Every job, no matter how lowly it seems, is an opportunity to learn something that’ll come in handy later in life.
The other day I was helping someone who wants to pursue a career in information security. He wasn’t sure if he should list some of his past jobs in his profiles because they don’t have anything to do with his preferred industry. I urged him to include everything.
He’s currently a barista at Starbucks. While it’s not an infosec job, it requires people skills, customer service prowess and an ability to juggle multiple tasks at once — all important qualities for anyone who wants to thrive in the security world.
Most jobs have something you can carry forward.
I learned about customer service working in a record store. I hated working in my father’s warehouse as a teenager, but it taught me a lot about how shipping and distribution works. Working for weekly newspapers had a lot of drawbacks. The pay sucked — really sucked — and I worked 80 hours a week. But I learned a lot about how government and politics work from all the meetings I covered and a lot about the court system from all the arraignments I was sent to. I also learned how to write a lot of stories quickly.
Had I not worked those jobs, I would not have had the success I’ve had in infosec. I wouldn’t be able to make sense of all the threat data I’m constantly writing about. I wouldn’t be able to juggle writing reports, threat advisories and blog posts. And I wouldn’t have been able to build the industry network I have today.
It was all worth it, even if it all seemed like thankless drudgery at the time.
So if you’re in a job you don’t think is a good fit, by all means strive toward something else. But don’t ignore the tools you can collect along the way.