Representation of women in the cybersecurity industry has grown over the past years and, while this is positive, there is still room for improvement. Growth and success in this area require that everyone work together to amplify each other, but this is easier said than done.
How can those interested in cybersecurity further develop their careers? What can those who would like to be an ally do? To answer this, women on the Cisco cybersecurity team across Africa share their journey and experiences and a few common themes stood out.
Interestingly, not everyone in cybersecurity started with a technical background. Some of the women currently in cybersecurity started in non-stem-related courses.
Cybersecurity was also seen as a growing industry with a choice of job opportunities and diverse career paths to pursue, including engineering, consultation, leadership, and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Here are 5 Tips for Women Wanting to Develop a Career in Cybersecurity:
1. Invest Time in Training and Certification
There is a huge skill gap currently within the industry. Investing time in certifications and trainings on cybersecurity skills can open doors to new opportunities. Some sought-after certifications in the industry are CCNA, CyberOps, CCNP, CISM, CISSP, CompTia Security+, CHFI, CISA, CISM, CRISC.
Supplementing these with leadership training can be beneficial if you are looking at going down a leadership path in this industry.
2. Take the Time to Find a Mentor and a Sponsor
The two terms can easily be confused at times.
A mentor is someone whose path you would like to follow and guides you based on their learned experiences. A sponsor is someone who has influence, a seat at the table, knows your career vision, and can advocate for you.
3. Align Yourself to a Group Supporting Women in Cybersecurity
There are many groups globally centred around women in cybersecurity. Being a part of groups and forums can give you opportunities around training, networking, exposure, and career progression. Here is a list of groups and forums that are out there.
4. Don’t Forget to Network
Networking can give you exposure and access to opportunities.
It is also something that you can leverage to make you successful at any part of your journey. Managing to build meaningful relationships can serve you well.
Online many accessible videos can give you tips and best practices on networking, here is an interesting Tedx on meaningful networking. Networking is also about exposure, which forums and attending industry events can help with.
5. Think About Writing Thought Leadership
Thought leadership in cybersecurity can build your exposure and set the tone of being an industry expert.
Contributing to knowledge articles and creating posts can foster this. Platforms like LinkedIn provide you with the tools and audience needed.