“Just Keep Trying”: How Harsimran Sidhu Persevered to Learn Cybersecurity and Land a Job During COVID-19

When Harsimran Sidhu decided to pursue a cybersecurity career, he already had a head start. He’d done robotics for three years, then worked as a cable technician for Canadian Network installation Ltd (CNI)

“I thought both of those were going to be things I wanted to do,” Harsimran said, “but I realized that I’m not really good at mechanical stuff — I’m better at programming and figuring out how to secure electronics.” 

He’d been interested in cybersecurity for a long time, but wasn’t sure where to start. One day, he Googled cybersecurity programs. When he found out about UofT SCS Cybersecurity Boot Camp, he quit his technician job and enrolled. 

While the boot camp certainly had its challenges, Harsimran’s background in electronics gave him a leg up over his classmates.

“In robotics, I learned how to automate, and at university, I completed a Bachelor of Technology in controls and advanced electronics,” he said. “In the boot camp, I learned how to protect those electronics. It was a combination of those three things that helped me complete the course. I felt like I already knew a lot about how everything worked.”

But there were still challenges ahead. One was COVID-19. 

Detecting the challenges

As his independent project for the boot camp, Harsimran created a home automation system. “I put small chips in every room of my house so they could detect bluetooth signals from phones,” he said. Now, he can detect when someone’s in his room, identify who they are, and even have the lights turn on automatically when someone enters a room — just as long as they have their phone with the bluetooth signal turned on.

But developing the project on his own was tricky. “If I had an issue and didn’t know how to fix it, I had to Google it and figure it out by myself,” he said. 

Despite the obstacles, Harsimran persevered. Later, this project would come in handy.

“When I was doing interviews and companies asked what project I did, they were really impressed,” he said. “So that was a great plus.”

Achieving his goal — and then some

The other steps that helped him land a job were getting his CompTIA Security+ certification and working one-on-one with his boot camp coach. Even then, it wasn’t a piece of cake. “I got rejections every day,” Harsimran said. “It was hard.” 

A month after getting his certification, he finally received an offer for an entry-level cybersecurity job at Telecom Metric. 

Although he’s only been working virtually so far, and hasn’t been able to move yet due to COVID-19, Harsimran is very happy with the situation. “The job is awesome,” he said. “I love what I’m doing here — controlling the servers and just helping customers with technical issues. It’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

So, what’s next? Currently, Harsimran is working toward taking the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam so he can get his cybersecurity certification. “That’s the top certification for cybersecurity,” he said. “But I need more experience and study first, so I’m taking a step-by-step process to get there.” 

He imagines the process will be similar to preparing for his CompTIA Security+ certification. For that certification, Harsimran had to take the test twice, but he didn’t give up. “That’s my main goal,” he said. “Just keep trying.”

Interested in a career in cybersecurity? Learn more about UofT SCS Boot Camps.

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