Army veteran Ian Getty sits down with us to talk about launching his cyber security career after 14 years in the military and eight years working in private security.
On this edition of the TechVets podcast, we sat down with Ian Getty, a former Royal Irish Regiment infanteer whose skill set has shifted over the years to suit military service, private jobs, and the modern tech career world.
Ian is currently a Level 1 SOC Analyst at CYSIAM, a leading UK cyber security company. To learn how he got there after a 14 year long military career, keep reading or stream the podcast here:
Ian’s army career began in 1999 and took him to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and beyond. For him, as for many of us, the relentless pace of back-to-back tours and deployments had a big impact on his mental health in the years that followed.
“I started to show signs of PTSD,” he shares on the podcast. “I probably had the big symptom of anxiety for about two years before I left [a private security job], where I was doing patrols when I shouldn’t have been nervous and feeling sick…you’re trying to hold it in, so you’re spending every day trying not to show that you do not want to be here.”
If you’ve been affected by the issues he mentions, don’t struggle alone. OP Courage has fast, free and specialised mental health support for Armed Forces veterans, service-leavers and reservists. You can also speak to someone anytime (24/7, 365 days a year) by ringing Combat Stress at 0800 138 1619.
Thriving in Cyber Security as a Veteran
While on sick leave, Ian found out he wouldn’t be cleared to go back and continue his overseas security work.
“I had no idea what was going to happen next,” he recalls. “Suddenly I was in the real world after sort of 20 years’ experience going around these places like Iraq and Afghanistan and really trying to work out ‘what do I do with that?’”
He took every training opportunity available to him, first in low coding and then in cyber security once (in his words) “I realised I hated low coding.”
Ian says he is lucky to have found James at TechVets for help networking and translating his work experience into tech employability.
“The Army’s not completely non-technical. I was infantry and we did technical stuff,” he explains. “There’s people in [the military] that are really going to bring those skills to wherever they go, but perhaps they just don’t know they’ve got them or how to translate them…and I think the soft skills are on top of that, that’s the bonus.”
To highlight the right skills, Ian had to master his own CV writing techniques. He ended up using the TechVets CV review around the time he was hired by CYSIAM in his current role, and recommends others take advantage of the service asap.
“I mean if you can get that sorted right off the bat at the start so that’s not something you’re worrying about, that’s another bonus.”
His employer CYSIAM is a veteran founded, veteran owned company that hires both veterans and civilians. They are one of many leading UK tech companies that actively seek out veterans to employ. If you’ve been concerned about getting your foot in the door and being accepted, the cyber security world is more welcoming than you might expect.
“It’s not like a them and us sort of a field, definitely not. I suppose it’s something like you get in the military where the junior ranks join together, and then the next rank up, there’s not tension” Ian says. “I don’t think you would be able to notice the difference if you came in from the outside and had a look.”
Ian’s Advice for Service-Leavers in Cyber Security
Ian had very little formal education, but CYSIAM saw his value and now he’s growing while working with them. In his role, he’s encouraged to pursue the company’s training targets involving certain cyber security qualifications. One is Splunk training which he’s now earning free through TechVets.
Practical qualifications can go a long way toward securing your own second career in cyber and technology. From Ian’s perspective, “when people leave the military, there’s a real hunger for proper qualifications. I know so many people with Master’s degrees or they’re going for degrees…” but technical qualifications can be fast tracks to competitive jobs, too.
While he says the job hunt can be “pretty soul destroying,” he reminds ex-Forces job seekers that their backgrounds already set them up for success.
“It’s hard to get, I mean it is that lived experience,” says Ian on the podcast. “If you’ve went through something like Afghanistan, you’re going to survive as an SOC.”
Whether protecting others with a rifle or a laptop, security is security. If you’ve got military experience, it’s likely you’ll take to cyber security quite smoothly like Ian.
“I think everything I understand in my brain is just an analogy with the old security,” he shares. “You know, a firewall’s like a big concrete wall. Some stuff gets in, some stuff doesn’t. That’s how I get my head around tech.”
If you’ve been inspired by his story and could consider retraining through TechVets, head over to techvets.co/our-offer/ to learn more. You can get more career advice at the link below.
As a veteran or Service leaver you can access mental health support from: