Security Engineering, Software Development, and Me.

After twenty years of slaving away in the darkened PC deployment rooms of yore, hours spent repacking software for Enterprise Wide rollout’s, building and managing VDI Environments, managing anti-virus and more…the title above is a combination of words I never thought I’d see in conjunction to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my years as a high tier desktop administrator, but I spent enough time in that field to leave me hardened and jaded.  Frankly, it wasn’t much fun anymore, and the constant looking-down-the-nose that came from anybody else working on more specialized areas because I was ‘just a desktop guy’, grew tiresome.

But, all that’s behind me now.

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Somewhere back around May of 2016, I took a new position as a Security Engineer with the company I had been with for the past 17 years.  17 Years! It was certainly a nerve wracking experience to leave the comfort of my known world to step into the cold harsh reality of something new.  Thankfully, my new team and organization turned out to be a wonderfully welcoming group and I settled in quick and well.  Thankfully I knew most of them from my years at the company, but at any of my protests of fear when it came to the skills needed for the job, they all expressed the utmost faith in me and my abilities.

Which is great, as over the past few years, my skills in the self esteem department had been pretty lacking.  So the warm welcome and the boost of confidence was sorely needed.

Looking back to that time nine months ago, I have a hard time believing that I was that worried.  Things have gone overwhelmingly well in my new home, which leaves me both thrilled and amazed at the capacity I’ve had for learning new skills as I dove into this vaguely familiar yet entirely new world of Security Engineering.  I’m no spring chicken mind you, but change is scary and I’ve been working in the same realm for twenty years.  My first fears surfaced as a worry that I wouldn’t be able to learn fast enough to adapt to this new world.  Now, nine months later, I find myself learning rather rapidly and finding new things that I want and need to learn, every day.

So, here we are, today, and I feel like I’m ready to grab the bull by the horns and rise to great heights in my new world.  The beauty is, I feel with my experience in both IT and our own corporate environment, that I am poised to be able to ride this wave pretty far into my career while helping a solid organization that accepted me, usher in a new era.  Maybe I can even help them reach great heights. I don’t know.  While I do not long for the hallowed halls of management and higher, I do dream of being a leader on the technical front.  Something I haven’t dreamed of for some time as I became complacent with my lot in life. I’ve never been a slouch on the technical front.  I’ve just never felt that I could charge head first into new territory and make myself known as a pioneer and somebody bringing new things to the corporate world around me.  Today, I certainly do feel like that.  And it’s pretty damn exciting.

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This now brings me to why I’m here.  Having so many years where I did not expend a whole lot of effort into learning things new, since I didn’t feel my department at the time would be willing to spend much money on new things, I feel that my learning skills have grown a bit rusty over time.  One of the most exciting aspects to my new career is that I have found that I still have the capacity to learn, and to learn well!  I just don’t have the skills I once did to do said learning. Actually, that’s not fair.  I have the skills.  I just forgot how to use them over time.  I have a whole new world discover and much like the proverbial kid in the candy shop, I find myself wanting to learn it all at once, when I need to show some restraint and strategy for the road ahead.

This new job has me working on aspects of technology and security I never thought I would be involved with.  I’ve been tasked for acting as a developer for platforms such as ServiceNow, which scared me greatly when we started working on our new implementation. Learning things such as JavaScript, and enjoying it, when I thought I hated programming ever since I flunked Cobol in college!  I’m digging into supporting older tech such as Identity Management.  Planning on ways to connect and improve our existing Identity Management into newer technology.  Building ETL jobs to massage data into neat and orderly ranks.  Deploying Single Sign On, and even some web server work to boot.

For those that love to learn, I find myself living a dream come true. I always felt like I should be learning, but I never did it.  Because why did it matter?  Now, I’m doing it in my off hours, because I want to.  And because it’s fun.

Recently, I picked up the book “Soft Skills: The Software Developers Life Manual”, which has had some really great information in the little I’ve read so far.  Author John Sonmez has a lot of great things to teach a budding software developer outside the world of code.  Things such as his “10 Steps to Learning Anything Quickly” has stoked my excitement for learning even more, as it has given me a structure to work within and a way to organize the chaos that has been my studying goals. This was a sorely needed push, as I find myself jumping about from topic to topic as the days go by.  Now, I feel strong with a strategy and confident that I can wrestle this next problem that has been thrown at me into submission.   I even feel like I’m capable of doing it quite well.

Part of John’s 10 Step Plan relies on teaching the knowledge you’ve taught yourself to others, to help solidify the information that you have taken in and making it yours.  One of his tips for doing said teaching is blogging, which if you have known me for awhile, you’ll know is something I’ve long been fond of.  As I’ve kicked off on this new career path, I’ve found myself being a note taking fool and writing out questions and such has worked wonders for me as I’ve picked up my new skills and ran with them.  With that in mind, I figured it’s time to come back to a blog format and maybe share some of the skills I’ve been learning.  It’ll definitely help me out for good.  Maybe it will help you  from time to time as well.

I don’t fancy myself some technological wunderkind that is going to reinvent the wheel.  I do fancy myself as a smart guy staring down the barrel of one hell of a growth journey though, and I couldn’t be more excited.  There is going to be a lot of things pouring into this old brain of mine as the months tick by, and I know myself well enough to know that writing about it is going to help organize it in my mind and help cement it there for the rest years to come.  So here we are, sharing some info as we go.

For a taste of what’s to come, here are a few things I’m diving into here into in the coming weeks:

  • ServiceNow Development
  • JavaScript
  • Identity Management
  • CISSP Certification
  • Network Security Certification
  • App Development
  • Leadership Skills
  • and lord knows what I’ll wake up excited about tomorrow!

Until then, so long.  I have a server administrators guide to go spend some quiet time with.

If you want to have some more fun, be sure to come hang out with us over at The Bloody Good Horror Podcast; I won’t be leaving there any time soon!

 

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