Spark to a Flame: How Carlo R. Caught on to the Growing Field of Cybersecurity and Where It Led Him Next
After years of working in various roles across IT and watching how it’s changed over the past two decades, Carlo R. discovered his true passion: Cybersecurity. Read on to hear firsthand about his road to The Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte, and the journey that followed.
Tell me a bit about your educational and professional background. Were you always interested in technology?
I got my first computer in 1998. I was amazed by AOL and the way it functioned. I decided to enroll in a technical college to study computers and other electronics. I received numerous IT certificates and joined the Cisco Academy to learn all about Cisco devices and networking. In short, yes. I’ve always been interested in technology. It’s forever evolving and challenging me — there’s never a boring moment.
What specifically led you to pursue the cybersecurity boot camp?
I’ve worked as a contractor in the IT field across a variety of industries, from hospitals to manufacturing, government agencies to corporations. Being in those environments — and reading the news — you hear about breaches that cost businesses billions of dollars annually, and cyberattacks that put people’s own homes and personal information at risk. It all caused me to think: who is keeping our personal information safe from hackers and other threats? There’s a shortage of IT security professionals, and I wanted to be part of the action. I terminated my contract and enrolled in The Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte.
How was it adjusting to the workload and day-to-day demands of the boot camp?
Even though I was coming from an IT background, I quickly discovered how much I didn’t know about IT security and cybersecurity. The workload was incredibly challenging, but it was fun. My instructor was awesome. He had a cybersecurity background, and he provided a ton of exciting challenges and real-world demonstrations. The TAs were a huge help as well, and they were extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter. Overall, the learning environment was great — I thought the learning on demand platform was particularly helpful, because it gave me the ability to go back and practice my lessons in real-time.
How was the group dynamic? Was there a project that you were particularly proud of?
The whole class dynamic was really healthy. Everyone respected each other and got along well, there wasn’t any drama. We did a bunch of group projects, but the most exciting one was a live demonstration. We had to present a specific piece of ransomware to the whole class — and explain every aspect of the item and its functions.
What are you up to now, and what’s next?
I am currently working as a junior security engineer for a mid-sized company. I’m applying everything I learned in the boot camp to my new job. The program enabled me to really think about security in the broader sense, and break down a hacker’s end goal. In addition to applying what I learned in [the] boot camp, I’m also getting familiar with many new tools — Cisco AMP, Umbrella, Firepower, O365 Security, and Azure. It’s challenging, but I love it. In the future, I hope to enter the governance field, a really interesting and important subset of IT and cybersecurity.
How would you sum up your boot camp experience?
One word: Awesome.