Saturday, 24 October 2015

Four years wiser

It's been over four years since I last posted to this blog. Since then my skills, knowledge and career have taken some very interesting directions.

Currently I am working as a Network Architect and loving every ounce of it. I get to be creative in a truly enterprise environment, and due to the nature of my employer I also get to do stuff that helps people. Pretty mega huh?

So anyway. I figured this update wouldn't be yet another women in tech rant... We all know there are BIG cultural problems there, we can't fix those in a day.

However recently, in the news in the UK, its transpired that a large service provider (TalkTalk) has had reams of sensitive client (the unassuming publics) data stolen, and much of it published online by yet-another-threatening-jihadist-group. Sigh.

Queue the calls across the conglomerate of business leaders to 'clamp down' on crime, calls for our policing and judicial systems to get gnarlier on the script kiddies. Another sigh.

Security is a beautiful part of technology. In fact it's probably my favourite. Its dynamic, and it forces us to be creative. The people who constantly poke and prod and push those envelopes are the people who will ALWAYS be one step ahead. Corporations will never win by 'fighting cyber criminals' because they will never know enough about them to be able to get ahead. So what do they do? They blanket the geeks, punish the clever guys because they don't understand the difference between the NEED for creative thinking and crime. There is a huge difference between some jaded religious nut downloading some scripts and running it against some insecure servers to steal data and someone who is able to use their wit to push beyond what technology is out there, that guy isn't a thief - in fact, we NEED that guy.

TalkTalk are doing just this. Instead of admitting that their security was simply not up to scratch - they are dishing out that blame.

I don't think what the 'hackers' did was right, at all. Innocent people should never suffer by this, it is not how any true hacker would operate.

However what I think these corporations should be doing is innovating - get hold of some clever guys, test their security over and over and over. Brutally rip it apart so it can be fixed better next time. Review their staff, a large percentage of corporate leaks come from social engineering and internal staff - often its not technology that's the struggle, its the mind. Who do we trust?!

So there's my rant. The world is evolving and with it our security. We all need to take the right level of responsibility for that. :)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Keep at it kids

So my first post is going to be about something that's fairly personal to me. Hopefully it may help some people, for the pure fact that when you're a kid you make silly choices, you don't know what you want and you get to a point where you think all you've made is mistakes.  What I would like to put across is despite the nightmare of enduring the end of education, and being released into a frightening and lonely professional world - there is hope, and if you put your mind to it you can achieve your dreams! 

Incidentally, as this is a long post, I'm going to break it up with images that really don't bear any meaning to the context of the article, who doesn't like aesthetics right?

Classic geek chic?

The technology industry is hugely competitive, whether you're 50 with a masters and countless years of experience under your belt, a school or university graduate with a thirst for something big and exciting - it is hard, it's always hard to get your foot into any doorway. For example, when I moved to London in the UK I'd already had 6 years experience in my chosen profession, and had that inaugural "step on the ladder to success". I applied for a total of 375 jobs in less than a month. In total I heard back from only one of those, for which I did a series of interviews only to be told that I was considered overqualified for the role. The job I did eventually land was a response to a classified I'd posted on Gumtree about myself (a last chance clutch at straws I didn't think existed!), and it's been one of the most rewarding and educating experiences I've had to date (I am still working there).

If you have the chance, and the head on your shoulders to choose the right course, to continue to a higher education while you're still young - consider it at least, it can be a struggle without but please for the love of God don't do a degree in something you're not really interested in. I chose to leave school at 15, after obtaining a clean run of GCSE's - none of which were in IT, went to college to do media for three months and dropped out - I hated it! So then I began working in offshore finance doing account exec. & relationship management jobs. This left me generally deflated with no hope of doing anything which truly stimulated me. I persevered, and eventually at 17 was given a chance to work for a very small computer reseller firm, this didn't last long - which was fortunate as the people I was working for were part of a cult (my life does take random turns when it likes to!). Thus I went back into finance.

Yes, it is a Geek Barbie.
As you can imagine I was probably feeling like I'd gone back to square one. When you're young you expect everything on your plate and if that doesn't happen it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Again I persevered, this is key if you want to give yourself a chance in the technology industry. Eventually, after doing quite well in finance, I made a break for it and began re-applying for technology starter roles, support jobs, consultancies etc. By chance I was offered an interview for a consultancy and was finally taken on, this was my first true step to building my career. One key stroke of luck for me in this scenario was the fact that I was female, it was made clear to me that this worked in my favour as I was client-facing - remember this, girlgeeks, there is nothing wrong with using your gender to benefit your success - as long as you remain moral and ethical.

From there the only way for me has been up, a fruitful seven years after I was given that consultancy role I'm on an upward slope working as an Infrastructure Manager for a popular trading technology firm.

Now, the nitty-gritty. I'm only 24. This means I have 9 years experience in employment, 7 of which are in technology. Some people will tell you experience is best, some will tell you that you need a degree, I cannot tell you which is best.

Some companies won't even look at your CV if you don't have a degree, so having a higher education under your belt will certainly work in your favour but when you do finally graduate - you can't be impatient, you will have to start work either interning or doing menial 2nd or 1st line support - your career path will start of slowly and you will get frustrated.

Some companies won't look at your CV unless you've had at least 5 years experience in your field. This has worked for me, and comes across very well when networking - which you must always strive to do, especially if you don't have a fancy certificate to show for yourself - get a LinkedIn profile, beef it up.

Personally, I would love a degree. Do I wish I'd done it after leaving school? No, because with my varied experience, perseverance and confidence in what I do I can afford to do distance learning, and I know now with my self and work educated knowledge a degree won't be so tough.

What I will say is that if you haven't got a degree, and you're feeling like giving up on your dreams - don't. All you need is willpower (and this internet, this is your everything!) and a healthy dose of confidence. You don't need a degree to know about something, there are countless free resources out there to get you on your way. This is a huge planet, there are always technology jobs, for which 100's of people will always apply for - the laws of probability dictate that if you apply for enough of those jobs, eventually you will get the one you need to let your inner geek blossom.

Good luck, strut your stuff but most of all - don't give up :)

Plusone sheblog!

Well, as I already have a DJ/Personal blog, I thought it a good idea to perhaps start posting about something a little more relative to my life.

She++ is my obviously cliché name for my new geek-blog, I'll cover everything from everyday technology rants, stuff about working in the industry, a LOT of stuff about being a young woman in the industry, tutorials and soforth.

I've worked in IT for a total of almost 7 years now, it's had it's ups and downs but I love it, hopefully I can share some of that love and for those of you feeling a little deflated with how things are in the world of working in IT - maybe I can rekindle some hope.

Anyway, over and out for now.