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Featured Students – Dylan Paynter

Dylan Successfully Lands His First Cybersecurity Role, Kickstarting His Dream Career Path

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Dylan Paynter

Job Title: Product Security Tester

Company: Lightship Security

CIAT Program: Associate of Applied Science Degree in Computer Information Systems, 2021

Dylan Paynter, an active student in CIAT’s Associate of Applied Science Degree in Computer Information Systems lands his first successful cybersecurity role as a Product Security Tester for a cutting-edge an IT Security Certification company, Lightship Security.

Dylan followed the CIAT methodology, working his way into the tech field prior to graduation to kickstart his career efforts. Building early real-world work experience on your resume is crucial to help you compete for the most in-demand tech positions.

How Passion Breeds Opportunity:

In Dylan’s IT role as a Product Security Tester, he works with global brands (such as Xerox and Cisco), to review and validate technical standards, product claims, and security standards that help his clients maintain regulatory compliance targets, mitigate security risks, improve data security, and streamline operational efficiencies.

His passion for the cybersecurity field is infectious as Dylan talks about his long-term interest in learning about all things IT and continuing to specialize his career in the cybersecurity field.

“I’ve always loved cybersecurity [and] helping people all across the globe.”

Demonstrating Technical Skill Confidence:

Landing a specialized cybersecurity role is a great first step for Dylan in his career development. Excelling quickly and making a great first impression with a new employer is where Dylan shines. Thanks to his technical training and skills confidence, he started off strong in his new position, completing tasks as quickly as they come. Dylan confidently writes security targets, completes penetration testing, compliance testing, and technical functionality testing.

The dedication to his new role and passion for the field will enable him to grow quickly in his new position, taking on more project management and leadership roles, eventually giving him the opportunity to lead his own security testing projects.

“They’ve been nailing me with tasks and knocking them out as quickly as they can give them.”

Lightship Security utilizes a propriety automation and testing platform, which makes their lab testing processes very efficient, delivering a fast turnaround for clients. Listening to Dylan’s confidence in learning new tools and taking on challenging opportunities makes us at CIAT proud of the well-rounded foundation he’s built and how his hard work has translated into self-assurance.

Getting Security+ Certified Opens New Doors:

CIAT follows CompTIA’s Stackable Core certification best practices for helping students build a strong foundation of skills across IT fundamentals, hardware, software, networking, and security. The CompTIA Security+ certification is top on most student’ list when it comes to building an IT career because they know the demand in the marketplace.

“The Security+ certification shows you know algorithms, encryption, network and system hardening skills. From there, you can specialize. It’s a great beginner certification.”

Dylan’s continuing education plans haven’t stopped even though he landed his job. He’ll be working towards his CISSP in the future, an advanced level cybersecurity certification that typically recommends you have work experience under your belt. 

What do you like most about your CIAT online experience?

As a former U.S. Marine, Dylan came to CIAT with early technical skills in his background. He credits CIAT to helping him bridge his early IT foundation with hands-on application and deeper theoretical concepts.

Now, as a working adult, he sees the full value of the end-to-end CIAT experience – one that is flexible and manageable with a full-time job.

areer because they know the demand in the marketplace.

“The instructors really do care whether we are grasping the knowledge. They go above and beyond to make sure you understand and find the resources to increase your knowledge.”

How will continuing your education help you advance your career?

Like many students working hard to get their foot in the door, Dylan’s biggest challenge to overcome was to not just land any job, but one that would make him feel that he was successful in breaking into the cybersecurity field. He took any side projects that he could, adding IT consulting jobs on his resume to start with. Finding ways to show, not just tell, employers that you’re the right candidate for the position, starts with thinking about your career transition as a job within itself. Dylan’s hard work paid off and we’re excited to follow him through his career advancement steps.

Dylan is a big believer in continuing education and plans to continue working towards his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems, developing more skills while advancing his career.

“Know yourself and seek self-improvement. You’re always trying to sharpen the tools in your toolbox – whether it’s brushing up on something or learning a new skill, and immediately apply those skills to the workplace.”

Dylan’s advice on getting certified and building a new career:

“Fully immerse yourself into the environment. Don’t brain dump – you’re cheating yourself out of knowledge, it’ll hurt you in the long run.”

Many students who are new to the career field don’t know where to go, what to ask, in the beginning. Everything can feel overwhelming, especially with the wide variety of options to specialize in the IT field.

His advice to students is simple – to take the first step towards getting involved in the field you’re aiming for. Over time, your confidence builds, and your skills develop.

Summary – Tips any student can walk away with:

  • Take small, daily actions that help build your confidence: Attend an online conference, share an article on LinkedIn, ask for advice from someone in the field, read blogs and articles that seem out of your comfort zone. The more you immerse yourself in your desired field, the more your confidence will start to grow as you learn lingo, read success stories, and reflect on where you started.
  • Get your foot in the door early: Many students transitioning from other career fields or from prior military experience can rely on their unique background to build a compelling personal pitch to an employer. Take any opportunity you can when you’re first starting out (contract positions, volunteer positions, part-time positions, etc.) to build up your resume, while you’re in school. Don’t wait until you graduate. The combination of real-world working experience, certifications, and demonstrable skills help you beat out your competition.
  • Get skilled and certified while earning your degree – Traditional degrees can be fine for those who are exploring multiple fields or trying to decide what you want to do in life. But if you’ve already decided on launching an IT career, accelerate your path to make sure that hands-on learning and certification preparation are an integrated part of your learning experience, or else you’ll spend twice the time while pursuing your career goal.

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This inspiring story features one of our remarkable graduates who leveraged their education to secure a coveted role in cybersecurity before completing their program. This story highlights how early real-world work experience can be the key to competing for the most sought-after tech positions.

Inspired by the story? Take the first step to a new career.

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