Reginald Jones always wanted to work in cybersecurity, but he wasn’t sure where to start.
“I looked at bachelor’s degrees and certifications,” he said. “But I really wanted something that was going to give me that hands-on experience.”
Then, COVID-19 hit. For Reginald, the pandemic was a game changer, but not in the way you might expect. With virtual learning an imperative, he could manage to complete The Georgia Tech Cyber and Network Security Boot Camp completely online, balancing the time commitment along the way.
With a program lined up, Reginald set his next goal: get a job before the boot camp ended. If that was an ambitious idea, Reginald was just as ambitious. He landed a job as a Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst one month before the boot camp ended. Here’s how he accomplished that goal — and then some.
Picturing the end goal (from the very start)
First thing’s first: Reginald was thinking ahead from day one.
“Every skill that I learned and every different assignment that we did added another skill I could put on my resume,” Reginald said. “I knew that everything we learned would be an asset when I was applying for jobs. It gave me more things to talk about when I went to the interview.”
He also took advantage of using LinkedIn Premium, a tool that made him more visible on the popular job board. “Whenever I saw a job posting available, I would immediately go and reach out to the recruiter,” he said.
When Reginald reached out to the director of a company with a security operations center (SOC) opening, the director passed him on to the recruiter.
“It was funny because the recruiter was already about to reach out to me anyway, but it kind of gave me a little push so I could get that second interview with the director,” he said.
Winning them over
At Reginald’s first interview with the recruiter, he told his story and got an encouraging response.
“He actually said, ‘if I could hire you myself I would, but we’ve got to put you on to the next stage,’” Reginald said.
He expected the next interview to be just with the director, but when he arrived, there were five other people there as well. Despite his surprise, Reginald quickly won them over.
“I’m really big about answering a lot of the interviewer’s questions within my story,” he said. “The first one they ask you is tell me about yourself. Once I gave them my story, he was like, ‘you really answered all the questions that I was going to ask you.’”
With the interview over, the only thing to do now was wait. Luckily, he didn’t have to wait long. A week after the second interview, Reginald received an offer.
Jumping into a new role
Reginald now works as an SOC analyst. His job is to respond to security incidents like malicious malware and suspicious emails. After investigating an incident, he’ll either resolve it or send it to a higher-up analyst.
“It’s very exciting, because I’m always learning something new,” he said. “Of course, the pay is good as well, and it’s just everything that I thought it was. Everything I learned at the boot camp is relevant to my day-to-day work, and it’s great knowing nothing’s gone to waste.”
Reginald acknowledges that it takes a team. His fellow employees and managers are interested in his boot camp story and encourage him to keep learning and growing.
“On my first day here, my director called me that morning and told me that I actually beat out people with bachelor’s degrees,” he said. “I don’t have a bachelor’s or a master’s or any type of certification other than the boot camp certificate [of completion] — which is a testament to everything it’s done for me.”
Facing the future — and the goals that come with it
Happily settled in his new job, Reginald now has another goal: become a senior SOC analyst. His manager and team are already helping him get there.
In the meantime, he has some advice for prospective learners. “I got every single cent of what I paid for the boot camp and more, so I just want people to know that it’s really worth it, no matter where you end up.”
And if anyone wants a tip on how to get a job before boot camp ends, he has an answer for that, too.
“Start working with the career services team early. Go ahead and spruce up your LinkedIn and resume, and scan what jobs are available on day one. All of these things played a big part in me getting a job before the boot camp ended.”
The perfect opportunity to switch your career could be right around the corner (or on your computer). Learn more about Georgia Tech Boot Camps in coding, cybersecurity, UX/UI, data analytics, and digital marketing today.