What it’s really like to change career into cybersecurity

With high demand for cybersecurity professionals, the sector can be a tempting prospect to work in – but what’s it really like to change careers into cybersecurity? 

One person who knows is Devina Patel, Associate Consultant at Stratia Cyber. 

She took the plunge and changed careers from her previous customer service job via an intensive cybersecurity course – and hopes she can offer “new insights”, coming from a different background.

Devina ‘fell into’ her job after university, and had never fully clicked with it.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – it wasn’t really for me, but I liked the company and the people so I stuck around,” she said, “But before I knew it, years had gone by and I was the customer service team lead.”

Tempted by technology

While still working for the healthcare company, Devina had an inkling that she might want to move into a more tech-related field. 

She had worked closely with a development team on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases, and found she enjoyed it.

“I was doing a lot of stuff in a sandbox environment,” she explained “I found it really interesting. I thought: ‘Something like this could be for me.’”

Like many others, Devina was made redundant during the pandemic, and started hunting around for customer service jobs, because it was all she knew. 

Devina kept applying for roles, but eventually just thought, “Actually, I don’t want to do this.”

She started looking into jobs in software development and coding. She said, “The more I dug around, the more I started thinking, “Cybersecurity is quite interesting!”

Fast-paced learning

Devina spoke to two people she knew in the industry, and researched the area before deciding to opt for a 16-week intensive course with CAPSLOCK

The course focuses on hands-on skills, and is designed to help people move straight into a job.

Devina considered doing an undergraduate degree, but opted for the 16-week option, “Why wait three years?”.

She started her studies in January 2022, finished in May and then applied for a role at Stratia Cyber. 

“It is an intensive course,” she said. “So it was quite fast-paced! But there was a lot of support, and the learning is structured effectively.” 

Devina explained that the course offered out-of-hours support, mentoring and direct access to tutors, and gave her an overview of everything from penetration testing to consultancy. 

Devina wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but half-way through, decided consultancy was a good way to get a chance to try a multitude of specialisms.

A role model can make all the difference

One takeaway for Devina was the obvious lack of diversity amongst course participants. Despite plenty of discussion on the topic within the industry, still the majority of people pursuing careers in cyber security falls into the white male category.

Devina said, “People are receptive to doing things when they can picture themselves doing it too. If the face of the industry stays the same, it’s unlikely to attract a more diverse group of people. Seeing more people like me helps demonstrate to others that cyber security is for everyone.”

‘Like my old job but more techie’

Working as a consultant is very different from working in customer service, Devina continued – but it’s a positive change. 

“In customer service, you’d often get an earful,” she said. “In cybersecurity, you have to deal with people as well, but nine out of ten times they actually want your help. It’s like my old job, mixed with a bit of the techie stuff I like as well.”

Devina said that she is “constantly learning” in her new job – everything from password management, and that her new job is teaching her the “nitty gritty” about actual solutions in cybersecurity. 

She recently completed the Cyber Essentials course and is now qualified to perform Cyber Essentials assessments – adding more variety to her role. 

Working for Stratia Cyber has offered her “constant learning”, Devina explained. “It’s been really good so far – although I took a while to adjust to working from home. My last position was office-based, and I also worked in a nursery for a while which was people, people, people.” 

Devina recognises the whole team for helping her to settle in, highlighting the importance of regular communication and dialogue as part of a well-established remote working culture.  

Get in touch to find out more about careers with Stratia Cyber.