Back in March, I started working at a fiber ISP called Lumos. Lumos is a reasonably sized ISP, and is one of the top providers for fiber internet in both Virginia and North Carolina, with expansion into South Carolina currently underway. I got a role that it seems a lot of people who get their start in the cybersecurity field get, that of Tier 1 Tech Support. The official title of my position is “Network Support Specialist”, but my tasks are the same tasks you would find in a normal entry level technical support role — answering calls, creating and responding to tickets, troubleshooting devices, and collaborating with teammates to solve problems.
Getting a role in the tech industry really does something to you if you’ve never worked in it before. I don’t think that my experience before I got hired differs that much from many who want to get their foot in the door with cybersecurity. We watch the YouTube channels and ask ourselves “What can I do to increase my chances of getting a cybersecurity role?” We spin up VMs and make homelabs and follow tutorials in videos. We read news and make connections, and do all sorts of stuff, but we do it in the hopes that we’ll get a job. I get the impression that this is the case for a LOT of people.
At least I think that’s how it goes. I see the same advice given under the same circumstances, and it all seems to revolve around educating yourself, doing projects, and attempting to land that first role.
I can say that everything they tell you about networking, reaching out to hiring managers on LinkedIn, and making sure they get your resume is important. At least, in my case, that’s how the process went for me. Funny thing is, all of the things they listed as requirements in the job description don’t really apply to the degree that I thought they would. What drew me to the position was the requirement that the applicant be knowledgeable of DHCP, DNS, and subnetting. From the time I was given the interview, from the time that I finally sat in front of the panel for my second round, I brushed up on my DNS, DHCP, and subnetting knowledge. I even made a video that I posted where I set up a Windows 2016 server to do DHCP, DNS, and routing. All they really wanted was someone who they didn’t have to explain DHCP and DNS to. So far, the only time DHCP has come up is when I have to manually input a pre-configured subnet into a certain element of a customer’s internet equipment.
Being in the tech industry has given me room to breathe, and what’s interesting is how I feel less inclined to kill myself pursuing cybersecurity topics. By all means, I want to land a role as a SOC analyst one day, and my project list is as full as it was before I got hired, but a lot of the tension that was there before I got the job was simply related to that — wanting to get into the tech industry. Now that I’ve got my foot in the door, it feels a lot more relaxed. Besides, I could make a decent living for myself working at this place for 3 years while I pursue YouTube content, homelabs, and certifications. What’s missing now is the anxiety of not working in tech.
While this isn’t a cybersecurity position, I can see how what I do on the job now can prepare me for a role in something like a SOC. While a SOC will have far more pressure attached to it, I’m getting experience creating, responding to, and working with ticketing systems, as well as experience developing my soft skills, which are crucial in the tech industry. If anything I think this job will do more for my cybersecurity career in learning how to interact with others than any technical endeavors I may pursue.
I’m incredibly happy working at Lumos, even if I’m simply responding to technical support queries and doing light troubleshooting of consumer-grade networking equipment. I’m making connections that will be valuable in the future, and getting immersed in a fast paced environment where you have to make quick decisions to solve problems.