You are currently viewing Feeling stuck in a major you don’t like?  This cyber pro promises you, it’s OK to fail

Feeling stuck in a major you don’t like? This cyber pro promises you, it’s OK to fail

Tyler Ramdass knows that the starting point of your professional exploration is not always an indicator of where you will end up.

Ramdass is a junior cybersecurity specialist at Saber Systems, Inc., a Warminster-based technology solutions company serving national defense, federal civilian and commercial spaces. In this role, he works on cybersecurity solutions for the commercial sector, including compliance assessment, vulnerability and risk detection.

Born to parents who immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, Ramdass grew up a short SEPTA ride from Philadelphia to Abington and has spent most of his life in the area. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from University of Arcadia and a master’s degree in computer security from Johns Hopkins University.

But it took a few wrong turns to get to where he is now. Below, discover Philadelphia Campus interview with Ramdass about her career so far, what it’s been like to work in her role and her advice for those pursuing a similar path.

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Some people know what they want to do right from the start. Did you know right away that you wanted to work in IT, and later in cybersecurity? Did the trip go smoothly?

Honestly, I was about as far from knowing what I wanted to do as humanly possible. In high school, I went back and forth between so many different paths in my head, including medicine, writing, and law. Eventually, I returned to medicine. So I went into engineering, more specifically bio-engineering. I ended up going to a really good engineering school – and although I liked the people, I found out that the major wasn’t for me. I didn’t do well and my motivation was exhausted, but I ended up holding out the whole school year to see if I could turn things around (not the wisest decision), but I eventually ended up leaving that school.

At that time, I didn’t know what to do. I realized that the computer classes I took in high school were something I always enjoyed and would be happy to study more of. Fast forward to the next semester, I started at Arcadia University and immediately knew I had made the right choice. I went from a pretty mediocre engineering student to a straight-up computer science student, and I hadn’t even learned cybersecurity yet!

I wanted [mention] this is to ensure that students know that it is okay to fail. It’s okay not knowing what you want to do, and it’s okay if your trip isn’t going smoothly. What’s important is that you get up and keep fighting. Learn from your mistakes and do your best – you will surprise yourself. If my freshman knew he would go from being a pretty bad engineering student to graduating with a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins, he would be in complete shock.

Tyler Ramdass holds his Johns Hopkins degree. (Courtesy picture)

Your bachelor’s degree in computer science could have taken you down several different paths. What drew you to a career in cybersecurity?

I discovered cybersecurity during my undergraduate studies. I took a course called Introduction to Network Security. From there, I really fell in love with the material, thanks in large part to my teacher’s teaching style and hands-on lessons, Dr Vitaly Ford. Later, he became a mentor to me, helping me discover that cybersecurity is truly my passion. This same mentorship is also what brought me to Saber Systems, as he was the one who introduced me to the company.

What does a typical day look like as a junior cybersecurity specialist at Saber Systems?

A typical day at Saber Systems really depends on the projects I work on. Every day I can develop policies, procedures and plans for a client, implement cybersecurity awareness courses, or write a report and presentation to discuss how to improve a company’s cybersecurity posture. customer. During my time here, I had the chance to work on many different types of projects, from compliance to penetration testing to vulnerability scanning, and it helped diversify my skills. The sky really has been the limit, and Saber is always ready to help you achieve what you want to achieve.

While studying at Arcadia University, you also completed an internship at Saber. What advice do you have for students interested in turning their internship into a full-time job?

It’s really important to go out there every day and be the best version of yourself that you can be. Not every day will be great, but do your best. Also, try to be part of the community within your organization. Get to know people, whether they are in your department or not. It’s obviously more difficult with the pandemic and working remotely, but it’s not impossible! Truly being part of the team and showing that you are valuable to the company and its employees is very helpful. At least, that’s what worked for me.

Tyler Ramdass with family. (Courtesy picture)

You worked at Saber part-time while pursuing a master’s degree. How did you balance that? Any advice for other graduate students who are also working while pursuing higher education?

Balancing work with graduate school was a difficult task, but admittedly, the timing of the pandemic has made things a little more manageable. The first two semesters of my program were conducted remotely, so I was able to live from home and work from home and was able to switch from my home computer to my work computer very quickly. For the last semester of my graduate studies, I moved to Baltimore [where Johns Hopkins is based] and I was able to take my work with me. During my studies, I was fortunate to have obtained a scholarship that covered tuition and living expenses, which allowed me to reduce my hours to a manageable level. It was very important, however, that school came first – a view shared by myself, my family and Saber Systems.

My work experience during graduate school is probably a little different from other experiences due to the inherently user-friendly nature of my remote work. I think it’s really important to strike that balance between work and school. I went to school full time, but many schools, including Johns Hopkins, offer degrees specifically for professionals that can fit your schedule.

Remember to take care of yourself and work smart. Make time to do things that can help you relax or unwind (for me, that might be writing, drawing, listening to music, or playing a video game). Advanced degrees can be overwhelming and hard work, and this is often exacerbated by working at the same time. Manage your time well and take care of yourself – that’s a lot!

Tyler Ramdass. (Courtesy picture)

Of all the things you’ve done to prepare for a career in cybersecurity (courses, internships, joining organizations, advanced degrees), what has prepared you the most for success?

I think my courses and internships have honestly prepared me the most for success, including my undergraduate and graduate programs. My undergraduate courses were a broader experience in computer science, but it still laid the foundation for a love of learning and a desire to work hard in everything I do. My graduate courses really focused on the different areas of cybersecurity and developed a strong and varied skill set that makes me feel confident to take on challenges.

In addition, my internship showed me different areas of work in cybersecurity, from the political side to the more technical and practical side. Working on both sides really allowed me to become a complete person. A lot of tech people seem to shy away from the political/writing side, but I think it can be just as fun!

If you had to offer one piece of advice to a student wishing to pursue a career in cybersecurity, what would it be?

There’s so much I want to say here, but I think it boils down to keeping an open mind and trying different things seriously. Cybersecurity is a huge field with different areas that, at first glance, are not alike and can seem daunting when introduced to you. Give them an honest try, and you might find that the thing you were afraid of is actually the most fun part for you! Explore cybersecurity and you might be surprised at what you can work on.

For example, during my graduate studies, I enrolled in a space systems cybersecurity course despite knowing nothing about space. In the end, it was one of the most fun, interesting, and engaging courses I’ve ever taken, and now space cybersecurity is something I’m very interested in. Who would have guessed?

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