Career Advice Tuesday – Career and Family Planning
August 4, 2009
Hi Lee & Mike,
I’m currently working in the Information Security field in the public sector. I have a Graduate Certificate and CS Masters focusing on Information Security. Unfortunately, I only have approximately 3 years of experience. In 1.5 – 2 years, I will be starting a family and may need to take as many as 8 years off from traditional employment as a result. I’d like my lifetime career to be in Infosec, so do you have any advice on ways to remain viable in the field while not being able to work in it for awhile? It seems prudent to ask now while I still have time to take action. If I were in any other field, I do not think I would be so concerned but the Infosec field changes more rapidly than most.
Future InfoSec Mom
Dear Future InfoSec Mom:
First of all, let me commend you for your foresight in anticipation of this situation.
It is very difficult to balance the responsibilities of a family and a career at the same time. I know that many other Information Security professionals, both male and female, can empathize with your situation and the choice that you are planning to make.
One thing that you have going for you is that you work in the public sector and they are generally more sensitive to work/life balance issues. Here are a couple of pieces of advice:
1) Work for a company or agency that has a long term commitment to Information Security as a career path for their employees. If you can prove yourself as a valuable asset to the Info Sec program, they should have a vested interest in welcoming you back upon your return.
2) Figure out if you can locate or potentially help develop a role where you could work part time and still be of value during your eight years away. This will require creative thinking and progressive management. If you can introduce a logical use for your skills in a part time capacity while you are current working, you will be the one most likely to benefit for this new position.
3) Focus on developing some of the skills that are centered around policy, governance, awareness, and business risk - as opposed to hard technical skills. The hard technical skills may be very difficult to keep up with if you are not engaged with the technology on a daily basis. It may be easier to keep up with regulations and standards – since these can be acquired by traditional educational means.
Good luck to you in both of your pursuits. We hope this helps.
Lee and Mike