Welcome to BYU’s best major, Cybersecurity. You’ve come to an awesome place at BYU. Cybersecurity is one of the newest majors, and one of the most needed as well! Whether this is your first semester or your last, rest assured, students from all walks of life find themselves at home in our major. So, what is Cybersecurity?
“Cybersecurity is a computing-based discipline involving technology, people, information, and processes to protect computing systems from adversaries. It involves the creation, operation, analysis, and testing of secure computing systems. It is an interdisciplinary course of study, including aspects of law, policy, human factors, ethics, and risk management in the context of adversaries.
BYU's Cybersecurity program is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the NSA/DHS.”
This excerpt is from our official website, cybersecurity.byu.edu, a great place to start when looking for information and other relevant resources. Now that you have an understanding, let’s get into more of what we do & what else there is to learn. Rather than making you read an essay, let’s get into the Ten Tips for Success in Cybersecurity while at BYU. These are just a few lessons we’ve learned that we felt would help you hit the ground running and feel at home here in our program!
- Learn to deal with imposter syndrome. Cybersecurity is constantly evolving and requires self-study. Often you might experience feelings of inadequacy among peers or your own expectations. To overcome these hurdles, we want to make it clear that you absolutely can learn how to be a great Cybersecurity student and professional. No matter where you started, you can get to where you want to be. In the meantime, reflect on how much you’ve learned in the last month, six months, past year, etc. Take things one step at a time and soon you’ll be impressed with how far you’ve come.
- Organize how you record information. There is so much information online about Cybersecurity that you can learn about on your own. However, it’s easy to just expose yourself and not absorb any of it. Find a way to keep notes of all that you learn and you will learn much more efficiently. Figure out what method works best for yourself and run with it. Whether that is physical note taking, using OneNote, Evernote, or some other kind of personal Wiki, you will be grateful for any attempt to organize information you come across.
- It will be hard at first, but keep learning anyway! Cybersecurity deals with many deep topics in terms of technology and the amount of information there is. No one becomes an expert in a day, a week or even a year. Focus on building skills and good habits that will enable you to be a lifelong learner! Showing up and learning is most of the battle. Whether that is reading something each day, being attentive in class, or taking on extra projects, it will take effort - but it’s worth it.
- Side projects and side learning are absolutely necessary. If you were coming into the major expecting to just do the homework and learn all you need to know in four years and walk out on graduation with a full-time job, you might be a little disappointed. The program will teach you a lot of valuable things but to really be successful, you will need to put in time outside of class and on your own.
- Utilize the best resource available: your peers! Cybersecurity as both a major and a field, involves a great amount of collaboration. Especially here at BYU, we have a special group of students who are motivated and passionate about learning. If you’re struggling with a project or assignment, chances are you aren’t alone. Reach out to a classmate, form a study group, and learn together.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help (we all do!). Every single person who is in cybersecurity started out with little to no understanding. Period! We all know what it was like to open Linux for the first time. Reach out to others in the program or field and learn about what helped them and how they learned what they know! You should never feel bad for asking genuine questions.
- Reach out to people in the field to learn “real world applications". Book learning is never quite the same as applying something in real life. Getting to know professionals and applying your skills in real-world circumstances will lead to success in a future career. We have a great network of alumni who love to connect with students. Even if you aren’t looking for a job, opening doors early on can’t hurt!
- Remember to keep a good life balance! It can be easy to get caught up in all the business of school. Finding creative ways to relax and recharge helps prevent burnout—something that’s pretty common in tech-related fields.
- Don’t stress if you aren’t the best “programmer”. Cybersecurity is a great field where you can be successful in a variety of roles and skillsets. While programming is often integrated with Cybersecurity projects and roles, it doesn’t have to be your main focus.
- Have Fun! Learning should be fun! Don’t stress if you hit a wall. Ask for help, take a break, and enjoy the ride.