Story from Shay – How she got in the cyber industry

My name is Shaylah and I’m a recent graduate working for Cyber Security Canada as a Cybersecurity Practitioner. I have an undergraduate degree in a different field and a diploma in cybersecurity with several industry certifications.  

Cybersecurity is a vital field because our lives increasingly revolve around technology. Even if you threw away all of your personal devices today, there would still be sensitive information about you online that needs to be safeguarded.  

My Path into Cybersecurity 

I grew up on the tail-end of dial-up internet, and spent most of my time playing offline games my uncle had installed for me on an old tower PC. My parents worked a lot, so if something went wrong, I had to learn to fix it myself.  

Despite my early interest in technology, I did not yet develop an interest in cybersecurity. In fact, I went to university and completed a bachelor’s of science in kinesiology. I was planning for medical school, and during the pandemic, I developed an interest in public health and pharmacology. However, my mental health at the time was not stable enough to move cities for a graduate program. Instead, I applied to a pharmacy assistant program at a local college so I could at least start working in a related field. 

Perhaps it was because my high school was too small to offer any substantial computer related courses, but I was shocked when the college recruiter suggested I should instead sign up for their new cybersecurity program. She had asked me the manufacturer for my computer for the student tech support, and I told her I built it myself. Somehow, I had never considered my interest and knowledge of computers to be a transferable skill.   

I later emailed that recruiter and followed her suggestion. I became a Student Ambassador for the college where I helped plan events and helped students, passed my CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications, secured my own internship with Cyber Security Canada, and graduated with perfect attendance and a 4.0 GPA. After that, I was offered full-time employment with my internship placement, and soon I will be writing the CompTIA Security+ exam.  

If I could go back in time and tell myself to take a Computer Science degree instead, maybe I would. But I don’t regret it. I think it’s important to remember that a path doesn’t need to be straight, and sometimes it’s better if it isn’t. I’m sure that even if I had done that, I would’ve faced a different set of obstacles. I still haven’t found my niche in this field yet, but I am confident that with experience I will develop one.  

The Future of Cybersecurity 

Today, cybersecurity in Canada is in demand and well paid1. When you work in cybersecurity, you can work in any sector. Any business that uses the internet needs cybersecurity, and that includes everything from a coffee shop to the government. Additionally, there are a wide range of specializations to choose from so its easy to follow a specific interest. There are a lot of great resources online that detail the career pathways required for specific job titles.  

In the future, I believe the cybersecurity field will grow rapidly. Recently, it has been commonplace to see headlines of high-profile cyber attacks, especially in the last two years. Threat actors are already using AI to some degree, and they are using it to lower the barrier for cyber criminals and enhance existing tactics2. With cyber threats increasing in seemingly every corner, I predict that not only will there be plenty of well-paying jobs, but now is also the best time to enter the world of cybersecurity.