From Soldier to Cyber Intelligence & Security
A career in the military ends for everyone, eventually. It may be after a few years, it may be on completion of an extensive and decorated career. For whatever reason it may be, the daunting reality is that most of us have to embark on our new career as a ‘civilian’.
Once a soldier makes this decision, the security blanket of the Military is removed; their home, their career, their job security – giving all this up can be a difficult decision. What if I don’t find a job? What if I get do get a job but am then made redundant? Where am I going to live? How will I pay my mortgage?
These were questions that went through my head when my wife and I found out we were expecting our third child and we agreed that I should leave to spend more time at home with my family. I would never get these early years back and it was important to be there for them.
After a big gulp of courage, I submitted my ‘Notice to Terminate’ and embarked on my biggest challenge yet – resettlement and securing a life for my family outside of the military.
During my time in the British Army I worked as an Intelligence Analyst and was primarily responsible for gathering, analysing and disseminating accurate military intelligence in a timely and professional manner. This would provide me with excellent experience, but I really wanted to work within Cyber Security which led me to find opportunities within the Military where I could do this. But opportunities like this rarely appear overnight.
I once heard the expression “Resettlement starts the day you join the Army.” I completely agree with this; everything you do is a learning opportunity, an experience that makes you a stronger, more capable person. So, with this advice in mind and an unfaltering will, I began to self-study at home on my evenings and weekends. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
I studied CompTIA Network+ and Security+ in my evenings to gain a better understanding of the fundamentals before progressing on to a distance learning degree when I felt I was ready for it. I have now finished the degree and successfully achieved a Bsc (Hons) Intelligence and Cyber Security First Class.
My dedication and hard work paid off. After scoring highly on the Defence Cyber Aptitude Test and attending the Cyber Assessment Board, I was selected for a position within the Cyber Protection Team as a Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst. This opportunity allowed me to consolidate my studies and put what I had been reading about in to practice.
Then my official resettlement started. I knew what I wanted to do, I had the experience and I had the qualifications, so the planning and preparation was already in place. What I needed was support and guidance to make the transition and integrate in to a new network of like-minded people.
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to TechVets and the Veterans' Cyber Academy powered by Immersive Labs, which aims to ‘build on the strength of veterans.’ And build they do! TechVets provides a bridge for veterans and service leavers into Cyber Security and Technology careers.
I was introduced to a new online community which is extremely active and supportive, as well as a cyber academy in which I could practice some of my skills, as well as learn new ones. But for me, the best thing that TechVets offered was the amount of events they have, from small meetups to providing free tickets to lucky winners to events such as CRESTCON 2019 (I was one of the lucky ones!)
Whilst there is currently a large cyber security skills gap being reported in the media, TechVets have identified the skills of service leavers and are helping to retrain and reduce this gap.
TechVets Co-founder Mark Milton said “the transferable skills of the veteran community are a national resource and have a vital role to play in supporting the security and prosperity of the nation.”
Fast forward to today and I currently work as a Field Applications Engineer at Telesoft Technologies, a cutting edge research and development company, designing some of the best and fastest cyber security solutions in the world.
As daunting as my decision to leave appeared at first, it was definitely the right decision. I am thoroughly enjoying the challenges that civilian life has to offer and continue to engage with the TechVets community to hopefully provide information that may help someone, like others have helped me.