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2016—David D., penetration tester at Nike

How this Army paratrooper and all-source intelligence analyst made a new career manning security operations for business data.

2016 MSSA graduate David D. pivoted from his career as a paratrooper and intel analyst to cybersecurity penetration testing. Here’s why he believes a military background is an ideal fit for offensive security operations.

Catch us up on your career moves since you completed MSSA. What has your career looked like?  

In my first information security role after graduation, I helped the City of Portland with their Payment Card Industry (PCI) audit, which examined the security processes in place for credit card transactions. This was a huge opportunity for me to put my information security training to the test after finishing the MSSA program.

I moved on to work as a security operations analyst at Anitian. A highlight was working with the Blue Team, where we focused on the defense of the company’s network.

I took my network defense experience to my current role as working on Red Team exercises, where I conduct offensive security. I find these exercises immensely helpful in expanding my professional expertise. Although they are a lot of fun, I know I am playing a critical role in protecting my company and our customers.

Where do you drive impact in your work?

Because I work in information security, specifically in offensive security, my responsibilities involve assessing systems for vulnerabilities and securing them. This is where I have the greatest impact because my efforts keeping my client’s systems safe.

On a personal level, I’ve been a part of a non-profit organization started by a friend. We provide informational support and resume help to people breaking into the information security field.

What are some of your proudest moments so far in your IT career?

In my first information security job, I helped the city of Portland with their PCI audit.

When I worked as a security operations analyst at Anitian, the highlight was working with the Blue Team and specifically in my current role, being a part of red team exercises. I find those exercises immensely helpful in expanding my expertise  and they are also super fun.

How did MSSA help you transition to a new career?

MSSA helped me capture the motivation I had when training as a soldier and apply it to training for the tech industry. It gave me an opportunity to focus on learning, being exposed to new technologies, and developing passion for information technology tools and capabilities.

It’s long enough that you’re able to discover where your passions lie in tech. And the curriculum tracked to industry certifications, so I earned a MCSA 2012R2 certification, three MTA Certs, and the CompTIA Security Plus certification, which helped me to actually get to interviews.

Do you have advice or key learnings to share with transitioning service members?

Don’t burn out when you are transitioning. Take the time to stay healthy physically and mentally.

Find that passion to learn and find something that you love to do. Information security was something that I latched on to and I love it. If you have passion and love for what you’re doing, you’ll be happy in your chosen field.