Early Determination: 'Jenny from the SOC'
Shares Her Path to Success
Cyber Ops training and certification help Jenny Guay bound up the career ladder
Jenny Guay had always been fascinated with computers and technology, and she knew of Cisco’s leadership, so she enrolled in networking courses by grade eleven, showing focus and confidence beyond her years. Her initiative turned out to be life-changing and keeps opening new horizons for her today. Currently she works as a security operations center (SOC) operator. The title "Jenny from the SOC" is a play on Jennifer Lopez’s 2002 hit, "Jenny from the Block." But Jenny has used her own unique talents and dreams to launch a promising career.
Following her high school graduation, Jenny the computer enthusiast was off and running, performing help desk work at the municipal office in her home town. The office was impressed, she recalls, that she already had a CCNA certification on her resume.
After working with the municipal office for a year and a half, Jenny entered the university. Here, completing a computer science major gave her a firm footing on a technology career path filled with expanding opportunities.
A New Job Points Jenny in a New Direction
Supplied now with that important degree, Jenny took on her first post-graduation job, again at a help desk, but this time for a large credit union. Here, she was able to see how both security and networking fit into a major workplace. This exposure gave her the determination to branch into security.
At this point, though, the successful student ran into the first stiff headwind of her fast-blossoming career. Gaining a job in security, she discovered, was far from a snap. Most positions in security demanded prior experience in that field, which Jenny didn’t yet have. Just as she was re-evaluating her options, Cisco reappeared—whether by destiny, coincidence, or luck—and announced its Global Cybersecurity Scholarship Program (since retired) leading to a CCNA Cyber Ops certification. Jenny didn’t wait for an engraved invitation to jump on that opportunity. She became one of the first people to complete the course and pass the CCNA Cyber Ops exam, earning her certification.
An Unexpected Opportunity Arises
Midway through the course, Jenny actually found out about a job at another company, working as an operator at its SOC. Busy as she was, she made time for the interview.
The employer was impressed with how well-informed Jenny was. But her good fortune in having the subject matter at her fingertips was no surprise to Jenny: it was exactly what she had just been studying in the Cisco course!
After Jenny landed the position, she immediately started putting her CCNA Cyber Ops knowledge to work. The guidance she gained from the course helped her—in near real time—to determine what was happening on the job. For example, she was able to decipher network packet capture just by looking at a raw log and intuiting what was probably taking place.
Jenny has found herself in an ideal career position. "I love the hunt for information—figuring out where a threat came from, what’s behind it, and who’s behind it,” she says. “The whole investigation process I find really exciting and enjoyable."
Now, as Jenny considers obtaining future certifications, this job experience is making her next choices easy ones: gaining her CCNA Security and CCNP Security certifications will allow her to expand her usefulness in her current role while positioning herself for a promotion.
To this end, Jenny finds that the numerous resources that the Cisco Learning Network makes available are a real boon: study groups, discussion boards, webinars, and training videos covering various security topics.
Sharing Success Tips
Jenny has developed a best practice for herself of printing off the exam objectives from the Cisco Learning Network website and using those as a checklist to identify areas that she is struggling with. She can easily see which topics she is already confident about—setting out any weak areas for extra attention. She also looks for study groups on the Cisco Learning Network, which she discovered has a great CCNA Cyber Ops Study Group with many people contributing.
For those just starting out in the IT networking field, Jenny recommends preparing for a Cisco certification. "Cisco certification shows an employer that you have time management and project management skills, as well as the ability to complete a project that you start. It looks impressive on a resume that you were able to study for something challenging and then continue on to pass the certification exam," she says.
Jenny’s career so far already shows a pattern of assuming new responsibilities and rising to challenges. Her growing expertise and experience in cybersecurity can take her in fascinating career directions as the demand for these skills continues to grow.