From Cyber Recruiter to Cyber Professional: Anja Milenkovic’s Stellar Career Transition
As a technical recruiter for the largest bank in Canada, Anja Milenkovic learned a lot about STEM professions. Tasked specifically to look for cybersecurity talent, she grew to understand what it would take to live in that world. It intrigued her.
“My exposure to cybersecurity gave me a lot of perspective. I wanted to do something more technical, and the opportunity was there,” she said.
After years of helping people land their dream jobs in tech, there was one thing left for Anja to do: discover her own.
Craving the Technical
With no coding background, Anja had her work cut out for her. She started by taking free online classes, but when an ad popped up for the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies Cybersecurity Boot Camp, she paused.
“I looked at other courses and boot camps, but those were really just certifications,” Anja said. “I wanted to gain the hands-on technical knowledge—the skills.”
That’s exactly what the boot camp offered. Eager to kick-start her new career, Anja enrolled.
Preparing For Success
Going into the boot camp with no technical experience, Anja was understandably nervous. Ever the organizational whiz, she decided to thoroughly prepare.
“I invested the time and did all the pre-work so I wouldn’t go in blind,” she said.
Despite her preparation, Anja quickly realized truly how fast-paced the curriculum is. Boot camp is designed to be challenging.
“You really can’t go five minutes without missing out on important info,” she said. “But for someone who had no experience, the way it’s structured like that is great.”
A month in, Anja’s employer found out about her boot camp endeavor. They were impressed.
“When they realized I was really serious about changing careers, they gave me a job on the cybersecurity team,” Anja said.
Suddenly, she was learning cybersecurity in a new way: on the job. This came with its own set of challenges, but Anja proved she was up for the task—putting her organizational skills to the test.
“I planned my days carefully so I would get all my work done,” she said. “As soon as homework came out, I’d do it and ping TAs as I needed.”
Anja didn’t just reach out for help—she offered it up, too. With seven years of recruiting experience under her belt, she knew a thing or two about landing a job in cybersecurity.
She decided to host a recruiting session for her fellow learners, sharing advice and building on the resume assistance that the boot camp is known for. Her number 1 tip? Take advantage of networking events.
“They’re great ways to showcase your intelligence and prove yourself,” Anja said. “I wanted to help them engage and use their boot camp time to learn more than the boot camp skills.”
Anja encouraged her peers to join her, extending an open invitation for all future networking events. Her insights paid off. She was able to help one of her TAs properly understand his real worth to an employer.
Putting It All Together
While she didn’t have any technical skills prior to the boot camp, one thing has really helped Anja excel in cybersecurity.
“I knew how to communicate, and that was really important,” she said. “I never steer away from a ‘dumb’ question.”
Equally important are the soft skills she has honed at the boot camp. “My new team is very fast-paced and lean, so I had to train myself a little bit,” Anja said. “I really had to use the self-learning skills from boot camp and problem-solve.”
Her overall advice for prospective boot campers is to be sure that the learning experience is really what they want. Prior to the boot camp, Anja did a self-assessment to determine her aptitude. Naturally, she passed.
“I knew it would be hard work, I knew there would be a huge learning curve, and I still chose it,” she said. “It’s one of those things where you have to enjoy the challenges along the way to enjoy the awesomeness of the work.”