Marissa: Tell us your story on how you got into technology?
Lydia: I have been interested in technology for a long time- it was not until I wrote a paper on cybersecurity in grad school that I knew this was what I wanted to do as a profession. I thought the hacking and forensic techniques detailed in my research were absolutely fascinating and wanted to better understand the how and why and to apply these techniques more effectively. What I also learned though was that this side of cybersecurity is extremely technical and that you cannot secure any environment until you understand how it works. So, I spent a few years climbing the ranks as a helpdesk technician and later joined the Dataprise Cyber team this past January. I have learned a metric ton since!
Marissa: Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do?
Lydia: The pull was always there. There are so many cool things about technology- it always changes, there are a ton of really interesting problems to solve, and in today’s world it really is the backbone of a modern economy. However, I was really intimidated by the technical field growing up. I did not have close relationships with any female cyber engineers or computer technologists and had a hard time seeing myself in the role. Also, a lot of people told me that you had to be good at math or have a technical degree to be good with computers and it turns out that is not necessarily true!
Marissa: How long have you been with Dataprise?
Lydia: 9 months!
Marissa: Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
Lydia: Typically, my day is split between monitoring our data feeds for alerts and working on projects. The alerts could be anything from a strange email rule that someone has configured toa possible DDOS attack or a change to a firewall which might not be authorized, to give a few examples. Projects are somewhat varied. Lately, I have been doing a lot of firewall reviews, which involves looking at how a firewall is configured and identifying traffic rules that can be detrimental to a company’s security and explaining how to fix them. Fascinating stuff!
Marissa: What is one piece of advice you would give to young women looking to get into the technology field?
Lydia: Girl, you can do it! Computers are nothing more than expensive LEGOs- there is no magic or secret sauce that is out of your reach just because you are a woman.
Marissa: What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Lydia: I would say to get yourself a good support system. Some people can be cruel when you are just starting out and trying to find your footing. Seek out technical women’s groups, make friends with other women in tech, and get yourself a good sounding board for both technical and personal issues. Some people will tell you that you cannot do it, that you do not have a technical mind, that you would be happier doing something else: ignore them! Only you get to decide what makes you happy and what makes you fulfilled. You are responsible for your own success. If there is a skill or a certification you think you are going to need, go get it! Do not wait for someone to tell you to get after it. Be your own best motivator.
Marissa: What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
Lydia: The best part is that the vast majority of the people in this field are genuinely happy that I am here and are psyched to see more women emerging in this field. A lot of employers are realizing that so-called “soft skills” like empathy, communication, etc., are critical to a good team, and women can really shine in these areas.
Marissa: What is it that you enjoy most about your current job at Dataprise?
Lydia: Dataprise has been so incredibly supportive of me as a technologist and as a person. I really appreciate that I am checked in with regularly and not just as an employee but as a human. I am currently working on getting my OSCP, which is a certification that I thought I would have to wait years to get. But here I am working on it within my first year at Dataprise! I also work non-traditional hours, and Dataprise has been great about keeping me in the loop and accommodating my schedule.
Marissa: Where do you see yourself going from here?
Lydia: I want to be a Subject Matter Expert! After I finish my OSCP, I am looking at completing a second Master’s in Secure Computing Architecture. I may want to continue up the Offensive Security certification chain; we will see how the OSCP goes! Beyond that, it is difficult to say. We could be looking at business-ready quantum computing environments by the time my master’s is done, so maybe that is next. The neat thing about the technology field as an engineer is that you never stop learning because the technology never stops changing!