Advice from BARR Associates on Starting a Career in Cybersecurity

February 15, 2022 |

Thinking about a career in cybersecurity? We understand—it might feel overwhelming to know where to start. However, with the recent expansion of the industry, there is a high-demand for qualified professionals. At BARR Advisory, our dynamic group of associates provided some great advice for those who are starting a career in cybersecurity or looking to break into the industry. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Being future ready is one of our core values at BARR, which means embracing continuous improvement in order to provide the best solutions. So, it comes to no surprise that one of the most common pieces of advice from BARR associates is asking questions and staying curious. 

“Asking questions in this industry is a must, especially when just starting out,” said Laura Moran, senior consultant, Cyber Risk Advisory, adding, “You’ll be thankful later on that you asked so many questions.”

Additionally, Amanda Parnigoni, senior consultant, Cyber Risk Advisory, said, “I have found being as transparent as possible has always led me to get much more clarity on the situation at hand, whether client specific, industry standards, or an internal topic.”

And it’s not always the newbies who are asking the questions. Becoming a learner and staying a learner was also emphasized among associates. “I’ve found even the most seasoned veterans are still learning,” said Larry Kincaid, senior consultant, CISO Advisory. 

Mitch Evans, director of CISO Advisory added, “Technology will never stop moving, so neither should our desire, as cyber security experts, to learn and understand how each new innovation impacts our clients and ourselves.”

While cybersecurity has been around for awhile, it is still fairly new as an academic discipline. Only within the last few years are colleges and universities offering degrees specific to the industry. So, while obtaining your degree in cybersecurity can be helpful, there are other ways our associates recommend gaining industry knowledge and experience. 

“Do not feel intimidated that you should have degrees or required qualifications. Knowing current technology will be helpful, and self-studying for certifications like security+ will be useful. There are many basic courses online that you can take advantage of to begin your security adventure,” said Swathi West, manager, HITRUST. 

Additionally, Jeff Hoskins, senior consultant, CISO Advisory, reiterated that, “there is no one clear cut path [to a career in cybersecurity]. Don’t think of a four-year degree as the first requirement—maybe that comes into play, but don’t go looking for a cybersecurity degree to get started.” Jeff recommends networking, internships, and starting out at help desk jobs to gain additional, hands-on experience. 

Like any industry, cybersecurity requires a number of individuals to maintain operation. From auditing to business development to marketing, there are many different roles within a cybersecurity company. In addition, a certain passion is required when conducting day-to-day responsibilities. No matter your role, our associates recommend staying passionate about cybersecurity’s ultimate goal: creating a safer world. 

“My advice would be to be extremely passionate about the role and cyber space; always apply yourself with commitment as you will be challenged and exposed to a great deal in this growing field; and the key is to enjoy and love maneuvering through it all,” said Julie Mungai, manager, Cyber Risk Advisory. 

Vince Maduri, manager, Business Development added, “It is crucial for you to have three key qualities: a passion for learning, a self-starter attitude, and curiosity. Our industry is dynamic and it is evolving and shifting constantly. These three qualities along with an interest in the space will help you to seek out the right answers and learn and grow as the industry continues to transform.”

Last but not least, adaptability was a big theme from associates. “This is a fantastic industry that is incredibly fast paced and ever changing. As a cybersecurity professional, it’s a great asset to continuously learn about the newest tools/trends and keep up to date with news,” said Niti Jadhav, senior consultant, Cyber Risk Advisory. 

Nicole Dillard, senior consultant, Cyber Risk Advisory, said, “Technology is constantly evolving and it’s impossible to know everything. So take each day at a time and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Everyone needs help at some point, even Bill Gates.”

At BARR, we believe our associates provide helpful advice for those wanting to start a career in cybersecurity. Right now, the industry is in high-demand, and staying curious, building experience, and maintaining a passion for your work as well as adaptability can set anyone up for success.

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