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I want to pursue a career WAYYYY out of the scope of my college major. (Dance to Cybersecurity) What sort of work or opportunities should I look for?

I have reached a point where I'm about to graduate from college and I have found the need to make a very hard and fast pivot out of the dance industry. I've always had a knack for computers and tech tinkering. I recently stumbled across Cybersecurity and got my CompTIA Security+ certification. What else should I do? Apply for experience? Go to grad school? Just a little stuck looking for suggestions.

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Subject: Career question for you

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Karin’s Answer

Hi Ryan,

CompTIA security+ is considered an entry-level certificate. I would recommend to continue building your expertise, e.g. by taking the CCNA or other certificates. I have also attached some links to courses for you to consider. YouTube has whole courses for cybersecurity as well.

But more than that you need to get out there and get experience. Can you find an internship or volunteer? Are there any bootcamps or hackathons you can participate in? Have you got a portfolio yet that shows your skills?

You need to get on LinkedIn and start to make connections and network. Get on Twitter, find your people, share your learning path, your wins and your losses and ask for help when you need it. Get on Github and participate.

You can also use LinkedIn and Indeed to find current job offers, look up what the desired skills and qualifications are. Maybe, contact the hiring manager and have a chat. If something is missing in your skills, go and fill that gap.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

KP

Karin recommends the following next steps:

https://www.newhorizons.com/resources/blog/comptia-security-vs-ccna
https://www.freecodecamp.org/learn/information-security/
https://www.udemy.com/topic/cyber-security/free/
https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications/associate/cyberops-associate.html
https://www.linkedin.com/learning/paths/become-a-cybersecurity-professional?trk=share_android_learning_path_learning&shareId=WdtyrqZVQmuoIApYgjo73Q%3D%3D
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Ryan
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome! Karin P.
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Sahida’s Answer

Well done on securing your CompTIA Security+ certification and choosing to venture into the vibrant world of cybersecurity! This sector is burgeoning with opportunities for adept professionals. Here are some actionable strategies to facilitate your transition into cybersecurity:

Solidify Your Base:

Enhance your fundamental understanding of networking, operating systems, and general IT concepts. This can be achieved through self-learning, online courses, or by earning additional certifications like CompTIA Network+.
Discover Your Niche:

Cybersecurity is a vast field with numerous specializations such as ethical hacking, incident response, threat intelligence, and more. Pinpoint areas that resonate with your interests and career aspirations.
Acquire Hands-On Experience:

Seek internships, entry-level roles, or volunteering opportunities in the cybersecurity domain. Real-world experience is priceless, aiding in the development of practical skills.
Pursue Further Education (If Applicable):

Based on your career objectives, evaluate if pursuing higher education, like a master's degree in cybersecurity or a related discipline, would be advantageous. Certain roles might necessitate advanced degrees, while others may value experience and certifications.
Pursue More Certifications:

Beyond CompTIA Security+, consider obtaining other industry-acknowledged certifications that correspond with your chosen specialization. These could include Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).
Engage with the Cybersecurity Community:

Participate in cybersecurity conferences, webinars, and local gatherings. Interacting with professionals in the field can offer valuable insights, mentorship, and potential job prospects.
Create a Cybersecurity Portfolio:

Develop a portfolio that displays your projects, certifications, and any practical experience. This can serve as a potent tool when job hunting and showcasing your abilities to prospective employers.
Stay Updated and Keep Learning:

Cybersecurity is an ever-changing field. Keep abreast of the latest trends, tools, and threats. Subscribe to industry-specific publications, follow relevant blogs, and engage in online discussions.
Seek Entry-Level Roles:

Search for entry-level jobs in cybersecurity, such as a security analyst, junior penetration tester, or IT support with a security emphasis. Many cybersecurity professionals kickstart their careers in entry-level positions and gradually climb the ladder.
Remember, transitioning from dance to cybersecurity is a unique journey, and your diverse background can contribute valuable skills like creativity, discipline, and resilience to the field. Highlight these transferable skills in your job applications and interviews. Wishing you the best in your career transition!
Thank you comment icon I appreciate this, thank you for the advice. Ryan
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Claudia’s Answer

Hey Ryan,
you have received some great advise on the comments above, and I personally love that you know exactly what you want, this way is easier to focus on the path to take.
I know someone that did the exact same thing you are trying to do, she went from being a dance in NYC to the IT field, except she went into project management instead of cyber-security, and now she is thriving.
She started working at IT company through a temporary IT agency, she learned as much as she could, she ended up being hired by the company and now she is thriving!

