Career Advice Tueday – “Biting Off More Than I Can Chew”

August 14, 2012

Dear Infosecleaders:

I have been working in the IT industry for many years and have been dabbling in the Information Security realm for about 5 years now, but am having a hard time getting the experience I would like

I was recently asked by a friend to help with a side job which required a Security Assessment to be performed.    I have never had to perform a Security Assessment so I am a little hesitant making the jump because if I accept the assignment, I want to do it correctly. 

I’m not one of those guys that will take the job, if I do not believe I can perform it correctly.  I do not want to be put in a position where I do a crappy job due to the fact that I do not know what I am doing.

How do I get the experience I would like,  so I can take “jobs” like this one with confidence?  I have a good reputation and I want to keep it that way.

Any advice you could give, I would be grateful.

Sincerely,

“Biting Off More Than I Can Chew”

 

Dear “Big Mouth”:

I agree with your sentiments.  You only have one reputation and anything that you do that detracts from your reputation will only stay with you through the course of your career.   In the end, your work is a reflection of you, and it eventually will define you and become your “brand”.

I give you a good deal of credit for having the integrity to know that this position maybe beyond your scope of knowledge and “more than you can chew” at this point in your career.

I can offer you a couple of different options –

1) I would ask your friend if you would be open to “sub contracting” the assignment to someone that you trust.   If they say that is OK – what you could do is to ask around your network or on Twitter – if anyone is interested in a consulting assignment – with the caveat that if they take the job – that they will let you shadow them on the assignment and teach you.    This could be the best way to get practical experience – in essence you can learn – and someone else would get the revenue from the assignment.  This would be viewed as quite an even trade!

2) Another option would be to get formalized hands on training.   Now, I do realize that if you did take training, you would not be ready for this current assignment – however, with some foresight this could possibly give you the confidence to know that you would do a good job the next time that you get the opportunity to perform this type of work.

The key to this is to get “hands-on” training  – not just some certification – that will give you the confidence that you will do the job correctly.  Understand that you are doing for yourself, not someone else evaluating the value of the certification and utilizing that to judge your competency.     In this case, you need to overcome your fear of failure – practical experience, even in a training or lab environment should enable you to simulate a real world “assessment”.  It may not be live – but it is the next best thing.

With the right training, you should be able to do a “good job” on  future assessments,  and when you do, you can be sure that you will get additional opportunities to practice your craft.

Hope this helps,

Lee Kushner

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Behavior, Career Advice Tuesday, Career Investments, Networking, Planning, Skills, Uncategorized 

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