gonna be the next Silicon Valley. I know a lot of people say that education isn't really important for the field and stuff like that, but on the flip side of things, while it might not be too important for your technical skills, it still helps you build those soft skills. So things like communicating with other people, presenting, working in groups, communicating with a diversity of people, I think that's extremely important in being a security analyst or forensics analyst because you're constantly researching things, you're constantly projecting things to either your coworkers or clients, you're doing presentations, reports of course. So building those soft skills are extremely important and without education that's extremely hard to build. In my program, the kinds of things that you study are penetration testing, so using tools to target other machines, Linux which is another operating system that's not really as known as Windows right now, but it's emerging in the field. It's not just education, you really need the hands-on experience, so things like building your home labs at home and just messing around. Building retro machines and just, oh, you know, I read this cool thing in an article and I'm going to go home and test to see exactly what it does. Just things like that, just doing things in your own time. Going into an interview or something, if you talk about a home lab or things that you experiment on your off time. Employers, I noticed they really value that because it shows that you're not too dependent on school, even though it is important. It shows a passion that you have for the field. Employers really like that stuff and if you can manifest it in a way where you create reports and can hand it to your employer and be like hey, look, this is what I did. I think employers really, really value that. In the cyber security field, things are rapidly changing so fast. I mean, you have to be updated everyday. Just read the news in the morning while you're having a cup of coffee. I think that's really a good way to stay up to date and it's a good way to have conversations with other security professionals in the area, especially if you're new in the field. Just ask other people, hey, what would you do about this if this came in your network or something like that and just being passionate about it. I see myself, in 10 years, still with this company I think. I really like where we're headed, here at CI Security. Since we're gradually getting out of that start up phase, we can still work on projects that help establish our company and I think that's the real value that we have here. It's going to help me later on, down my career path. On top of that, I'm probably gonna be teaching forensics soon, at Highline College. Nowadays it's extremely valuable to have professors that work in the field, that also teach it, so they've already reached out to me and I think I may undergo next year sometime so I'm extremely excited for that. So that's just the beginning, I would say in 10 years I would probably be teaching Bachelor classes or maybe even at a university.