Thursday, February 9, 2017

WGU Industry Insider: Robert Keifer on Information Security

Two thousand sixteen included a slew of big hacks that caught the headlines creating a new level of hype around cyber security.  As an insider, I can tell you that we do not need any more hype… we need people who can and want to make a difference in Information Security. No one cares about identity theft until it happens to him or her. After the Target hack, shock waves could be felt by executives across the country as even their personal data was on the line. Overnight corporations began stealing people from the IT department to form security teams, or so legend would have it…

However, Information Security has been around before the Internet was even a twinkle in Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s eyes and not just in counter-espionage or physical security. Yet what I am seeing today can, at times, feel like the “Wild West.” In most cases, leaders in this industry have NOT been listened to and sadly vindicated. In some areas of IT security, 20-year-old standards and protocols are still applied for the sake of expediency and availability. In the past, engineers did not have to worry about outside threats as most hackers focused on financial institutions and governments but now even your refrigerator can contain personal data.

Information Security is at a unique crossroads in the technology world where it requires the same functionality of IT, yet it incorporates a deeper level of trust into the equation. Success in information security is not typically newsworthy. Success is keeping a company off the front page by preventing hacks and security breaches.

So, what to do? How do you break in to a career in Information Security? As someone who works with one of the strongest teams in the industry, let me tell you what has true staying power.

Belief: Especially in yourself, your substantive abilities, and your attitude for constant education and re-education. You will find quickly that this industry is not the type you can simply side step your way through.

Finesse: If you view the coding lab as a black hole or dungeon but still have the skills of a coder, then you might be a fit for this industry. Individuals in Information Security not only have to be constantly improving their skills and knowledge, but also must advocate for their solutions and initiatives - which means diplomatically interacting with the correct people and overcoming resistance. Security does not mean efficiency for larger organizations. You will have to be comfortable convincing people of things and “selling” them on the idea… especially since no organization is ever 100% secure.

Versatility: Since only about half of the millions of security jobs are being filled currently, that means that you’ll get to wear a lot of hats (and no, that’s not a reference to black, white, or gray hat hacking…XD). You can serve as the IT person for the IT department- the person they call on when they do not know how something works and at the same time you might be putting on your lawyer cap and aiding on the regulatory side- making sure companies are compliant with applicable laws related to Information Security protocols and procedures.

There is great potential to make a large impact in Information Security, reaching far outside the walls the of the data center. You can make a difference in a person’s life - whether they will be able to retire (i.e. personal banking information secure), get that loan (i.e. bad credit due to identity theft), or even keep the food in their smart refrigerator safe. If you are the type that is ready to take on a life-long commitment to growth and development, we welcome you with open arms.

About the Author
Robert Keifer is a Talent Acquisition Specialist for Tevora, the nation’s premier management consulting firm specializing in information assurance, governance and compliance services and solutions. Tevora works with some of the world’s leading companies, institutions and governments to ensure the safety of their information and their compliance with applicable regulations.  Robert has increased the company size by 100% since joining Tevora in February 2015. In addition to recruiting, Robert has also created and implemented several successful employee development programs including the Tevora Consultant Development Program that incubates up-and-coming technology professionals into seasoned Information Security Consultants.

Tevora is currently hiring so if you think you have what it takes, take a look at their current openings. To learn more about working for Tevora, read WGU Alum Josh Heimendinger’s inspirational story!

For career resources and personalized career coaching, visit the WGU Career & Professional Development Center.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

6 Ways to Gain Experience

A common question from students and graduates transitioning to a new career is how to obtain to a new position in their field when the opportunities they are finding often require 2-3 years of experience. This can be a very frustrating conundrum indeed. However, don’t despair! Review the tips below to secure a position in your chosen career.

  1. Find an internship or volunteer opportunity. Securing an internship or volunteer position in your career area of interest is a great way to gain experience. An internship or volunteer position also provides you with the opportunity to build your network. It is not uncommon for an internship or volunteer position to turn into a paid position.
  2. Utilize LinkedIn. Networking with industry professionals is a great way to find out what employers are looking for and how to enter into a particular field. Connect with people at the organizations you are interested in and attempt to build relationships. You may also want to connect with people who hold positions you have targeted and pick their brains for advice regarding entering a particular field. Reach out to WGU Alumni in your desired field to conduct informational interviews. Conducting informational interviews with alumni is a great way to get advice on how to better align yourself with entry level employment in your field and to learn more about how they got started in the field.
  3. Search for keywords instead of job titles. Don’t give up on finding entry-level opportunities, just be creative in your approach. Instead of entering titles into job boards search specific skills. For example, if you are seeking an entry-level position in human resources, search for terms like ‘onboarding’ and ‘staffing’. Considering the fact that job titles rarely tell the complete story of a person’s duties, you may have to focus on the activities you would like to do at work as opposed to the title.
  4. Consider alternative options. You can always look into comparable industries for a smoother transition. Consider positions that will help gain experience with the end goal being to move to your field of choice later down the line. For example, staffing could be a good alternative to human resources. You can easily take your experience in staffing and move to a more human resources related opportunity down the road. If you are currently working, think about gaining industry experience from another department within your current company. Talk to people in your human resources department or your supervisor to see if there are any opportunities/help needed where you can gain experience. 
  5. Visit staffing agencies. Staffing agencies are yet another resource you can use to find entry-level opportunities. It is always good to have someone else working on your behalf to find openings for you. These companies have both long-term and short-term entry-level positions that can give your resume a much needed boost.
  6. Continue your professional development. There are many places where you can find free or cheap courses for continuous learning, including the WGU Career & Professional Development website. Some of the categories include communication, business acumen, strategic leadership, and conflict management. Not only will you gain knowledge, but completing additional coursework and trainings demonstrates your passion for your field and how you stay up to date on the latest changes in your field.

Be proactive in your job search and create opportunities by following the tips above. Don't wait around for a position to fall in your lap or solely depend your degree for entry. Get started today and contact your WGU Career & Professional Development specialist for individual assistance!