English Majors: Exploring the Expanding World of Cybersecurity Careers
6 min read
With the rapid advances in technology, including AI, IoT devices, and virtual reality, you may think only techies can be part of the explosion of careers being created in tech. You might even wonder if your current job is going to be automated over the coming years. There's been a huge uproar in the creative communities of artists and writers. With Chat-GPT content generation to Stable Diffusion-generated illustrations, only time will tell where AI will end up in the professional landscape.
As an English major, you're probably used to the all-too-familiar jokes about ending up working as a barista or the notion that our degrees are worthless in the modern job market.
Of course, with some creative thinking, an English degree can be a valuable asset to a broad arrange of careers and fields. Contrary to popular belief, the skills acquired through the study of English and other Humanities disciplines are versatile and relevant across a wide array of professional fields.
There are numerous articles and resources available that delve into the myriad ways in which English and other Humanities degrees can seamlessly integrate into various fields. These resources highlight the unique and adaptable skill set English majors possess. Critical thinking, communication, and analytical skills are honed through the study of literature and language, and these skills are highly sought after in today's ever-evolving job market.
As technology continues to advance and the professional landscape shifts, it is crucial for English majors and other Humanities graduates to embrace their strengths and adapt to the changing demands of the workforce. By doing so, they can successfully debunk the myth of the "worthless" degree and showcase the true value of their education.
Despite the articles highlighting unconventional careers that English majors may not have considered relevant to their education, there is one option you might not have encountered as a viable career path for an English major. It seldom appears on those lists. Furthermore, it's not just a single position, but an entire field with a multitude of career opportunities spanning across various sectors. It also aligns well with the surge in tech careers. Best of all, you don't necessarily need to be a techie to get started. An English degree is a significant asset for many of the positions available. So, what is this field?
This field is cybersecurity.
What is cybersecurity?
Most people envision hoodie-wearing, coffee-guzzling men sitting in a dark computer room, typing away on a black and green terminal when they think of cybersecurity. While it can be that—if you're into that kind of aesthetic—it also encompasses a woman reviewing policies and procedures, ensuring compliance with local, national, and international laws, as well as industry standards and regulations.
It's an investigator meticulously searching through publicly available information on the internet to gather intelligence on bad actors to apprehend them.
It's a writer skillfully creating written content related to cybersecurity, such as blog posts (like this one), courses, or engaging social media campaigns.
It's the "White Hatter" who travels to schools throughout North America, educating children about digital literacy, internet safety, and online privacy.
It's the numerous multifaceted roles that revolve around a central theme: information.
Cybersecurity is one of the most crucial and rapidly evolving fields in today's world. As time progresses and technology advances, integrating into every aspect of our lives, the risks and challenges of safeguarding our data, privacy, and systems escalate. Cyberattacks can lead to devastating consequences for individuals, businesses, governments, and society as a whole, ranging from identity theft and financial losses to national security breaches and cyber warfare.
One example I can share is my own experience.
In the mid-2010s, I fell victim to a ransomware attack. This type of virus encrypts your files, making them unusable, and demands a ransom in exchange for decrypting the files. In my case, all the files on my computer, including my engagement photos, digital illustrations, and years of writing, were affected. I had to pay thousands of dollars to access my files. Fortunately, my photographer had a backup of my engagement photos. However, I didn't pay the ransom for the rest of my files, so I lost all my stories, poetry, and digital illustrations.
The devastating impact of attacks like the one I experienced extends far beyond my ordeal. They leave a trail of destruction that not only harms businesses—especially smaller ones—but also shatters the lives of those affected.
How English Majors Can Help
To address these complex and dynamic threats, we need a diverse and talented workforce that can bring various perspectives, skills, and experiences to the field of cybersecurity. Contrary to popular belief, cybersecurity is not solely for computer science or engineering majors. There are numerous roles that individuals with diverse backgrounds can play in the field, particularly those who have a background in the Humanities, such as English majors.
English majors are a tremendous asset to the cybersecurity field for several reasons. First, they possess strong communication skills that are crucial for effective cybersecurity. They can write clear and concise reports, policies, and guidelines that help prevent or mitigate cyber incidents. They are also able to communicate complex technical concepts to non-technical audiences, such as customers, managers, or policymakers, and persuade them to take action or adopt best practices. Furthermore, they can employ their storytelling and creative writing abilities to create engaging and informative cyber awareness campaigns or educational materials.
Secondly, English majors possess analytical and critical thinking skills essential for cybersecurity. They can read and interpret various texts and information sources, such as news articles, research papers, or threat intelligence reports, and identify the main ideas, arguments, and evidence. Additionally, they can assess the credibility, reliability, and bias of these sources, synthesizing them into coherent and logical conclusions. Moreover, they can apply their literary analysis skills to comprehend the motivations, behaviors, and techniques of cyber adversaries, anticipating their next moves.
Third, English majors possess cultural and ethical awareness that is crucial for cybersecurity. They gain exposure to diverse cultures, histories, and perspectives through their study of literature and language. They can appreciate the social and human aspects of cybersecurity and understand how various groups of people may perceive or respond to cyber issues differently. They can also recognize the ethical implications and dilemmas of cybersecurity and balance the trade-offs between security and other values, such as privacy, freedom, and justice.
In conclusion, cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary field that necessitates a diverse range of skills and knowledge, extending beyond technical domains. English majors possess numerous valuable qualities that can contribute to the field of cybersecurity, thereby enhancing its effectiveness and resilience. Therefore, if you are an English major interested in cybersecurity or seeking a career change, do not hesitate to explore the myriad opportunities and roles available to you in this thrilling and gratifying field.