While Leo Pryor had success in retail and broadcasting, he yearned for something more meaningful. Like many people on the verge of burnout, he wanted to work in a job that would allow him to maintain a healthy work-life balance and give him the fulfillment of helping others. His first step toward that goal? Turning to the tech learning institution Flatiron School.
Here’s how Leo’s decision to embark on 12 weeks of intense training at Flatiron School’s Cybersecurity program helped him become a Cyber Threat Analyst 1 for ECS Federal.
Could you give us a quick overview of your work experience before the program?
My professional career has revolved around management and leadership roles in retail and broadcasting.
Why did you pursue a new career or upskill in your field? What inspired you to choose Flatiron?
The inspiration was due to a desire for a better work-life balance and advancement. It was through research of educational institutions, reviews, etc., that I wound up choosing Flatiron.
How did you finance your education, and what were some of your biggest considerations when making this choice?
[I applied for a] student loan with Flatiron School’s financial company partner.
What did you like about Flatiron School’s Cybersecurity program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
We were exposed to almost every aspect and flavor of cybersecurity. It gave a glimpse and taste of where one could find the path that resonated with us the most to pursue.
How did you fit the program into your schedule?
I resigned from my job and attended the school full-time — from Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm.
Could you share with us some examples of the projects you completed during the program?
Our cohort was a cybersecurity incident response team that was hired and brought in to investigate the breach in a fictitious company. We were to investigate the systems on their network, and discover where the breach occurred, how it occurred, who was behind it, and what was exfiltrated. [From there, we] suggested mitigation steps, remediation of the event, and set a POAM (Plan of Action and Milestones). It was a week-long project, and we did an awesome job!
Do you have any advice for someone considering Flatiron School and enrolling in the Cybersecurity program?
Do it because you have a passion for it. Not because of the potential money that can be made or because it’s a hot career. The field is very saturated, and you’ll definitely have to stand out from your competition to break in. And [so you must] learn, learn, learn, and LEARN!
Did the job search post-bootcamp turn out as expected? How did the job search process differ from your expectations?
The first company (ECS) I applied to…wanted to hire me. [It’s] totally NOT how the process goes! It was contingent upon a contract award, and I was given the choice to wait or get started in the company as a Help Desk.
I chose to wait given that I just went through 12 weeks of bootcamp. I [definitely] wanted to work in Cyber and not Help Desk. The wait took four months, so I still applied to other companies, of course.
How many companies did you interview with? How did you choose which to work for?
I was interviewed by three other companies plus ECS. I was in the midst of having a technical interview with the third company when I got the call from ECS that they were ready for me.
How did the program support you in finding a job? Did you find a job after the bootcamp?
The post-grad program was very helpful and necessary in setting you up. It gave me the tools to increase my chances and helped me understand how to go about the job search, networking, and more. It was extremely helpful and resourceful.
Have the skills you acquired in the bootcamp been beneficial to your current position, and if so, how?
They have been vital in my critical and investigative thinking, analysis, and learning of the fundamentals of system and network security.
What are the most satisfying aspects of your job? What motivates you to keep doing it?
The motivation is knowing you’re the first line of defense against the bad guys [coming after your company]! To be able to mitigate those malicious acts and protect our clients’ infrastructure, PII, data, reputation, and more, is very gratifying.
How does your current company align with your values and goals? Are there any benefits or perks that make working for this company enjoyable?
They actually align VERY well, and that’s something very important for anyone [looking for a job]. As for benefits and perks, my company rewards its people for learning. In every certification you achieve, you’re awarded a bonus! Each employee also has a yearly training budget. So if there are other areas one wishes to learn, there’s money on the table for you to take courses.
In what ways has your life changed since attending the bootcamp? Can you describe any notable differences in your life pre- and post-bootcamp?
What has changed is that I work in cyber security now as a Threat Analyst. I’m continuing my learning track to advance my skills and knowledge so that I may progress. Every day is a new challenge.
If I aspire to be in your line of work, what would you say are the most crucial skills I should be working on right now?
You should have a deep understanding of the fundamentals. [Like] computer systems, how they communicate, and most especially computer networking. If you’re able to achieve Network+ and Security+ certifications, you’ll definitely be ahead of the game.