Student Spotlight: Breaking Into the Cybersecurity Industry with Tim Musa
“You had me at click-bait.”
Tim Musa was playing a video game on his phone when he came across an advertisement for the University of Miami Cybersecurity Bootcamp. Tim had seen similar advertisements before. Usually, he would just ignore them and wait the allotted time until he was able to close out the pop-up window and return to his game.
But this ad was different.
After years of pursuing government contracts, entrepreneurial work, and real-estate ventures, Tim was ready for a career change – to try something different. He wanted an exciting, in-demand, and fulfilling career. He had seen statistics showing the labor gap in the cybersecurity industry and was impressed by the starting salary for an entry-level information security analyst.
While he didn’t have extensive knowledge of computers or the industry, he had always maintained an above-average interest in technology. Tim knew about game consoles and phones. Growing up he watched Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Voltron; these movies and shows combined a technological future with themes of justice.
Technology and Justice
Tim has always been motivated by justice and empathy. From the moment he witnessed and stopped incidents of bullying on the playground, he knew he wanted to help people. “We’ve all been burned before. We have all stubbed our toes. We know that feeling. I really believe we are forged from out lowest moments, those times of adversity. I want to be able to make a difference.”
Tim knows a career in cybersecurity will help him make a difference and protect the vulnerable. In past business dealings, he has encountered less-than-ethical characters, and he knows first-hand how convincing and sophisticated these criminals can be. With the internet, these nefarious individuals can extend their reach and target anyone.
Not only can hackers or cybercriminals target anyone, but they can also target people anywhere. Tim notes, “We carry our devices with us. Wherever we go. Today, everyone has a smartphone. Older generations, people who have never texted before are now using emojis and have an unlimited data plan. With all these people now connected, we are going to need more security.”
Tim considers the moment he clicked the advertisement and input his email address a “pivotal moment” in his life.
“The program, the experience, it all just felt right. From the moment I spoke with the academic advisors on the phone to the in-person meeting, I had with the career development professionals. We discussed all of my concerns, from finding a job to financial stability. It just felt right. I was motivated. I didn’t even have the computer, the equipment, or the other resources I needed, but I knew I had to be a part of the program.”
Taking the First Step
Despite his enthusiasm, Tim still had his reservations. “I was completely new to the industry. It was a completely new world and a new experience. There is so much -you don’t even know how much you don’t know. I was nervous to walk into a new environment.”
When he attended his first class, Tim had his guard up. He expected he would have to use search engines and context clues to decipher what the professor and other students were talking about. Instead he found a welcoming and approachable classroom. “No one makes you feel bad for reaching out or asking questions. It is a great community of like-minded individuals. The professors are amazing, and know so much.”
Tim was impressed with how flexible and adaptable the program is. “I am a very hands on learner. I don’t just work in theory. I need a place to practice – a place to mess up.” Tim’s professors understood this and provided him with “war games.” Online places where Tim and his classmates could practice his developing cybersecurity skills.
Planning for the Future
When asked how he envisions his future career, Tim discusses hypothetical scenarios. He imagines a not so distant future where you can walk into a bank or a grocery store and not even need to speak to another human, all of the transactions are virtual. “We are almost there, with mobile banking and self-checkout. You can price check on your own. With all these technological advancements, we are going to need and evolve our understanding of security.”
Tim has already successfully completed the trial class. For him, there was no question as to whether he would continue in the program. Tim appreciates the flexibility and multiple doors the program will open for him.
Whether he goes on to work for himself in consulting or working for other businesses, he will have the tools and knowledge he needs to succeed in the industry. Tim looks forward to using his skills to help people and protect the vulnerable while building and securing infrastructure.
Tim Musa is on his way to a fulfilling, in-demand, and exciting career. With 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021, the time to get into the industry is now. Education and certification are the keys.