Woman in Security

Written By: Yena Collins

As a child of the early 90s, I had a wide range of activities that I gravitated towards. Such as accomplishing a monthly jigsaw puzzle, learning my mother’s language — Korean, playing with dolls, but nothing could top my obsession with the internet.

The two best decisions my father ever had as a parent was first showing me what the Internet Explorer icon did and second to always use fake identities when using the internet. By eight, I was building websites from scratch, playing with command-line, and searching for information we couldn’t find in our school library, all before Google was a household name. I really believe that this was the pinnacle moment for me to go down the career path of security and privacy before it was even a defined field.

Fast forward 20 years, I’ve worked in multiple fields, worn many hats, such as Service Desk Technician, Product Manager, Business Analyst — just trying to get my foot in the door. For many of us minorities sometimes the glass ceiling is an entry position with a solid career path into a great company that looks out for you. There have been phenomenal leaders who have mentored me along the way, and many more that believe women should never play a part in Security. And without them all, I wouldn’t have known how much I was able to achieve, and how much more I am capable of.

The turning point for my Security career, was finding this amazing non-profit Western Governors University. Not only do they invest in talent at every stage, whether you are just joining the field or have years of experience; they help pay for you and your families’ WGU degrees. WGU’s mission is truly to empower all individuals and to bridge the gap from talent to opportunity for whatever career path you decide on. They believe in the inherent worth of every individual and their right to an education.

What it took me to achieve in 5 years at a Fortune 500 company; I was able to make more and achieve more in half the amount of time on the WGU Security team. I take ownership of my area and responsibilities and my leaders enable me to truly transform and mature what I own to the best of my abilities. My leadership and my team are always there to support whatever I envision next. I have never worked at a company with an Inclusion and Diversity department; The different ideas that come from just being your authentic self is extremely valued and nurtured at WGU.

Along the years, I’ve also had the amazing opportunity to mentor young women and children venturing into IT careers. I’ve made so many mistakes that I wouldn’t want anyone else to make!
Here are some amazing resources my colleagues have used to connect with other advocates of individual empowerment and career advancement in security and privacy.

https://wehackpurple.com/
https://www.wiisglobal.org/
https://girlswhocode.com/

There are also a lot of I.T. scholarships available at WGU. You can visit them here as well: https://www.wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition/scholarships.html#IT.

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