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Zak Choudhery - Determination and belief lead to success

How did you get into cybersecurity?

My journey into cybersecurity is a testament to the power of adaptability and determination. With a BA in public administration in hand, I embarked on my career as a project coordinator at a bustling data center. The exposure to the intricate world of data management and security, ignited my fascination for safeguarding digital technologies and assets. Recognizing the need for specialized knowledge, I courageously pursued to an accelerated bootcamp in cybersecurity, honing my skills in a remarkably short span. Now, as a teaching assistant for the very same program that transformed me, I guide aspiring professionals along the path I once tread. The culmination of my efforts led me to a fulfilling role, as an IT security specialist at a Non Profit Organization, where every day, I actively contribute to creating a safer online realm for all. My journey underscores that passion, continuous learning, and to how seizing opportunities can shape a remarkable career, no matter where you begin.

Tell us about your journey, challenges, people, programs or companies who helped you.

I had two great professors, that really guided me through the initial starting process, where they helped with my interview preps, formatting my resumes, and just overall sharing words of wisdom. 

More importantly the knowledge and experience they shared, was able to guide my foundation in the explanations, of what the job requirements where actually looking for. A lot of times, the lack of experience and years of experience, were something that people, were worried about considering the amount of knowledge one should possess when dealing with multiple styles of cybersecurity related incidents. Continuing to demonstrate, how to learn things right away and familiarize yourself as much as you can when faced with a situation, is vital in making contributions. 

What do you believe others need to do to succeed in cybersecurity?

Invest your time into learning as much as you can, whenever you can. Even if you have not completed the certification process or have the desired education, if you study enough material ,that will be key in your journey. And also to make sure you share your work, and knowledge with others. What good is all that knowledge, if it’s only kept inside of you!

Tell us something interesting about yourself and how that makes you who you are.

I believe that kindness, empathy and respect will get you where you need to go. I think it is important to be patient with everyone, regardless of your knowledge set, or skill gaps. What you learn form others,  can teach you something new.

Work hard, never doubt yourself and keep trying. If you don’t get it the first time, keep trying. It took me over 25 interviews, and people telling me no. I was hurt, upset, gave up so many times that I lost count. But I kept on trying, even when I felt hopeless. 

I wish I could go back and tell my earlier self ,not to feel like that, because that just made things harder, and I think that is why it took even longer then it should have. Never give up!