I'm certain you can do the same, and will do great!

Claudia recommends the following next steps:

Look at the different certifications and steps suggested above
Study and learn as much about the cyber security field
Look for FT or PT positions within IT companies that require people skills, that way you can get in without lots of technical information - example: Customer service
Once you are in the company you can grow and move easier towards your goals. Some companies may even pay for the courses you are wanting to go after
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Edmond’s Answer

Sahida nailed it - that's a really complete plan I can't really improve upon, though if you want to prioritize, seek internships first or get an entry level job and focus on you foundation.

Adding to the point that others made, cybersecurity is a vast field, try to see which area of cybersecurity is a best fit for your current skills, talents and aptitude. Start with the "Career Options" section of https://niccs.cisa.gov/education-training/cybersecurity-students

Well done on getting your first cert! The next cert I'd recommend regardless of specialty you pick is ICS2's CC "Certified in Cybersecurity" (https://www.isc2.org/certifications/cc). It's free, plus it would pave the way for you to get your "CISSP Associate" and ultimately CISSP.

Find the local chapters of isc2.org, issa.org, owasp.org and attend their in-person meetings and conferences when possible. They provide the best networking opportunities in the field. We improve our skills by immersing ourselves in a subject and cybersecurity is no exception so make sure you're on Linkedin, Twitter (X). I get inspired and learn through podcasts - find your favorites.

I believe your background in art will make you a much more effective cybersecurity professional compared to those who are pure techies. Many of the first generation of pros were art majors!

Good luck!
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Shawn’s Answer

Just like me, you too can have a fulfilling career that's not directly related to your degrees. I found my calling in technology, a field I'm deeply passionate about, and it's given me the joy of working with people.

For you, I recommend finding that niche in cyber security that truly captivates you. Once you've identified it, seek out individuals on LinkedIn or local businesses who can provide mentorship or possibly an internship, whether paid or unpaid. These hands-on experiences will be invaluable in guiding you to the most intriguing aspect of Cyber Security for you to delve into.

You're off to a great start with your certification. Now, the key is to apply what you've learned to keep your skills sharp and up-to-date in the ever-evolving world of Cyber Security. So go ahead, and make the most of your training in this exciting field!

Shawn recommends the following next steps:

Continue Certification Path
Find a Mentor (LinkedIn / Local Companies)
Identify a Speciality
Thank you comment icon Your advice was so helpful! Ryan
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Mohamadou’s Answer

Kudos on nearing your graduation and acquiring your CompTIA Security+ certification! It's exciting to know that you're contemplating a future in cybersecurity. Here are a few enhancement strategies:

1. Acquire hands-on experience: Seek internships, part-time positions, or even volunteer work that offers you hands-on exposure in the cybersecurity realm. This could be at a tech firm, a non-profit entity, or even a government department. The tech sector highly appreciates practical experience.

2. Networking: Engage in industry seminars, become a member of professional bodies, and take part in cyber security-related online discussions. Networking can pave the way for job prospects and provide learning opportunities from field experts.

3. Ongoing Learning: The tech arena, particularly cybersecurity, is continuously evolving. Keep abreast with the most recent trends and technologies. You might think about obtaining additional certifications, like Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).

4. Postgraduate Studies: If you're keen on a more comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity, you might think about pursuing postgraduate studies. A master's degree in cybersecurity could equip you with advanced insights and potentially unlock more job prospects.

