Despite the Odds, the Cybersecurity Boot Camp Experience Helped Harinder Bhathal Get a New Job During COVID-19

After nine years of working in IT, Harinder Bhathal was ready for a new challenge. He didn’t want to fully part with technology, just change directions, and pinpointed cybersecurity as his next move. “In cybersecurity, you’re always learning,” he said. “I really liked that.” 

Landing a cybersecurity job without direct experience would require dedication — but that didn’t dissuade Harinder. After doing some research, he developed a plan. First, he’d gain essential skills by enrolling in UofT SCS Cybersecurity Boot Camp. Then, he’d use his new knowledge to obtain the Security+ certification, a globally recognized springboard to a career in cybersecurity. 

Ready to follow Harinder’s journey of gaining marketable skills, passing his Security+ certification, and landing a cybersecurity consultant role at Cytelligence during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Here’s his story, in his words.

Looking back, how would you describe your overall experience in the boot camp?

It was a great spot to kickstart my career in cybersecurity. As someone who was brand new to the field, the boot camp wasn’t too advanced — you really can come in from any occupation. I learned a lot of things I hadn’t known while working in IT and saw how important security actually is. The boot camp also gave me the confidence I needed for my job search, and I had lots of support from everyone, beginning to end. Even after I finished the boot camp, my instructors, assistant instructors, and fellow learners stayed in touch.

Now you’re a cybersecurity consultant at Cytelligence. Congratulations! How did the boot camp help you land this role? 

The boot camp career center helped me build my resume by showing me what the cybersecurity industry was looking for. The curriculum also prepared me for the Security+ examination — and getting that certification increased my chances of getting a job tenfold. The group projects throughout the program helped a lot with my presentation skills, too. I’m typically a shy guy, but my experience presenting in class prepared me for my interview with Cytelligence. I showed the recruiters my group projects, told them what I’d learned in the boot camp, and said that I wanted to keep on learning. They were happy with that.

How did the boot camp position you for success in your new job?

The group projects we did in the boot camp were great preparation for my current role as a cybersecurity consultant — at Cytelligence, I’m always working in teams. On top of that, our instructors also introduced us to a lot of industry tools that I regularly use at work now.

How is the community at Cytelligence?

It feels like a family. I got my job when everything was shutting down from COVID-19, so I met all my coworkers over video calls. They’ve all been really helpful with everything. I was paired with a mentor during my first month too, and he’s been great.

What do you enjoy most about working in cybersecurity?

As a cybersecurity consultant, there’s always a new case — and every case is different. You get to learn new things as you get new cases, which is really exciting.

Would you recommend the boot camp to others seeking a career change?

Yes. It’s perfect for people who want to make a career change. A lot of my fellow learners were also new to cybersecurity, and the boot camp was structured really well for hands-on learning. It prepared me for the Security+ certification exam and put me on the right track for a career in cybersecurity. 

What advice would you give future boot camp learners? 

Don’t give up if you find yourself struggling to learn something new. You may not always understand every topic the way it’s being taught. When you don’t get something, do your own research. It helps a lot.

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