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How I decided to become a CyberSpace Operations Officer with CyberStart

How I decided to become a CyberSpace Operations Officer with CyberStart

This is a guest post written by Talya, who is part of CyberStart America’s JROTC community.

Everyone should try CyberStart. You just might find out that you absolutely love it - like I did! It changed every part of my life.

We asked CyberStart player Talya how CyberStart has impacted her life and her future career plans.

How did you get started with CyberStart?

I have met teens in the same grade as me with the exact same interests and goals through the CyberStart community.

While going through the module “An Introduction to Cybersecurity”, my squadron introduced the opportunity of joining CyberStart, which they only had a few slots for. Immediately I emailed my squadron aerospace officer for a slot, expecting CyberStart to be an enjoyable competition where I might learn some more material.

It has been even better than that.

Through CyberStart I’ve learned most of my cyber security knowledge, am having a blast satisfying my competitive spirit, and have a fun, rewarding game to challenge myself with in my free time. Additionally, I have met teens in the same grade as me with the exact same interests and goals through the CyberStart community.

What were your favourite aspects of CyberStart?

I loved how, while playing CyberStart, there was both sudden thrill and long thought processing, and both teamwork and competition.

There was definitely always thrill and satisfaction to see the confetti coming down the screen after entering the correct flag, but the long time spent researching and studying was very productive. They compliment each other well, since the thrill motivated me to persevere until I solved the challenge.

The same people who I was competing with were also the same people who were helping me solve challenges that I got stuck on, and I got to help them, too. It’s a very rewarding experience.

What was your experience like as a JROTC/CAP CyberStart America member?

Coming together online to help each other with the CyberStart game, we realized we had a common interest in cyber security and got to know each other better.

I didn’t know that many people when I first joined my squadron, especially since it was only a couple months before we moved to virtual meetings.

Coming together online to help each other with the CyberStart game, we realized we had a common interest in cyber security and got to know each other better. I actually made one of my best friends through that experience.

Needless to say, getting to access CyberStart for free is also a plus. ;)

Would you recommend CyberStart to your friends and why?

How better to introduce a new field to high school students than to make it a game?

I would definitely recommend it to my friends! CyberStart’s design makes it easy for students to come in with little to no cyber security background, and come out with an incredible amount of understanding and skill in the cyber security field. I have experienced this personally. It also is such a great introduction to cyber security- how better to introduce a new field to high school students than to make it a game?

What would you say to other JROTC/CAP members who haven’t tried CyberStart yet?

Everyone should try it out, because you just might find out that you absolutely love it- like I did!

I would tell them to go ahead and give it a shot! Many people think cyber security enthusiasts sit at their computers all day just typing random things and being lazy. They don’t realize that it’s intentional and important. It actually has many aspects to it that we all enjoy (teamwork, mystery, skill, competition, thrill, etc.). Everyone should try it out, because you just might find out that you absolutely love it- like I did!

Were you interested in a cyber security career before CyberStart?

When approached with a positive attitude and a ready-to-learn mind, it’s not nearly as complicated as people often make it out to be.

Haha no. Not at all. Not even a little. I started CyberStart in CyberStart America because I wanted to get involved with my squadron. At the time, I wanted to study emergency medicine and be a paramedic- directly saving lives and being there when my fellow U.S. citizens needed me to survive.

I thought that cyber security and computer stuff was super boring- I mean, all the movies and books make fun of those people and highlight them as awkward geeks, right? I started CyberStart though, and I can’t tell you how surprised I was. It changed my perspective completely.

I found that this is a much-needed field where I can still help my fellow U.S. citizens. I also found out that, when approached with a positive attitude and a ready-to-learn mind, it’s not nearly as complicated as people often make it out to be.

Are you interested in a cyber security career after playing CyberStart? 

For sure!!

What are your academic/career goals for the future?

Joining CyberStart has changed every aspect of my life.

After finding myself in multiple cyber security/computer science programs (CyberStart definitely being the best), I know just where I want to be in during and after college. In fact, joining CyberStart has changed every aspect of my life.

Everything I do now- school, varsity track and cross country, Civil Air Patrol, cyber security programs- all points to one large goal: studying Computer Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy. I am going to be a CyberSpace Operations Officer. With this goal in mind, I have been able to find new vigor and increased energy to push through tough times. Let’s keep America cybersafe!

Ready to discover the thrilling, rewarding and fun world of cyber security like Talya? Start playing CyberStart to battle cyber criminals and learn practical cyber security skills, all while having a blast!

All of these programmes are entirely free, and feature CyberStart!

CyberStart America

What is it?

A fun programme developed to help you discover your talent, advance your skills and win scholarships in cyber security.

Who's it for?

13-18 year old high school students in the US only.

Awesome! How can I find out more?
www.cyberstartamerica.org

Cyber FastTrack

What is it?

The fastest and most cost-effective route to a career in cyber security via free training and exclusive scholarship opportunities.

Who's it for?

College students in the US only.

Great! How can I find out more?
www.cyber-fasttrack.org