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Category Archives: WOMEN IN CYBER

It’s not about how bad you want it. It’s about how hard you’re willing to work to get it.

When I decided to transition into career I was aware of the commitment and struggles that would come with going back to school, and to be honest that scared me because from what I remember I was never the brightest in class from my little school experience and I have to admit that I wasn’t the most was patient of students either and I really struggled with the theoretical parts of education while all I wanted to do was get down to the practical side and start doing something that had immediate results and now transitioning into cybersecurity where my first thought that about the infosec world was that it was all about hacking or breaking into things from day one, but to my surprise that’s the least you get to do and it’s more about learning how different technology (and the people who use them for good or bad) work which means that there is a hell a lot of theory of 900 pages to learn. (I have no regrets 😉

As a student who has a soon to be two years old and a full-time social/tech entrepreneurship venture that very recently become very demanding where I found myself having to travel, collaborate with different countries(funny how life is), but I have to admit that the hardest part hasn’t been learning about cybersecurity or actually attending my courses which despite everything that’s going on I am actually proud to say that I have 100% attendance, for now, fingers crossed, the challenge has been finding out that I actually don’t know how to study and keeping a balance between home, school, and my career.

Between working during the day and maybe a few hours in the evening for school pickups, dinner and some mom time with my son, that usually leads to me being beyond exhausted by the time my son goes to bed, the one thing I usually look forward to by that time is to turn on Netflix on and just zone out with a show and the last thing that’s definitely not on my mind is opening up my SSCP book and even when I actually forced myself to actually do it, I would usually fall asleep within 20min !

You would think that I am not committed to my career transition, but I am actually very committed to seeing this through and actually becoming a kick-ass security engineer, but the thing is for someone who dropped out of school, and being mostly self-taught throughout my entire career until now I see the different skills I would have acquired if I had actually gone to school.

So this is why I decided to reach out to different students in my network and ask them about their study style and also reached out to other single moms who just like me decided to go back to school to be able to offer their family a better life and how they manage it all, I received great resources and advice and having that in mind, I realized that I needed to find my learning style, talking to them made realize that I had to find a way to study my theoretical subjects with the help practical tools and I had to experiment to find a way that works for me.

The thing is when you already have a busy schedule, especially as a parent adding studying something new into your life can seem crazy, but i truly believe that there is no mountain too tall to overcome all you need is passion and commitment to finding the solution that gets you where you want to be and that’s why decided to share my current struggles and challenges when it comes to following your passion when you are already busy with life and work.

Here are my five steps to finding a balance in my so hectic life.

Having To Say NO

The first thing I had to do was talk to my friends, colleagues, and partners about my new student status which meant I was not going to be as available as I used to be, I had to still stick to all my professional commitments that I had accepted for November, but going forward I find myself having to turn down so many amazing opportunities that I dreamed about but accepting and attending them would then result in me not keeping up with my study commitment.

Being More Disciplined

I actually had to create and prepare a time management schedule and learn to be disciplined enough to stick to it. Being able to create this plan I had to asses exactly how I spent my time every day and I found out that by waking up early and doing everything I have to do I can actually dedicate two to three hours a day to go through my SSCP material on weekdays, then four to six hours on the weekends when my son is napping.

Do Not Compromise

It’s already hard to be disciplined in different areas of our lives on a day t day basis but the moment we accept to compromise because it might seem important or you might just do it this once and get back on track the next day, as tempting as it might seem, do not compromise when it comes to your study time or anything you are looking to achieve in life.

Don’t Push Your Mental Health Over The Edge

We are familiar with the feelings of stress and anxiety which are a huge part of our life and it could be so easy to push ourselves to a point of return because we have limited time to reach our goal, or we might feel under pressure, and we forget to be kind to yourself especially our mental well-being. I have the type of personality that when I am doing something or learning something I usually live, breath and dream it and this could be good but it can easily become damaging so it’s important to have a balance and my son is my reminder to stop and let my brain take a break.

Let’s Have More Fun

Like anything in life we learn best when we are actually having fun

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

And If you ever find yourself getting drowned with all stress mental, physical or financial, don’t ever be afraid to reach out to people for help, whether it’s asking a friend to take on temporary babysitting duties or asking a LinkedIn connection in the same field that you are in for additional support or clarification, so often people surprise you with the support they are willing to give you knowing that you’re striving to achieve your goals.

