I first came to Illumio as a marketing intern who knew more about film study than cybersecurity.
Starting a career in cybersecurity can sometimes feel like an uphill battle when you don't have a knowledge base built up from years of study and experience.
But my knowledge gaps were filled in by my incredible colleagues over months of work and collaboration, and I can attribute my excited return to Illumio since then to that indispensable collective mentorship.
But along the way, I also developed habits that have helped me deepen my knowledge and grow more confident as a contributor.
In honor of the theme for this year's Cybersecurity Awareness Month, See Yourself in Cyber, I want to pass on those tricks to anyone who may be considering a career in cybersecurity.
1. Start small and concise
Biting off more than I could chew was an early mistake I made as a wide-eyed intern racing to get up to speed.
My mindset was to rush into as many online courses, deep dives, and resource centers as possible and soak up all the requisite knowledge in one go. Predictably, I was overwhelmed by the density and breadth of the material. I got burned out before I picked up anything meaningful.
When I took a step back and started small, things immediately felt different.
I treated myself like a new customer tasked with learning the basics about what Illumio actually did. This was trivial knowledge and even felt a bit embarrassing to focus on, but it laid a foundation and kept a simple, singular focus fresh in my mind.
I dug around for as many concise messaging and marketing materials I could get my hands on, searching for one or two sentences that could effectively describe every function of Illumio. Then, my search expanded to more long form content, like blogs and news articles.
Slowly but surely, I grew more comfortable with the technical language and business structures that permeated everything Illumio does.
2. Be a visual learner
Just like my search for concise messaging, I was eager to get my hands on as many diagrams and visual concepts as possible.
The visual storytelling of complex cybersecurity concepts like Zero Trust Segmentation demands creativity and comprehensibility. I was fortunate to collaborate with Illumio's branding team from the get-go, and this let me learn and absorb on a gradient.
I was able to dig into a beautiful photo library that exemplified how Illumio represented itself on an abstract level, with beautiful occurrences of grids and barriers in architecture and urban design.
Once I knew Illumio better on an abstract, aesthetic level, I was able to see similar patterns in the software architecture and technical diagrams I studied.
Visual study really taps into our tendencies to see the world through patterns, and it made the more complex diagrams at the heart of Illumio's visual language feel more far meaningful than scattered numbers and figures.
The two forms of visual learning contextualized each other beautifully and filled in the gaps left behind from my reading and research.
3. Be patient
In such a fast-paced environment, I often felt the need to match the breakneck speed of my colleagues.
The world of cybersecurity has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it nature, and it's a factor that can often contribute to feeling overwhelmed. It may be counterintuitive, but slowing down and acknowledging I couldn't get myself up to speed in a matter of hours or days did wonders for my learning.
I focused on my role's niche within the organization and began to dig into the collaborative parts of my work, interacting with colleagues from different teams and departments as I went.
The collaborative nature behind so much of what Illumio does sparked plenty of moments of gradual, natural learning that made me feel more comfortable with each passing day.
Interested in a career in cybersecurity at Illumio? Check out our career openings and internship opportunities.