Hacked Opinions: Veterans who transitioned into InfoSec

Veterans discuss moving from the military to their current InfoSec careers

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How did you transition from your military career to your current role in InfoSec? Was it a natural fit, or did you have to make adjustments?

Travis Greene, Identity Solutions Strategist at NetIQ (TG): I imagine my path was similar to many others. I was fortunate to find an employer willing to give me an opportunity, even when my experience and skill set was not an obvious fit.

While I had a computer science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy, I was six-years removed from it and much of the military tech I had been using wasn’t relevant to the civilian market.

There were definitely adjustments to be made, but perhaps not the ones we stereo typically think of. When I first transitioned, I was amazed at how little work actually gets done at “work”. I had to adjust to the much slower cadence of task accomplishment that is expected in the civilian workplace, where relationship building is far more important than it is in the military.
What advice would you give to service members who are interested in InfoSec?

TG: The interesting thing is that there is a lack of InfoSec talent in the business world.

ISACA’s global survey, The State of Cybersecurity: Implications for 2015, noted that,

“Enterprises are having a difficult time hiring skilled people, as it takes 53% of organizations between 3 and 6 months to fill a position and 10% cannot fill them at all.”

The military is actually leading in many InfoSec areas, making those with experience there highly marketable. But even without direct experience in InfoSec, skills such as attention to detail, time management and prioritization, and tenacity are needed in this space. Learn as much as you can before transitioning by reading industry web sites, and understand the role that regulations play in prioritizing the security budget.

Are there any particular strengths that you feel veterans bring to the InfoSec market?

TG: Some may assume that those with past military experience are too rigid, looking to follow process to the letter without the flexibility to adjust.

Yet my experience is that the biggest benefit I brought to that first employer was an ability to adapt, learn quickly and have the tenacity to accomplish the “mission”. That meant adjustments and results came quickly, even though it took some investment on the part of my managers to teach me the business.

Anything else you would like to add?

TG: For employers, there is a distinct advantage to hiring straight out of the military, even when skills and experience aren’t a perfect match for what you’re looking for – veterans are eager to learn, acquire skills rapidly and will fit your approach with minimal coaching.

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