Nathan's Leap of Faith

You could say that Nathan Salcole took a leap of faith, leaving behind a 10-year career in retail to pursue his passion for cybersecurity and networking. He, however, feels that he has more than landed on his feet.

Immersing himself fully into his studies, Nathan first enrolled at TAFE full-time to study networking, before adding a part-time degree in Information Technology at Charles Sturt University in Albury into the mix.

He currently juggles all this with working part-time as a software developer and raising a young family. It is a wonder he finds time to sleep at all.

“There have certainly been times when I’ve been surviving on about three hours a night,” he says.

Eager to find out more about where his chosen career might be headed, Nathan attended Ribit’s AustCyber speed networking event in Canberra, held as part of the ACSC (Australian Cyber Security Centre) Annual Conference 2018.

“I had an absolute blast. It was amazing getting to hear from so many of the big players in the industry, then also being able to sit down and talk with them. Especially for me, as someone just starting out in the field.”

Not only that, but he also found the speed dating format extremely helpful and positive.

“It’s quick and precise. I got to speak to 5 potential employers, something that might take months to achieve through a regular recruitment process.”

“And in some ways, it gives you more chances. You might find you don’t strictly meet the criteria for a certain position. However, they might see you have other characteristics which they could use. That’s something you can’t show on a piece of paper or on an email.”

Having gone along more out of curiosity than actively looking for a job, Nathan’s passion for cybersecurity certainly shone through when he sat down with his future employer, Matt Wilcox of Fifth Domain.

“I was blown away when I received a call from Matt to set up an interview.”

The call actually came some time later, shortly after Nathan had attended a second Ribit speed networking event in Melbourne.

“When I heard about the Melbourne event, I signed up right away, as I was still looking for a position.”

“On the day, I drove down from Wodonga and was running early, so thought I may as well head straight there and see if they needed a hand with anything.”

Not only did Nathan help set up, he also stepped in to support first-timers who were unfamiliar with speed networking process. This display of commitment did not go unnoticed, with Nathan receiving a special mention from Ribit head honcho, Liz Jakubowski, praising his hands-on approach and willingness to step in to help without being asked.

A few days later, Matt got in touch to arrange Nathan’s interview at Fifth Domain.

After the interview, Matt proposed Nathan join Fifth Domain team as a distance junior technician. He invited him up to Canberra for training, and to set up the infrastructure and tools required for him to work remotely. Within a week, Nathan was back home in Wodonga and ready to go.

Fifth Domain is a cybersecurity start-up that produces specialist training platforms enabling companies and individuals to develop effective cybersecurity strategies. Nathan’s role at the firm is helping create the virtualised networks these platforms are based on.

“It is basically a training environment that we’ve created, where companies can upload their own framework in order to simulate their own operating environment.”

As part of small team, Nathan has thoroughly enjoyed being able to get his hands dirty and has learnt a great deal.

“My role is fairly ad-hoc, I have to jump in wherever they need help, which means I’m getting experience across the whole spectrum of software and product development.”

Overall, this work experience has helped Nathan immensely, allowing him to find his feet within the cybersecurity sector. He really feels it is invaluable for anyone studying to do the same.

“Get in as early as you can. Even if you only have time to do an internship in the summer holidays, any industry experience is worth it. Being in the classroom is great, but you won’t find the real world in a textbook. There are real-world problems you are going to face when you start working in your profession. The only way to learn is by getting out there and getting experience.”

Nathan is now looking forward to continuing to build on his knowledge and experience by getting as much study as he can under his belt.

“I’d love to get honours for my bachelor’s degree, then my masters and potentially a PhD in cybersecurity and networking. There’s just so much we still don’t know about computers and what they are capable of!”