Looking for your first transition role to get started in the tech industry? That’s exactly how Kristen Kozinski made her career change. Kristen, who originally wanted to be a designer, now works for the New York Times as an Information Security Trainer.
Today, she joins us on the podcast to talk about transitioning to a new job and how to make a career change with no experience.
Listen to the episode below!
Disclosure: I’m a proud affiliate for some of the resources mentioned in this article. If you buy a product through my links on this page, I may get a small commission for referring you. Thanks!
Kristen’s Path to Her Tech Transition Role
In short, here are the four steps Kristen took while making her career change.
1. Got her foot in the door with an entry-level role
“I was working on my degree in web design and development, doing the whole thing online and kind of on my own time,” Kristen says. “And I really wanted to work for MailChimp, but I didn’t have the experience. So I figured, there's another way to get my foot in the door of this company. I started working on their support team, and did that for a year.”
The best thing about this strategy is that once you have an in at a company, you’ll make connections and be the first to know when new openings appear. That’s exactly what happened for Kristen.
“While I was there, they had a job opening for ‘deliverability engineer,’” she continues. “And this was a job that frequently people from support would transition into. One of my friends on the deliverability team told me I should apply. So I moved from our support team to the deliverability team and worked there for about a year and a half before I moved into our information security team.”
2. Got an apprenticeship transition role in cybersecurity
“MailChimp had this really great program where they offered apprenticeships with certain teams,” Kristen says. “The program was three months long and at the end of the three months, you'd sit and have a conversation with the manager and decide if it felt like a good fit for you. It was a really great opportunity, and that's how I made that jump from deliverability to information security.”
3. Showed interest and willingness to learn
“When I took the apprenticeship, I had really no experience other than an interest,” Kristen explains. “I kept an eye on blogs, and I would read about it, and I had done some research on the OWASP top 10. But luckily, since I was doing the apprenticeship program, the expectation on what I understood about cybersecurity was really low. And I find that when a lot of companies recruit internally for information security, that expectation is relatively low. They're mostly looking for a passion and interest, not understanding you to come in and be able to pentest a server or automatically start patching vulnerabilities in the application. There's not a whole lot of college programs that are offering cybersecurity, so most people don't have a formal education.”
4. Used social media to look for jobs she wanted
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for your next ideal role, but you don’t have to restrict yourself to the standard job boards. “I followed Runa Sandvik on Twitter—she's the Senior Director of Information Security at the New York Times—and she actually tweeted about an analyst position in the information security team,” Kristen says. “I reached out to her, had a conversation, and told her what I was looking for. She gave me the heads up that they were going to be hiring a trainer in a couple of months. So I kept an eye out for this job opening.” (As you can deduce, that worked out pretty well for her career change!)
Links and mentions from the episode:
- How to Decide If Tech Is for You (And What to Do Next) (S5E1)
- The Hacker News Newsletter
- Cross-site scripting Google game
- Kristen on Instagram
- Kristen on Twitter
Other resources Kristen recommends:
- Krebs on Security
- Dark Reading
- The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)
- Tripwire – State of Security Blog
Please note: These are affiliate links and if you buy a product from Amazon using one of them, I may get a commission for referring you.
- The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications
- Social Engineering: The Science of Human Hacking
- The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy
Where to listen to the podcast
You can listen to the Learn to Code With Me podcast on the following platforms:
If you have a few extra minutes, please rate and review the show in iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show. I would really, really appreciate it!
Special thanks to this episode’s sponsors
Techmeme Ride Home: The Techmeme Ride Home podcast brings you up to speed on the day’s top tech news, as well as the top tweets and conversations around those news stories, in just 20 minutes a day. Search Ride Home in your podcast app and subscribe to the Techmeme Ride Home podcast today.
Interview Cake: Interview Cake is a tool that helps you practice technical interview questions, so you can land your first—or next—job in tech. When you join Interview Cake, you get over 50 hours of technical interview practice questions. To find out more and get 20% off, go to learntocodewith.me/cake.