Military Spouse Sara Hilton: From ‘The Least Technical Person’ to Smashing It in a Cyber Security Career

Military Spouse Sara Hilton: From ‘The Least Technical Person’ to Smashing It in a Cyber Security Career

Meredyth Grant

Training with TechVets helped Sara become a ‘work-at-home’ mum with more confidence, more career opportunities, and more flexibility in her days. Get inspired by her story here.

One year ago, Sara Hilton had no technical background in IT.

“I was literally the worst person to use it,” she tells TechVets. “Absolutely no previous technical ability.”

The mother of three spent ten years of her marriage travelling alongside her husband Andrew who served with the Royal Corps of Signals. From Blandford to Lisburn in Northern Ireland to Corsham, Sara focused on raising their kids and found she really enjoyed the Army lifestyle.

“I loved meeting new people and seeing new places,” she shares, explaining how her own career wasn’t a priority at the time. “I wasn’t really doing anything which actually helped a lot when we were moving around because I could just pick up a job as and when.”

That changed last year when Sara decided she needed something new. Now she works in IT and is on track to earning twice as much per hour as she did in previous jobs at places like Starbucks and David Lloyd Clubs.

Here, Sara explains how she went from tech-averse to tech expert, and why it’s a smart move for military spouses to consider…

Getting into IT as a Military Spouse

Sara’s husband was the first person to suggest giving tech training a try.

“Andrew had been doing a lot of stuff with TechVets in the past and he kept saying like, ‘do cyber security, you should do some qualifications,’” she recalls. “Being the least technical person that I’ve ever known I was just like, ‘no no no, I can’t, I’m not any good with computers, I’m not good at all…’”

That was back in June, which was lucky timing as TechVets had just expanded its resources.

 “When they opened up all of their resources to spouses and, you know, whoever was associated with the military, I just thought, you know, why not just try one of the really basic ones and see where it goes?” she says. “I actually wasn’t as terrible as I thought I might be, which was a nice surprise…it was like the babiest of baby steps.”

Now she’s come a long way.

“The other week I was coding with Python, and before that, if you’d have said ‘oh, in a few weeks you’ll be coding with Python’ I would have been literally on the floor laughing,” she shares, “But it was really enjoyable and really fun and I was I was loving it.”

Cyber Security Training At Her Own (Fast) Pace

Sara initially explored the TechVets website and found different pathways into tech careers. She chose the SOC Analyst training pathway because it seemed like a good starting place for entry into a wide range of IT job opportunities.

The first step was an Open University Introduction to Cybersecurity course. It was an eight week course that she completed in only three days.

“I just powered through it and I really enjoyed it,” she says. “It broke [the information] down really nice and into tiny little chunks, which is great because you can just like pick and go through it at your own pace.”

She soon had to put her progress on hold, however.

“My eldest daughter broke her arm and had to have surgery, and then it was the summer holiday,” she explains. “It wasn’t a problem because it was all at your own pace. It was not like missing anything. And then once they went back to school in September, I was able to pick it up again when I had free time, which isn’t that easy to come by, but I definitely managed to get more done.”

Landing a Cyber Security ‘Dream Job’

In the months that followed, Sara made the most of what she calls an “unbelievable amount of resources” – she used the TechVets Discord channels for tips and sent her CV to Tanya at the Forces Employment Charity (now merged with TechVets) for advice and support on her application.

“My CV was just all the cafe jobs that I’ve had, and it wasn’t cybersecurity related at all,” Sara explains. “I had to put those skills in and like bring them across and say, ‘I can do this’ and ‘this would be helpful in this situation in cybersecurity’…”

She then began her job hunt on the TechVets jobs board. This board features postings that you often can’t find anywhere else, and that was the case for Sara’s eventual role- an entry level cybersecurity analystjob that the employer wanted to give someone within the military community.

“I finally found the dream job,” she says. “I nearly cried happy tears when I saw the jobs board. I really did because I didn’t think I was ever gonna find it. But here we are.”

She was hired in less than a week!

Working in Cyber Security from Home

Sara’s job can now fit perfectly around her life. She spends one workday per week in the nearby office, and the other four working from home.

“It’s 9 to 5, but they’re super flexible like I can go and do the school runs,” she says. “If I need to go to special morning assemblies, when the children get a certificate, it’s not a problem as long as I get my hours done.”

That’s just one of the reasons she’s telling other military spouses to train in cyber security and IT.

“It’s just brilliant…nearly all roles are fully remote, so it doesn’t matter where you are, you can still carry on working. It fits in so well around family life. The job I had before, I was working most weekends, one if not both days, so I was missing out on all the family time that we would have had together…now Andrew and I’ll be off every weekend as well, which is marvelous because we’ll get to do lots of things together and have some lovely time as a family at the weekend.”

Another perk is the pay.

“It’s gonna make such a big difference to our lives having this extra income,” Sara shares. She says her kids are already asking her when they can go to Butlins with the extra money!

For anyone interested in following in Sara’s footsteps, she’s very happy to help. You can reach out to her on the TechVets Discord community for one-on-one chats, so be sure that you are registered (for free) at the link below- or pass the link along to someone you know who could use a positive career change.

“Definitely sign up…Have a look at the courses on offer, and pick something basic like the introduction to cyber security,” she says. “Just have a go because honestly, if I can do all of the courses that I have done, you will be so surprised at how much you can do.”

NEXT: Register to Join TechVets & The Forces Employment Charity