In early 2018, Jackie Baran took advantage of Free TAFE and enrolled in a Certificate IV in Cyber Security at Box Hill Institute. She said, "I was already working full time in IT support and saw this as an excellent opportunity to upskill and break into the industry without having to step away from working and gaining further experience."
Since graduating in November 2020, Jackie has picked up a job as an Associate Security Analyst with a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP), a company that offers security as a service, ensuring your systems are safe, secure and compliant. It is an engaging role and rapidly increasing Jackie's cyber knowledge. She said, “This has me working within a security operations centre, using the latest technologies and tools to monitor and investigate alerts in multiple client environments."
Jackie has studied at TAFE before and is impressed that Free TAFE students get the same access to teachers, equipment, and facilities as full fee-paying students. She said, "It's an excellent initiative for those who would like to upskill or jump into a career change, and I'm grateful I decided to enrol."
Although some elements of the course were challenging, Jackie said the teachers had experience in their subject field, were ready for questions, provided good feedback and helped students understand what is vital in the industry.
The cyber security course has many hands-on elements, which is a key reason Jackie chose to study at TAFE. She said, “I feel the industry is increasingly preferring TAFE graduates over undergraduates for entry-level positions."
Students have access to the latest Cisco routers and switches, NetLab, a real-world infrastructure available 24/7 through a Web interface, Kali Linux and Metasploit, with countless labs and training exercises. Jackie said, "I was almost sad to graduate as it means I no longer can access this."
Being able to demonstrate skills and actively using what she had learned gave Jackie an edge when it came to applying for cyber security jobs. Her advice to new students is to, "Make the most of all the resources available, NetLab especially and, if you're completely brand new to IT, do some extra studying around networking and Python."
Cyber security is a diverse industry and Jackie is looking forward to where it could take her. She has a strong interest in threat hunting and digital forensics and would like to become more involved in these areas in the future. We wish her all the best on her cyber journey.