Have you always had an interest in technology but struggle with where to begin in order to turn that interest into a meaningful and successful career? Taking risks to pursue these interests, building a trusted network of peers within your industry, and seizing valuable opportunities as they arise can work to your advantage.
Zoë Rose shares how technology, learned through Networking Academy, helped to empower her during a time in her life in which she struggled to recognize her self-worth. She followed an unconventional path which led her to a career in technology and security spanning a decade. Currently, she is a Cybersecurity expert who travels the world to speak at events.
Believing in Yourself
Many years ago, Zoë was in an abusive relationship that left her feeling vulnerable and worthless. “It made connecting with people massively difficult and destroyed my confidence.” In fact, one of the reasons Zoë got into networking and technology is because it provided her with a refuge to hide away in a server room and tinker with the devices. “I loved it and it allowed me to feel needed. It allowed me to feel like I could do something. I could not relate to people, but I could tell the routers and switches…to do something and most of the time, they would do it.” Through this experience, Zoë was able to regain more and more confidence in herself.
“If you are starting your career in IT and networking, the biggest thing you can do is join communities. If you have an opportunity to connect with your peers, with people in your industry or out, it is only going to benefit you.”
Pursuing your Interests and Education
Zoë possessed an early interest in technology and was self-taught. She first held a position as an IT manager then decided to go back to school to pursue her education. While attending Red River College in Canada to complete her CCNA certification, Zoë joined the Networking Academy. Through the coursework, Zoë learned how enjoyable networking was. “Networking is brilliant! It is proper ridiculous! Half the time it feels like it does not work…but it is so much fun. And actually, the problems and the trouble shooting―that is one of the best parts.” Her participation in Networking Academy also allowed Zoë to believe that she had the skills and knowledge to work within the industry.
Seizing Opportunities and Connecting with Others
After enrolling in school, Zoë decided to start her own Managed Service Provider (MSP) business, providing technical support for several small to medium-sized enterprises, including being a part of the team who launched the infrastructure for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Instead of attending her college graduation ceremony, Zoë hopped on an airplane traveling to San Diego, CA as a member of the Cisco NetAcad Dream Team where she had the opportunity to help build the networking infrastructure for the Cisco Live 2015 conference. “I am still friends with people today, that I was a part of that team with. I am still friends with the organizers and all the wonderful people I connected with at the conference, so it was a brilliant opportunity for my career.”
Through connections she made on Twitter during the Cisco Live conference, Zoë caught the attention of a company in the United Kingdom and was offered a position. So, she moved from Canada to the United Kingdom to begin her new role. Zoë was also selected to be a part of the Cisco Champion Program. “Essentially, I get to chat with brilliant industry and community experts… it is over 300 people around the world who are just cool. They are absolutely brilliant, really good at what they do and I have never had a problem that they have not either seen, know where to start looking for, or have experienced dealing with similar situations. It is a really awesome community and very supportive as well.”
While she was in college, Zoë also connected with the local hackerspace. Colleagues who were part of the hackerspace would offer their support in helping her answer questions related to her homework or resolve situations related to her MSP business. “These are people who are experienced, wonderful, and interested in just building the knowledge and building the community. They made it fun to troubleshoot. They helped me. I helped other people. And that collaboration is so vital to our industry.”
“If you are starting your career in IT, networking, and even security, the biggest thing you can do is join communities.” Zoë attributes her ability to move to the United Kingdom and more recently to Ireland for her current role to the connections she made online. “If you have an opportunity to connect with your peers, with people in your industry or out, it is only going to benefit you.” Zoë’s latest role consists of building solutions that make for a better and safer world. She believes that collaboration is essential to accomplishing her mission. Thus, it is critical to “always connect.”