Career Changer: Sports Medicine to Cybersecurity

Career change sign - sports medicine to cybersecurity

Curious about changing careers? We caught up with Cybersecurity student, German Hall shortly after he accepted his first position in the IT field. He moved across the country to work for ReliaQuest (a MSP headquartered in Tampa) at their Las Vegas, NV, Security Operations Center (SOC). In our discussion, he shared details about his job search, employer’s hiring process, and initial salary offer. A glimpse into German’s new role will inspire you to take the next step in your career even before graduation.

Titan Interview: German Hall

Employer: ReliaQuest

Title: Associate Security Analyst (Tier 1)

Length of Time in Position: Three months

Industry Certifications: CompTIA Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker, Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician

Education: Currently earning an Associate in Science in Cybersecurity, St. Petersburg College, previously earned a Masters in Movement Science, Barry University, Miami Shores, FL.

From Sports Medicine to Cybersecurity:

With a former career in sports medicine, and a graduate degree in Movement Science, why did you decide to make a career change?

“There was limited room for growth professionally and financially, and little life-work balance in my former industry. I was working six days per week and my schedule was unknown 10 months out of the year.”

What advice would you give others preparing for their first position in cybersecurity?

“If you have entry-level knowledge, consider CompTIA Network+ and Security+ certification to differentiate yourself. Take a Cisco course, and understand networking and security principles. Build a home lab. It is easier to start in a Security Operations Center that provides great training!”

You found ReliaQuest’s job post on LinkedIn. As an entry-level cybersecurity professional, still completing your degree, how did you get them to notice you?

“I heard lots of ‘no’ (before I found ReliaQuest.) I built a home lab setting up virtual machines, because I did not have any field experience. My Kali Linux experience has helped, too. They were looking for employees with entry-level knowledge. I had both strong foundational knowledge and industry certifications, from taking online courses at SPC.”

“I connected with many cybersecurity recruiters on LinkedIn, but one day I saw a suggested job post for ReliaQuest, not through any of my connections. I direct messaged their recruiter, who sent my resume straight to their HR department. Four days later, they called me for an initial interview, which consisted of basic security principle questions. I went through five interviews over the course of two-weeks. At each stage of the interview process, I would hear a response within 24 to 48 hours. I accepted their initial salary offer of $60,000 per year.”

You moved across the country to work for them, is there something about this employer that made you excited to take that leap?

“They have rapidly grown their Security Operations Centers from a Tampa start-up in 2007, to serving over 200 large businesses nationally and internationally. At our site, their retention rate of employees is about 90%. Everyone’s voice is valued. They pride themselves on culture, and seek to hire people who are team players. I had to take a Culture Test! When I arrived in Las Vegas, I completed an intensive, month-long proprietary training program. The support from my managers was great.”

It is important to note, that at the same time German was completing his training, he was studying for his Certified Ethical Hacker certification, funded by SPC. He became a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) shortly after.

What is your typical day at ReliaQuest like?

“I currently work ‘C’ shift, from 6:00 pm to 3:00 am each week. I work on-site at their Security Operations Center, which operates 24/7, 365. Most of ReliaQuest’s new associates are scheduled then, when the volume is lower. My main role is to provide incident response for our customers when an incident is detected in their environment. I am responsible for determining the threat factor and how they were able to compromise a user or system. I investigate and suspicious or malicious acts. It is my job to take the burden off their cybersecurity team. A written report accompanies every ticket (incident).   We have service level agreements (SLA) in place with our customer call-out tree for before and after hour’s calls.”

Your employer has rapidly grown since they were a start-up. Did they explain how they would help you grow with them?

“Yes, they try to promote from within. I am currently an Associate Security Analyst (Tier 1) and every six to nine months, I will be eligible for assessment by our Career Review Committee. If a promotion were awarded, I would receive a 10 % raise with each step-up. If the Career Review Committee rules at six months that no promotion will be given, they will reassess me on the next available CRC date.

After one year of service with them, they will cover my costs of earning a new industry certification, or provide a certain amount toward higher education. They have an excellent pathway for growth, including leadership and technical positions. My next step is SOC (Security Operations Center) Analyst (Tier 1).”

What is next for you?

“I am working towards becoming a Tier 2 Security Analyst and will be studying to become CCNA Security certified.”

Thank you for your time and sharing your student perspective in your new career, Cyber Security. German differentiated himself online three ways:

  • Through use of social media – LinkedIn
  • Directly connecting with recruiters in his desired field
  • Earning a body of industry certifications before he had in-field experience.

A new career like German’s can be yours too. Get started today earning your Associate in Science in Cybersecurity with SPC, students who perform well academically, have opportunities to earn several industry certifications FREE. Are you applying for a job with ReliaQuest? Let them know that German Hall referred you!

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