Originally posted on my first blog 14/09/2020
When these words turn up in your inbox it feels like a bit of a gut punch. Especially if it is for something you REALLY wanted and put a lot of effort into. I am sure everyone has had rejections in their career, in any industry, they are to be expected. And although it doesn’t feel great, the important thing is to look at the positives and learn from the experience.
A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.
At the start of August, the Cyber Mentor made an announcement that he would be offering a scholarship for an aspiring hacker. The recipient would get 10 one on one sessions with Heath, 6 months Try Hack Me membership, career advice/resume review, access to all TCM Security training and $1500 towards a certification of the recipients choice. Now I can be quite reserved and shy at times and I rarely put myself outside of my comfort zone but I didn’t hesitate with this, I jumped at the chance to apply as I saw what a great opportunity this was.
I completed the application, which had questions like “How would this scholarship affect you?” and “What sets you apart from everyone else?”. Usually in situations like this I would fall into the trap of saying what I thought they wanted to hear (bearing in mind my last application/interview process was 10+ years ago), however with this I made the decision to just be me through and through. So the answers just flowed out, I guess because I am genuinely excited about the Cyber Security industry and how my skills and background fit in. And it worked.
They received over 2000 applications and I got notification that I had been shortlisted into the top 10. I think Heath reviewed the applications first, then a blind panel reviewed them, then they compared notes and got the list down to 10. Safe to say I was buzzing! My heart did sink to my stomach when I saw that there was a link to book in an interview with The Cyber Mentor himself. Very few things make me as nervous as an interview. Sweaty palms, heart thumping, dizzy head, can’t talk type of nervous. I. Hate. It.
I don’t know what it is about interviews specifically that make me feel like this, I would rather stand in front of a room and do a presentation than do a one on one interview (the only thing that could make an interview worse for me is if it involved role-play. “Sell me this pen” type stuff :/) This was a hurdle to overcome and I knew I had to do it if I wanted to get anywhere in this industry. So I booked the first available slot on the calendar and waited.
Needless to say I felt like I was a babbling wreck who couldn’t talk and didn’t get my points across. I hadn’t taken any notes about what I wanted to say as I wanted it to be genuine and not rehearsed. In hindsight though, this might have been a mistake and some bullet points could have helped. It was all over in a flash and I barely remember anything that was discussed. My wife assures my I sounded fine and did manage to talk well (but she could be biased lol).
I was the first interview so I had a long and nerve-wracking wait for the decision (the downside of being too keen). A decision was expected by 7th September but Heath said they were having trouble narrowing the selection down so it was delayed. Of course I was disappointed, I still am a bit as this was a huge opportunity and I got so close. It wasn’t even about the certification money (although that would have been very helpful), it was about getting guidance and mentorship from someone who has been through it. I think that is more valuable than the money.
There are loads of positives I can take from this though and that is what I am going to try and focus on…..
Heath is forming a “cohort” with the other finalists where we can get together and help each other, learn form each other etc. I am waiting on more detail on this, due to start in October, but this is most definitely another opportunity for me to take. I was a finalist. There must have been something about me or my application that stood out. I was completely honest and just spoke form the heart in my application so it feels good to know this was recognised. I managed to do an interview and didn’t pass out. I put myself outside my comfort zone in the pursuit of something that is important to me. As I said before, I rarely put myself out there if I don’t have to. I could have easily just kept my head down and kept doing Udemy and YouTube course quietly by myself, but I didn’t. I went for it. And if another opportunity comes up, I will again.
So yeah, that’s that. I look forward to seeing what the cohort brings and what I can bring to it. I am still working through the Networking course on Udemy but I have also taken the plunge and signed up to eLearn Security PTSv4 course, working towards the eJPT certification. This is a beginner level course and certification and I hadn’t planned on jumping in to a cert but I needed to start doing something technical and hacking-esque, I was beginning to burn out by solely focusing on ports, protocols and sub-net masks. I have seen great reviews about the eLearn Security courses and there was a couple of money off vouchers going just now so I went for it. I will do a separate blog more in depth once I have got past the intro modules, so far though, it looks great.
All the best