Gen Y Speaks: Going from teaching to cybersecurity wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone

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The job search journey was not easy.

While I wanted to stay in public service, as it was one of the mediums in which I could give back to society, I couldn’t just do an interdepartmental transfer as a teacher.

I had two projects in mind: I could either look for a position in a ministry (Plan A), or be a tourist guide (Plan B).

So, in addition to submitting applications through [email protected] and waiting for responses, I was also doing my best to get a tour guide license.

It turned out that plan B wasn’t quite a plan, as Covid-19 quickly upended the tourism sector.

Plan A didn’t seem to be progressing either, because either I didn’t hear from the ministries or my applications were rejected.

I grew increasingly worried that what was supposed to be short-term unemployment was going to last longer than I thought.

In what seemed like a timely encounter, I then reconnected with a college friend who had also majored in history.

He works at Singapore’s Cyber ​​Security Agency (CSA), and more specifically at its International Cyber ​​Policy Office, which promotes international cybersecurity cooperation.

As the office was looking to hire, he shared the job description with me and asked if I was interested.

The funny thing is that I left teaching knowing that I wanted to pursue my interest in international relations.

Yet when the opportunity presented itself, I wasn’t quite sure I was up to it.

It didn’t help that the only thing I knew about cybersecurity at the time was through the basic cyber wellness classes I taught in school.

So I decided to get books related to both foreign policy and cybersecurity to expand my knowledge in both areas. With the support of my family and friends (who had much more faith in me than in myself), I convinced myself that I had to pass the interview.

I was hired in May 2020 and it was the start of another learning journey.

I found the learning curve rather steep. I did not know at all the work processes at the CSA or the content.

It also didn’t help that we were in the middle of the pandemic circuit breaker when I joined the agency. This meant that my interactions with my co-workers were limited to virtual messaging and I couldn’t just walk into their office to ask the many questions I had.

As such, I spent a lot of time wondering if I was doing things right.

Still, I believe that the skills (critical thinking, communication, etc.) that I developed both as a humanities graduate and as a teacher ultimately helped me adapt to my new job. .

Constantly reading about cybersecurity and technologies, harassing my fellow patients across the agency, and attending relevant cybersecurity courses have also helped me hone my craft and manage my job better.

I will not deny that there are days when work can become particularly difficult and tiring mentally and physically.

Preparing for my first Singapore International Cyber ​​Week in October 2020, where I had to learn how to manage competing priorities, was a true baptism of fire.

On these days when it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, it’s tempting to wonder if I made the right decision in changing careers or if I should have stuck with what I was at. comfortable.

I guess what keeps me going is being clear about why I made the change in the first place.

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