Almost everyone can agree that military service provides veterans with a variety of different skills applicable to positions across many different industries. According to the Department of Defense, nearly 200,000 enlisted soldiers and officers alike transition from military to civilian life each year. As these men and women begin to adjust to civilian life and search for a new occupation, there is one particular industry that they should keep in mind: cybersecurity.
After all, veterans are trained to protect our country, who better to protect our network security?
Four veterans with a variety of different military and educational backgrounds share tips below for those transitioning out of the military and want to jump into the cybersecurity industry, as well as what skills specifically veterans bring to the table.
“I was fortunate to conduct cybersecurity operations at various points throughout my entire career in the Air Force and after when I worked with the federal government. I was routinely asked to identify vulnerabilities used to gain access to sensitive information, to better protect the specific organization. This was back in the early 90s when no one really understood what cyber operations were. Little did I know, this would later translate into a career in the private sector, defending companies’ sensitive data.
During my time in the military, I learned to always be resourceful, flexible and willing to change at a moment’s notice. Many veterans possess these same skills and would likely find the cybersecurity industry is an ideal fit. When applying for jobs post-military, emphasize these qualities–and that you are willing to go above and beyond for the company. For managers who are looking to hire someone who comes from a military background, you can tell quickly if that individual really believed in that culture and whether or not they’ve harnessed those principles. If they do, they could be some of your best hires.”
“While in the military, I quickly learned failure is not an option. If it doesn’t work one way, hit it from another angle. Even when I hit roadblocks today, I recognize, because of my background, that there has to be another way to solve the problem. You learn to use the people around you. I may not have all the answers, but I know how to get them. This came into practice for me when I was transitioning out of the military into a civilian career.
In the Air Force, I was a mechanic. I got my break into cybersecurity because someone looked at my resume and saw that I won’t let myself fail, even if I lacked a lot of relevant experience for the position. It worked out for both of us, and I moved up very quickly.
I also pursued certificates when it came to advancing my knowledge in the field, doing Microsoft first and CISSP, which helped get me in the door. After that, I got my degree while I was employed in the cybersecurity realm. Even if you don’t have direct experience in cybersecurity, your takeaways from military life will likely ensure your success in the field. It is definitely a path worth considering.”
“In the military, I had top secret clearance, which meant there was a sense of urgency around detecting and responding to every potential enemy threat or risk. This translates to how modern security operations centers (SOCs) must operate today when a network anomaly or intrusion is identified. That’s why I was inspired to work in the cybersecurity space. There’s a certain criticality to everything we do that keeps our jobs exciting, while being incredibly rewarding. We are protecting our citizens in a different way now—by ensuring their data is safe.”
“Marine mentality is what truly helped me achieve success throughout my career. While I was in the military, it was always mission first. No matter what, you completed the mission. This translated into emphasizing overall collaboration. When you’re in the front lines, whether in battle or against adversaries in the cybersecurity world, you need to support the front lines. When you call for support and need help, you need to have good relationships with your fellow Marines or with other departments and teams.
When I talk to our customers, once they learn I was in the military, it puts them at ease a little bit, because they do know from experience we are true to our word. We have a code of integrity. When you’re thinking about it from a customer standpoint, it’s not something that you can just show on a resume, it’s something you have to prove.”