Content Writer Claire Collins on How to Break Into the Cybersecurity Industry as an “Outsider”
For Claire Collins, the journey to a career in the cybersecurity industry was anything but conventional — a recurring theme in our 5 Questions series. Our organization welcomes individuals from all professional backgrounds, levels of experience and walks of life. In Claire’s case, an unconventional path means joining our Falcon OverWatch™ team as a content writer after 11 years in the world of public policy.
Here to talk more about that unconventional path and her current role is Claire Collins.
Q. To start, tell us a little bit about your role as content writer.
I’m the content writer for the OverWatch team, which is our managed threat hunting service. I work on a range of products, including our regular reporting and our blogs. Essentially, I help tell the story of what our OverWatch threat hunters do day to day and the value they bring to our customers.
It’s fascinating work, and there’s never a shortage of interesting content. For example, our analysts are working to see how adversaries are operating in the wild as it happens. The challenge for me is to bring those stories to life. I want to make sure that our audience — whether they’re technical or not — understand the significance of the activity that OverWatch tracks.
Q. That sounds quite different from what you did in the past. Tell us how you came into this role from the world of public policy.
That’s right. I don’t have a background specifically in writing or in communications, although that’s always been a central part of my work in public policy. I’ve been lucky to have worked across a wide range of policy areas, including welfare policy, where I looked closely at issues around work incentives, followed by a period working in the child protection space. The role I had immediately before joining CrowdStrike was as the manager of an industry policy team, overseeing a range of economic development programs and industry investment initiatives.
On the surface, those roles may seem quite different to where I find myself now. But there are actually a lot of similarities and transferable skills. For example, when you’re working in policy, you develop a knack for getting to the crux of an issue really quickly. At the same time, you need to understand those issues very deeply because part of the job involves convincing people who are typically very time-poor to take a desired action.
Applying that to my role now, I would say that I know how to ask the right questions. In many cases, an analyst I’m working with will look at something and say, “Oh, this is interesting. We haven’t seen it before.” And I’m able to draw out of them what is interesting about the situation, what it might mean, why it’s happening, and how it works, to be able to share that with our audience.
Q. Are you happy you made the switch to cybersecurity?
Yes! As much as I enjoyed working in policy, I think this role takes a lot of the best parts of that world. I get to learn about a new subject area every day. I work with a team that’s super supportive and always there to explain things to me. There are also so many opportunities to grow by getting into the technical side of things. And, of course, I get to write a lot, which is something I love.
Q. Tell us more about the culture on your team and at CrowdStrike. What has made for a positive learning environment in your experience?
When I first joined, I was immediately impressed with how supportive everyone was. Coming in from a background in government, I had slight reservations about my lack of industry experience and how people would react to that. I’m not a comms person or a writer and I don’t have cyber experience. What would people think about me taking a job as a writer in the cyber industry?
But, honestly, no one batted an eye. It was a really welcoming environment. People practically bend over backward to help me understand things and fill in any knowledge gaps. I also find that people are immediately willing to hear your contribution. I never got the sense that you have to “do your time” to earn your place at the table. Instead, the impression I have is that you’ve been hired to do a job and you have the skills to do it — so let’s hear what you have to say. That’s really empowering.
Q. Do you have any advice to other women who want to get involved in this industry and don’t have past experience?
For anyone looking to get into the cybersecurity industry — or any new field really – if your interest is genuine, if your passion is authentic, if the job excites you, then that will shine through during the recruitment process. Attitude is important. Transferable skills are important. If you come to the table and can make the case and prove you want to learn, then anyone with an open mind should see the value in that.
I would also say the opportunities are there. The cyber industry is growing rapidly, and that creates demand. At the same time, with the industry in its relative infancy, there is a finite pool of people with significant cyber experience. That creates opportunities for relative newcomers, as there is an impetus for the industry to be more imaginative in finding and investing in building talent.
So my advice would be: Have confidence in the skills you have. You can break through if you have the ability to self-drive and the motivation to build a new future from the ground up.
Are you ready to begin your journey to the cybersecurity industry? Browse our job listings today.