Final Note…

If you are like me and you find yourself embarking on this crazy journey, remember that for so many people it’s not easy finding the famous work-life-study that fits us perfectly, but the thing to remember we aren’t the first ones to embark on this journey either many people have managed successfully to do it whether they were single parents working full time or running their businesses, and it’s up to us to learn from their successes and even more their errors.

Remember that some of the most brilliant people in the world are self-taught…..

Over the years I have sort of became an expert on finding the best way to self teach myself technical skills, with my willingness and desire to learn how technology works has been the key to building my career and helping those that want to get started.

This year I started learning Python due to my recent career change into cyber-security and after having a few discussions with different type of profiles within the field and having my instructor confirm on what language is essential to know to be able to work in a technical field within cyber-security , the conclusion was that Python is a great programming language to learn.

So what exactly is Python?

Python is a high-level, object-oriented, interpreted programming language, which has garnered worldwide attention. If this doesn’t mean anything to you,what you need to take away from this section is that Python is a programming language used to develop software on the web and in app form, including mobile. It’s also used within Cyber-security and Data science fields for data manipulation or automation for example.

Python was created by a developer called Guido Van Rossum.

In the past 11 months I have discovered that there are a couple of excellent tools and libraries used in Python, and surprisingly it’s actually has vibrant, global developer community(Mostly Men though i wonder why?) around it. Also i believe that by learning Python it will definitely give me or you an edge if you are looking to have a more technical career within cyber-security.

My philosophy has always been that you can’t really understand or even learn anything until you get your hands dirty by actually writing those lines of code and eventually messing up like everyone and then spending hours,days fixing it and then discovering the rush that comes with this process, just simply looking at the code or copying and pasting it won’t help you learn or understand what is actually happening behind the scene.

So after doing extensive research and speaking to different profiles and finally making the decision to pursue my Python journey, i decided to go back to the first place that helped me get into tech in the first place “Codecademy” which truly takes to heart my belief of “learning by doing” philosophy.

The great thing about Codecademy is you get to learn by tackling different assignments and challenges that help you understand what makes python or any other programming language works. But to my surprise they also went on and creating a PRO subscription membership which is absolutely fine they have to earn money some how but this means you don’t get access to some of the features that can help you dive deeper into the language.

And if things got difficult to understand, or i simply need more challenges or projects , I would find other resources such as Stack Overflow and Quora, Google,Reddit etc… to help me fully understand. And when I was able to actually write my first python code or when I was able to write a function that found the sum of all prime numbers, or solving my Hacker Rank challenges without any help all this was only possible because i practiced and like any other skill you might want to learn, takes practice, practice and more practice, working on these different projects, and challenges has truly been a huge help in keeping my focus and every milestone or problem solved is the reason why i am still here, motivated in my learning journey.

So, after I finished Codecademy free python course, I wanted and needed more, but the one things that I learnt over time, was that for every paid version of some course you find online to teach you a coding skill, there is an equally as good resources available which is completely free that also offers you just the same knowledge –all you have to do is go on Google and dig around for it and to be honest most of the time you don’t have to to dig at all – there are that many quality free resources on coding groups on LinkedIn or Facebook groups from beginners just like us that you can join and i bet that there is someone who has already build a resource library that he or she would be willing to share with others.

I recently began learning how to run “Python Scripts” on Real Python this involves creating mini-scripts to automate certain tasks which apparently makes your work quiet easier, i know that i am no where near close to being a Python expert, but I’m slowly making progress each day, being a beginner again, trust me i know that learning to code, can be quite and exciting adventure but it also comes with a few low moments of utter frustration, but if coding is truly something that you are a passionate about, don’t let that stop you from pursing it, i believe from my past experience that it gets better and more adventurous as we move on from newbie to an expert.

Some additional resources that i am using to learn:

  1. Code With Codecademy
  2. Dataquest – Python Programming Fundamentals.
  3. Cybrary Course: Python for Cyber Security Professionals(Pro version only and that’s a shame)— https://www.cybrary.it/course/python/
  4. Automate the Boring Stuff Online Book — https://automatetheboringstuff.com/
  5. Cracking the Code with Python Online Book — https://inventwithpython.com/cracking/
  6. Python Crash Course: A Hands-on, Project-based Introduction to Programming
  7. For Coding you have Hacker Rank challenges which are absolutely great to practice what you read or learnt.

Now that I’ve shared with you how I have been learning Python and the resources I’ve used, If you have other resources that can help me improve my Python skills please do recommend them to me!