As a student pursuing a career in cyber security you have most likely realized that to be job or internship ready in most cases, the coursework provided by your institution is not sufficient to teach you all the prerequisite knowledge necessary to be successful in the field.
Self-study is not only encouraged but is imperative to an individual’s success in Cybersecurity. Taking the time to learn cybersecurity concepts and skills on your own through certifications, home labs, and cybersecurity skills platforms will reduce the time it takes for one to break into the field as well as set you apart from others in the applicant pool.
While self-study, paired with college coursework is a proven way of breaking into the field, being a college student brings many demands on its own such as classes, student life, part-time jobs, and other responsibilities. This also holds true for those who are transitioning from another career who may still work full time in other fields and are trying to make time for their security studies as they juggle work, family life, and other commitments. Often this can lead to stress and ultimately, burnout without the right approach.
In this blog, I will be touching on how you can find an effective self-study strategy to help you reach your cybersecurity goals.
DO THE NECESSARY RESEARCH
A pre-requisite activity to creating a self-study plan is to identify key factors
- 1 – What knowledge and skills are necessary for certain positions?
- 2 – What training is available to help gain the required knowledge and skills?
For self-study to be effective there needs to be direction. Cybersecurity is an extremely broad field and to gain competency, one must figure out where their interest lies and start to tailor their studying toward gaining information and skills that will help achieve their goals.
For example, an individual decides they want to pursue a career in cloud security. They might start looking at job descriptions for various cloud security positions and see the commonalities between each role. In these descriptions, they will likely see that many employers are looking for experience with AWS or Azure, knowledge of a programming language, understanding of Identity and Access Management amongst other skills.
Additionally, one might utilize content creation websites or social media such as Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, or LinkedIn and learn from the experiences of current industry professionals what skills and competencies they deem necessary for success. Once an individual identifies what needs to be learned, they can begin to find the necessary learning resources.
SET ATTAINABLE GOALS
Once all the preliminary information has been gathered, it’s time to set goals as to what targets the self-study sessions should achieve. Due to time constraints and other commitments, you will have to set goals that are relevant to your situation and career aspirations.
For example, say you are a student looking for a SOC Analyst internship a year from now, you likely have coursework, a part-time job, and other commitments, so what is important here is quality over quantity.
It would be impossible to say that you want to master all the things in the job description in such a short amount of time. However, It’s best to focus on what’s most important and where your current knowledge gaps are to achieve this goal, so you are maximizing your time.
For a SOC analyst internship one could say to be ready for an interview, for the next 4 months they will set aside time twice a week for labs and twice a week for reading SOC-related content or watching educational videos at 45 min intervals. While 45 minutes a day does not sound like an extraordinary amount of time, it is something that is attainable even with a busy schedule, making it easier to be consistent. That 45 minutes over 3 or 4 months will go a long way toward helping achieve the goal of landing that internship.
As you achieve smaller goals it is easier to then start committing to longer study times and bigger goals such as landing that full-time position or a more advanced certification as you begin to learn what works for you and what doesn’t (given your situation).
ESTABLISH AN ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM
Unlike school where there are class schedules, graduation requirements to fulfill, and deadlines to meet, self-study is completely up to the individual in how they manage it. This is often a blessing and a curse. Although the flexibility is a positive, it can be tempting to not follow through with studying due to the fact there would be no immediate consequences.
A method to combat this is to connect with like-minded individuals who have similar aspirations as you in the field. This provides a community of people who you can relate to as you navigate your learning journey.
Also, these are people who you can share your goals with. This will naturally put more pressure on you to follow through with your plans. At Cyberwox Academy we offer accountability sessions that provide an avenue for our members to discuss their goals and how they will achieve them, pushing our members to be the best version of themselves and ultimately reach the milestones they have set. Be sure to get involved if you are on the self-study journey!
As always, if you have any additional questions, Join our Discord community where we can provide additional guidance and resources. Happy Studying!