When COVID-19 Struck, Rory Quenneville Thorpe Found a New Career in Cybersecurity

As was the case for so many others, the start of the pandemic was not a great time for Rory Quenneville Thorpe.

When he moved back to Toronto for his spouse’s career, he had a new job for himself lined up as well. Unfortunately, that job became a COVID-19 casualty. Instead of preparing to start in a new role, he found himself in a new location with no job, no real prospects, and nothing to do.

“It was kind of a depressing moment,” Rory said. 

Things only got worse from there — he applied for a number of jobs, only to realize he didn’t have the competitive skills needed to start a new career. His work experience was in retail, but with the world in lockdown, a job in retail didn’t look promising. 

So, Rory did some reevaluating. “I started thinking about things that interest me, and I ended up looking at coding,” he shared.

That led to a Python course. While it was a small step, it helped make lockdown more bearable. “You know, it got me up early in the morning, it got me motivated, and it got me to do something,” Rory said. 

Then, while researching coding boot camps one day, a lightbulb went off. 

A happy accident

Rory had been considering enrolling in a coding boot camp, and it was almost by accident that he stumbled upon the subject that really captured his imagination: cybersecurity.

“Interestingly enough, the first thing that popped up during my research wasn’t University of Toronto’s cybersecurity boot camp — it was their coding boot camp,” he shared. “I was so close to doing that one until I started looking at the cybersecurity boot camp. I thought, ‘Okay, that looks really cool. I’m going to kick myself if I don’t do it.’”

Soon, Rory was enrolled in UofT SCS Cybersecurity Boot Camp. At the same time, he managed to get the CompTIA Network+ and Security+ certifications. It kept him busy — but then again, with gyms, restaurants, and just about everything else in his area closed for nearly eight months, it was the perfect moment to level up.  

“There wasn’t much to do in lockdown, so studying kept me focused, gave me something to do, and helped me stay motivated,” said Rory.

His decision paid off even sooner than expected. Though Rory had no prior IT experience, he landed a job as a junior security operations specialist at Gamesys shortly after finishing the boot camp. 

Looking to the future, learning from the past

Having landed an exciting new tech career, Rory is now a long way from the dark days of lockdown.

“This job feels like a good fit for me,” he shared. “There’s plenty to learn and plenty of people to learn from, so I feel like I’m in the right place to keep growing. I’m pretty happy for once.”

But Rory doesn’t discredit his past, either. In fact, working in retail may just have equipped him with the resilience and willingness to take risks that got him to where he is today.

“It takes some humility to graduate from university and then go straight into a minimum-wage job just because you need the money,” he said. “People tend to treat you a bit differently. So it’s all about putting your ego aside, keeping an open mind, and being able to learn from others.”

Opening every door

Does Rory have any advice for someone wondering whether or not to take the same risk he did?

“The one thing I would say to anyone who’s really considering the boot camp is this: don’t be afraid to take that leap,” he said. “Utilize the career services, study for your certificates on the side, and you’ll go far. You can do it.” 

In the meantime, that humility and willingness to learn are still powering Rory’s journey. 

“Eventually, I’d like to get out of a junior role and be a bit more tenured,” he shared. “But right now I’m just keeping my eyes open and learning from everyone. I’m trying to be as open-minded as I can and soak up that knowledge. Because even now, I don’t know all of the possible avenues ahead of me. As I keep learning, more doors keep being opened.”

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