Why Millennials Should Take Up The Cyber Cause

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Why Millenials Should Take Up The Cyber Cause

Why Aren’t They Interested?

At the end of each academic year, middle schoolers move on to high school, high schoolers start college, and college undergrads begin looking to enter America’s workforce.  The cybersecurity industry has plenty of room to house many of those eager to jumpstart their professional lives (and by plenty we mean 1.5 million unfilled jobs by 2020). To add more wonder and confusion to the staggering gap of unfilled roles, many of the entry-level jobs in information security have a base salary of $80K/year. Growing alongside the development and cultural integration of technology, you would think millennials would be easily drawn to the job potential and career growth of cybersecurity. But the attraction isn’t as natural as you’d assume.

So why isn’t there a magnetic pull, drawing hard-working millennials to the cybersecurity industry? It isn’t that they aren’t interested; it’s that they are simply unaware. While both private and public universities are clamouring to develop cybersecurity degree programs, they still a lack the critical ability to provide pragmatic and up-to-date career guidance on the types of cybersecurity jobs that await graduates with their shiny new degrees. Most young people aren’t presented with the options or pathways to pursue some of the modern era’s most exciting career opportunities, including cybersecurity. K-12 programs are often stuck teaching the same rote curriculum as in the mid-1950’s. Colleges struggle to understand career paths outside tried and true engineering, pre-med, or pre-law. It’s even more rare that opportunities within the cyber world are even mentioned during career aptitude tests, dinner table discussions, academic classes (of all levels), and career coaching. In fact, 82% of millennials claim that their academic role models didn’t even mention a career path in cybersecurity.
Beyond career guidance, the other ugly truth is that cyber has a marketing problem. Popular culture (and even our politics) continues to reinforce the overplayed visual of an overweight, antisocial hacker in his basement sipping Mountain Dew. Without a change in the way we talk about security, it’s hard to attract more people (and genders) into the profession. In reality, cybersecurity is an exciting and dynamic career. By talking about security in different ways, adding emphasis, and providing additional encouragement, more people might start thinking this is a profession that they’re interested in and could even excel.

Cybersecurity: It Takes All Kinds

A common misconception is that you have to be a complete techie to break in and succeed in cybersecurity.  Many believe that if you didn’t receive a degree in computer science or information technology, then you have no future in cybersecurity. It’s time to debunk that career-limiting myth.
Cybersecurity is a field composed of a wide variety of disciplines requiring backgrounds from computer science and coding to law, policy, and analytics. Don’t believe us?  Ask any person you meet who has spent more than five years working in cybersecurity. Chances are that a cyber veteran doesn’t have a degree in cybersecurity (cyber degrees weren’t even available). In fact, many practitioners have backgrounds in totally unrelated fields (like history, biology, or even music) that you wouldn’t expect.
Diversity of education, background, and perspectives is actually a good thing in information security.  In many cases the communication and soft skills taught in liberal arts programs serve as a critical foundation for future success in cyber roles.  Hiring managers aren’t only selecting candidates who can monitor and manage firewalls and lessen risks, but also looking for strengths such as researching and writing instincts.  Many students already possess the skills that would make them high-performers and achievers in information security. Wesley Simpson, Chief Operating Officer of (ISC)2, the organization that administers the CISSP exam, recently said that fields of study such as history or psychology might give candidates an advantage due to “the ability to take information and craft it into the right mechanism for the right audience.” The cybersecurity job market is not only available to STEM graduates but couldn’t function without the balance and integration of multiple disciplines including but not limited to finance, economics, law and regulation, education, and administration.

Take the Leap, Millennials

Still have questions about the field? Perhaps you are not entirely sure what steps to take next. Compensation should not be the sole motivator when choosing a particular career, but it is influential. That said, the cybersecurity industry offers salaries significantly higher than the national average. Interested? Take our What’s Your Cyber Role? Quiz  and get matched with specific roles within the field.

Take the Cyber Role Personality Quiz