Career Advice Tuesday – Graduation Day

April 26, 2010

Mike & Lee,

I have recently completed my Master in Computer Security from [a prestigious university]. My question is why there are few opportunities for security graduates. In my five month search I have found two Information Security jobs, both of which have been taken by someone with experience in Information Security. Now I need your help in finding a job for myself.

What should I do in these circumstances where finding a job is really difficult and how should I get experience if no one is giving it to me?

Secondly, could you please give an idea of the companies where the graduate vacancies are available?

I hope you will reply quickly.

Recent Graduate

Dear RG,

This may come out as a bit harsh – we assure you, it’s not meant to be. You’ve graduated from a prestigious MSc program. And, in five months, you’ve found only two posted jobs in security? Really?

Here’s the problem with that. In 10 minutes on, I was able to find 5-10 jobs within 50 miles of your location that you might be qualified for.

That said, I can understand the difficulty that recent graduates face: it’s often hard to get experience when you don’t have any, especially in information security. It’s why a large number of infosec pros start out in a different part of the technology industry — most of the best have spent at least some time as a programmer, QA analyst/tester, system/network administrator or DBA. That kind of experience also gives you an extremely solid background in other parts of the IT industry and a deep understanding of the issues that end up causing security problems in the long run.

Another key thing that you can do is internships. Find the local security group in your area and go to it. (ISSA is always a good one, but there are others – if you need pointers, email me or ask on Twitter). When you get to the meeting, mention that you’re a recent graduate and are looking to spend a couple of months as an intern.

Most security companies (especially small, under-resourced ones) are always looking for qualified help. And if you come at the right price (because you’re getting good experience), you’ll be amazed at how many people will take you on. I (Mike) have hired a number of interns over the years, some of whom have gone on to become full-time staff for me, and most others who have gone on to other awesome infosec jobs.

In short, since you’ve graduated, it’s time to take on the responsibility for your own job hunt. Get out there and offer your services or take another IT job that allows you to use your skills while you build a network in infosec.

If you need more assistance, please feel free to ask.

Mike & Lee

Posted by mmurray | Filed Under Career Advice Tuesday 


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