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NIT (Ninja in Training) looking for guidance.
From: herrasher at gmail.com (Kennith Asher)
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 09:08:34 -0700


I too took the "roundabout" path in my career path.  The truth is people of
our generation (post baby boom generations really) change careers at least
three times on average in their working lives.  Since a small percentage of
career changes include going back to school, this demonstrates to me that
education is not necessarily the path to a new career.  As Tim rightly
points out, some of the most brilliant and influential people in high tech
are not college grads.

I still believe having at least a BS is of very high importance, if only to
protect yourself and allow for some flexibility.  Most large companies, in
the interest of fairness, define pay grade scales which are at least
partially determined by education level.  Without a BS your career
trajectory is limited in these types of companies.  I see having a degree as
another weapon in your earning arsenal.  Yeah, you may not always need it
but it can come in mighty handy sometimes.

Also, think about the concept that the most brilliant and influential people
in high tech are not college grads....

I personally don't believe myself to be among their number and therefore
need to do my best to arm myself with whatever earning weapons are

FYI, I went to community college for a network/systems admin focused AA, got
CCNA and MCSA certified, landed a job for awful pay at a startup where I was
able to learn way more than I would have at a larger company (pay traded for
experience and education) and then was lucky enough to have that company
purchased by a larger company (my pay suffered worse at this point due to a
lack of a BS) who payed for the second half of my BS.  During all my days at
school I worked full time as well.

It's certainly no easy road to educate ones self while working full time
with a family but then nothing worthwhile is easy IMHO.

Best of luck to you,


On Thu, May 14, 2009 at 8:01 AM, Tim Mugherini <gbugbear at gmail.com> wrote:


There is a lot of great advice here but wanted to add my 2 cents. I also
changed careers to IT when I hit my late 20's after spending 7 years at
UMASS getting my BS in Sports Medicine while working full time to support my
family. Not once have a regretted my "formal" college education. Nor has it
ever hindered me in obtaining a job in IT or IT security. If anything I
landed my current and previous jobs supporting IT Infrastructure and
Security within my industry in part because of my Life Sciences degree.

With that said, my advice is to make sure you love what you learn and do!
My first love was physiology - which is how I spent seven years only getting
4-5 hours of sleep a night. My second love was computers and security. Which
is how I only run on 4-5 hours of sleep every night now.

So take all the aforementioned advice from others and learn everything you
can. Find something you are passionate about and consider specializing in
that area of security. If you find your not passionate about what your
learning in school then change majors to something you are passionate about,
change schools, or take what you learn there everyday and apply it to
security (this could be a lot of fun). This goes for any remedial entry
level IT job you may have the opportunity to accept. While not necessary, A
college degree will only help you later on no matter what the major is in.
If anything, a formal college education will teach you focus, more efficient
ways to learn and retain information, and time management skills (especially
when you child is eagerly waiting for your arrival home).

On the flip side, some of the most brilliant people in the industry have
had no college at all. Ill let you decide.

There is a diverse group responding to your email here but I guarantee that
everyone who has responded here has one thing in common - they love and are
passionate what they do!

More of a pep talk than resources or a direction but I hope it helps.

Best of luck!


On Wed, May 13, 2009 at 5:31 PM, Robin Wood <dninja at gmail.com> wrote:

2009/5/13 Mike Patterson <mike.patterson at unb.ca>:
Jack Daniel wrote on 5/13/09 12:55 PM:
Effective communication skills will occasionally be more valuable to
you than any technical skill you may have.

Disagree.  Effective communication skills will always be at least as
valuable as your technical skill, and will frequently be the more
valuable of the two.  I don't even draw a distinction.

You may be the smartest person in the world, but if you can't prove it
to me in a way I and others I work for and with can understand, I still
won't hire you.  Yeah, you broke into my DC - great, how did you do it?
 Jibberyjabberybleebloo, I see, thank you - do you have a dictionary?

We (security pros) have enough of a bad rep that nobody wants somebody
on their team that'll just make them look worse.

In other words, practise your writing.  Try to explain the latest
vulnerability in your own words.  Get your wife and kids and dog and cat
and next door neighbour and boss and co-workers and everybody else to
read it, and see if it makes sense.  Try writing some documentation on
how to lock down that AP.  *Give references.*  Hell, try different
writing tools - not everybody needs to be a Word drone!  I write my
documentation in LaTeX.

I think it depends on where you are wanting to work, if you want to be
a techie sitting in a backroom working on tools and doing research
then you need to communicate with your team mates but maybe not with
the outside world. If you want to be client facing then you will need
to be able to communicate well.

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