5. Develop a Portfolio: Exhibit your abilities and understanding by creating a portfolio of your work. This could incorporate projects you've been part of or research you've conducted. A robust portfolio can effectively showcase your skills to prospective employers.

Bear in mind that there's no single "correct" route in tech. Explore your alternatives, discover what you love, and shape your career around that. Best of luck!
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James Constantine’s Answer

Subject: Pivoting from Dance to Cybersecurity: A Path Forward

Dear Ryan,

Transitioning from a dance major to a cybersecurity career might seem like a leap, but with the right plan and determination, it's entirely possible. Here's a practical guide to help you navigate this career change:

1. Get Hands-On Experience: To reinforce your cybersecurity knowledge and skills, seek practical experience. Internships, entry-level jobs, or even volunteering in the field can offer invaluable insights. This direct experience not only boosts your understanding but also enhances your appeal to employers.

2. Pursue Further Education: Although your dance degree may not directly relate to cybersecurity, additional education in this area can be advantageous. Consider a master's degree or cybersecurity certifications to strengthen your expertise and credibility. Graduate school can offer specialized knowledge and networking opportunities that can ease your entry into the industry.

3. Cultivate a Robust Network: Networking is vital in all industries, including cybersecurity. Participate in industry events, join professional associations, and connect with cybersecurity professionals. A robust network can lead to job openings, mentorship opportunities, and valuable insights.

4. Highlight Your Transferable Skills: Your dance background has likely honed transferable skills like discipline, creativity, teamwork, and adaptability. Emphasize these skills on your resume and during interviews to show their relevance to cybersecurity roles.

5. Find Your Niche: Cybersecurity is a vast field with numerous specializations, such as ethical hacking, digital forensics, risk management, etc. Identify your area of interest and focus on honing expertise in that niche. Specialization can distinguish you as a candidate and enhance your job prospects.

6. Keep Up with Industry Developments: Cybersecurity is a fast-paced field with ever-emerging threats and technologies. Stay informed about the latest trends, tools, and best practices by reading industry blogs, attending webinars, and earning relevant certifications.

7. Find a Mentor: Seek out a mentor in the cybersecurity industry. Their guidance, advice, and support can be invaluable as you navigate your career transition. Their insights can help you make informed decisions and advance on your chosen path.

By adhering to these steps and remaining dedicated to your goal of moving from dance to cybersecurity, you can successfully build a fulfilling career in this dynamic, in-demand field.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Consulted:

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): As the nation’s risk advisor, CISA collaborates with partners to defend against current threats and build more secure, resilient infrastructure for the future. Their resources offer valuable insights into the cybersecurity landscape.

CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association): CompTIA provides various IT certifications, including Security+, affirming the skills of cybersecurity professionals. Their website provides information on certification pathways and industry trends.

(ISC)² (International Information System Security Certification Consortium): (ISC)² is an international nonprofit membership association that inspires a safe and secure cyber world through certifications like CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). Their resources offer industry insights and best practices for cybersecurity professionals.

These sources were crucial in providing accurate information on cybersecurity career paths, educational opportunities, industry trends, and certification options for individuals transitioning into the field from diverse backgrounds, such as dance majors.

Stay blessed,
James Constantine.
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Cherelle’s Answer

Hey Ryan!

Check out Cybrary! It’s a great way to learn cybersecurity from home and some of their courses are free! It’s worth paying for once you are prepared to compete the full learning path of your choosing!

You could also pursue a degree in cybersecurity at a university of your choosing or study to get certified in cybersecurity where you’d have to sit for an exam and pass!

Either way, you’ve got this!!

Hope this helps!
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James’s Answer

I would first decide what specialization interested me. Do you like network security, cloud security, incident response, red team/blue team?

You'll also need strong technical skills. Learning Linux, Windows Server, basic scripting in a language like Python.

Find local groups that do hackathons or events like capture-the-flag competitions.
You may also want to just do a personal projects or contribute to open-source security initiatives.

Of course networking and resume building are always going to be part of this, but I'd focus on doing things in your wheelhouse and finding your local CISSP folks to network with.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Ryan
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