Trevor Granger is a Manager, Offensive Security Engineer. He has 18 years of service and is currently in Officer Training School for the Air Force.
I was a freshman in high school when September 11th, 2001 happened. I will never forget my principal’s somber voice on the intercom telling us matter-of-factly that a terrorist attack had occurred. We spent the rest of the day watching the news to try to understand what took place. I couldn’t have known it at the time, but that traumatic event set in motion a personal journey that, many years later, would see me enter the field of cybersecurity as a member of the military.
I was unfocused as a kid and was headed in the wrong direction. Fortunately, my brother and cousin encouraged me to join the Marines, which I did at age 17. I turned 18 in boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, but nothing seemed to matter less than my birthday while there. I quickly learned the individual matters far less than the mission and the Marines around them.
Fast forward to 2010: With one Iraq deployment in the bag, I was getting out of active duty to become a city cop, my dream job at the time. I joined the Army National Guard, served in the Field Artillery and was a cop for less than a year until I realized I wanted nothing to do with that career. It just wasn’t for me.
I had no idea what I was going to do, but with some advice from my family, I used my GI Bill benefits to get a cybersecurity degree. In 2017, after another Middle East deployment, I switched services again into an Air National Guard Cyber Operations Squadron, which is when I realized how incredible a career in cybersecurity could be for me, my family and my nation.
I started working for Synack in the summer of 2018. I can’t believe how much my life has changed in the course of a few years. Giving up on my dream of being a police officer seemed like the end of the road for my lofty career aspirations, but I was now making quite a bit more money, working for a company that cares about its employees and their families, and still serving the greater good. I am now at 18 years in the military and 4 years with Synack, and I couldn’t be happier! I believe I found my calling here and am grateful to love what I do.
There’s no magic formula for breaking into the field of cybersecurity from the military. But it helps to build a solid LinkedIn profile: Don’t downplay your experience or intelligence. Armed services like the Marines may drill away the importance of the individual in deference to the mission, but when it comes to seeking employment in IT or cybersecurity, don’t be afraid to highlight your unique skills! I’d recommend joining a group like VetSec that can get you “plugged in.” There are so many opportunities out there.
Don’t focus all your attention on degrees and certifications (unless required for your “dream job”) and instead, network. Meeting people in this industry will help you develop, focus your studying and skill-building and give you the best chance of finding someone willing to take you on and train you up. And know that there are many, many reservists, veterans and military spouses already in the cybersecurity community ready to support you on your journey!
For more information about Synack’s work with veterans, visit our Veterans Page.