Thursday, March 01, 2007

Re: Security Mentoring

Richard Bejtlich of TaoSecurity posted a response to this post, all of which got me thinking about how I got where I am today in my career, and how I expect to continue "forward".

To sum it up, I know I am where I am today because of two things:

- I continue to learn about my job (currently IT Security)
- Listening to people further along in their careers than I

Longer version:

#1: Life-long learning.
It's a cliche, I know, but it's a cliche because it's true. I spend many hours reading documentation, white papers, email discussion lists, etc. about the topics that pertain to my career and interests. I do my best to "teach myself" about new (or old) things that I feel I need and want to learn, and a very important part of this learning is breaking things, and learning how to fix them (all hail Google). I know there is a taboo about making mistakes, but honestly I'm a better employee because I make mistakes and learn from them, not because I avoid them by avoiding work. Regardless, continuing to stay "in learning mode" has been, by far, the most important and beneficial thing I have done to advance my career. Bar none.


#2: Pay attention to those around you, and the steps they took in their career paths.
People generally like to talk about themselves and their accomplishments, it's in our nature (why do you think I'm writing this? ;) ). In most situations, you are going to have someone you work for (read, "the boss" but it could also be anyone you consider a mentor), and in some situations you will have someone less senior working with you or possibly directly for you. Assuming you haven't reached what you consider is the pinnacle of your career (and only you can decide that), the position that you work for would be a next logical step in your career. Ask your boss about their career path to get a sense of what steps that person took to get there, but just as important, what steps they didn't take. Listen to what he or she says, but also listen to what they don't say. You can glean interesting, and potentially valuable, information from them. Not all bosses are equal, though, so learn to pick out the good bits from the bad.

"Deep thoughts, by Rich Fifarek"

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