This article is sponsored by Fortinet.
Cybersecurity professionals are in demand more than ever before, with 3.12 million professionals needed to fill the cybersecurity skills gap in order to effectively secure critical assets. This gap between talent needed and the current workforce spells opportunity for anyone looking for an exciting and meaningful career, as cybersecurity is a field that rewards curiosity! Those who desire to constantly learn and improve their skill sets will find they are in high demand, and there are plenty of opportunities for advancement.
Take me, for example. I started my first job in cybersecurity two years ago, and in that short time, I have learned so much! Currently, I am a technical support manager at Fortinet, a global leader in broad, integrated, and automated cybersecurity solutions. In this role, I manage over a dozen engineers in the Technical Support Center but I began my journey in cybersecurity at Fortinet based in Ottawa, Canada in February 2020 as a level-one engineer. After my first year, I was promoted to level two and just nine months later I took on my current role.
My love for cybersecurity began while I was working towards a bachelor’s degree in computer science back home in India. There, I was exposed to networking and cybersecurity, and I was quickly hooked. I then moved to Canada to attend Dalhousie University, a Fortinet academic partner, where I received my master's degree in cybersecurity and networking. Dalhousie is also where I met representatives of Fortinet and arranged my placement.
Curiosity and initiative will reward you
But you don’t need to follow this same path. Several of my colleagues did not come from a cyber background, but what they do have in common is a desire to always keep learning. One of the great things about the cybersecurity field is that it is possible to move forward if you are willing to further your education and take initiative. This is especially important because the industry is always changing so the skills you master today may be outdated tomorrow.
While my career so far has been amazing, there were bumps in the road. Being new to Canada, I have had to make adjustments while dealing with the misperceptions of others throughout my journey. As an engineer, part of my role is to speak with customers looking for support. Often, I have found that customers assume that I am a customer service representative, not an engineer, as I am a woman. But those perceptions are changing. Now, my biggest challenge is managing a technical support team and learning to adapt my customer service skills to better relate to a team that is predominately male and often older than I am. It’s just another aspect of the career that is challenging in the best kind of way.
Test the water with free training
If you feel a career in cybersecurity might be for you, a good place to start is with free courses and training. Fortinet offers some free cybersecurity training courses and has pledged to train a million people globally by 2026 to help address the global skills shortage. Before moving to Canada, I took advantage of this training even though I had a background in computer science. I earned the Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE) levels 1-3 while at university and am working through NSE 6 now. You don’t need any sort of technical background to take these courses and they are helpful in giving you a solid foundation of knowledge.
If continuous learning and advancement sound attractive to you, I encourage you to consider cybersecurity. It’s worked for me.
Mansi Bhalodia is TAC Manager 1 at Fortinet Canada