CIAT Resource Library

My Tech Journey – Mathew Birchard

Episode 4


Mathew talks about his dual degree program, learning to code, and how he’s prepared himself to juggle both school and career.

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00;00;22;00 – 00;01;25;12

How do you see these two programs working together helping you accomplish your career goals?

So originally I had actually thought, well, I would be able to take the software development side and use it to develop systems or to engineer basically set cybersecurity systems for people to be able to be that high level guy. Now, to be a cybersecurity solutions architect, if you will. What I’ve discovered is through my job, actually, automation is a huge part of IT.

Being able to provide a solution which doesn’t necessarily require a huge amount of man hours is invaluable. So I think that what’s actually going to happen is that in my cybersecurity roles, which is the ultimate goal, I’ll find that the ability to create programs, to create scripts and automate as many systems as possible is going to be what sets me apart from just the guy who went and took a bunch of certifications on Udemy.

00;01;25;12 – 00;02;10;29

Are you excited / nervous about the dual program?

Super excited.. Also nervous because when you wake up one morning, so you wake up and you say “On Monday, all right, I’ve got, I’ve got six days to get through all of this and it’s not that bad, we can manage it”. And then on Wednesday you wake up and you go, “I’ve still got 60 hours of work to do”.

It’s a lot, you know, and then you’re juggling everything else in your life. So there’s the nerve-racking component where you have to just “woosah” right? You’ve got to just breathe and accept that ok it’s one task at a time. And get those bullet points and you’ve got to check those things off the list one thing at a time.

So super super excited, very nervous. Also really hopeful.

00;02;10;29 – 00;02;38;02

You have a background in IT – do you have any background in coding, or will this be your first experience learning to code?

I have no experience previously with coding except for in middle school. I did a little bit with C Plus and C++ I was creating like the little like “tell me your name programs”. Right? Which I thought I thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But this is my first experience with coding with the python, and I’m loving every minute of it.

00;02;38;02 – 00;03;53;22

How have you prepared yourself personally to start on this new tech journey?

So there’s a couple of things that I did to prepare. Obviously, I went all in. You know, I’ve kind of mentioned my lab before and the way I did that. I realized very quickly that I was getting distracted as I would I would study and I would say, “Oh, my gosh, I need to do this”. And then all of a sudden instead of being on school website, I’m on Amazon, whatever.

So what I learned quickly was to keep a notebook that I write down. Any errant thoughts on okay. This task has to be done, and I write those thoughts down to be addressed later, get it off my head. And then I’ve got sticky notes as well. And it’s task that is to be done. I put sticky notes on my machine on my monitor.

However, the other thing that I did is I, I had to make a shift in mindset because I’ve got all my personal life to do. I’ve got work, I’ve got to dual degree. And one of my favorite quotes and I can’t figure out who, who originally said it was, you know, set goals so big that you can’t accomplish them until you become the person who can. And so that shift in mindset and paradigm is just to be able to say, okay, maybe I’m not ready for that yet.

But we if we do this and this and this, we take these steps, then I become the person that can. This is – that’s what we have to do. And it’s helped me immensely.

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