Joining Cyberworkplace was one of the best decisions I’ve made in life

Viktoriia Kuznetsova, Former student & ambassador of Cyberworkplace

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Viktoriia and I have recently turned 27. The past 3 years, I’ve been on the move a lot. In 2019, I left my hometown Moscow to study in Italy, where things didn’t exactly work out how I wished. In autumn 2021 I made another radical move and came to The Netherlands, a country I’ve always loved and considered progressive. Currently, I am living in the charming town of Haarlem.

I come from a completely non-technical background, with a bachelor in Linguistics and teaching foreign languages, which I enjoyed doing for over six years prior to the pandemic which changed everything for me. It was during the countless lockdowns that I developed a passion for tech. I spent a lot of time online exploring the reality of living in the modern world—the power of Big Data, the rising cybercrime, hackers daily growing in numbers and attacking critical infrastructures… It felt as if all the cyberpunk literature I’d read came to life. 

One spring day, as I was researching online how vast the IT industry is, I stumbled upon the term ‘cybersecurity’ which seemed really fascinating and mysterious. The more I was learning about the world of cybersecurity, the more I was beginning to feel that this is something I see myself doing in the future. By that time I had already spent too many years working as a teacher and a translator, I didn’t feel challenged anymore and realized it was time for a career change. But how? Where do you even start? I only knew I wanted to feel a sense of purpose again, to do good to society on a larger scale. After some research on which country is the best hub of cybersecurity professionals in the EU, the decision was made— The Netherlands! 

When did you join Cyberworkplace? 

In October 2021, only a month after moving here, just out of curiosity I made a life-changing Google search ‘cybersecurity Rotterdam’ (because I’ve always loved this city, and I was staying there at that time). This is how Cyberworkplace showed up in the results. I read everything on the website and instantly felt right about it. I applied and shortly had an intake interview with the executive manager, who put me at ease with her warm and caring personality. My initial motivation to join was to get more technical skills needed to enter the industry and to get a better understanding of what cybersecurity is about.

What did you like about Cyberworkplace? 

From the moment I joined Cyberworkplace, I felt I was well-taken care of. I am happy to say that my actual experience exceeded my expectations. Not only did I gain essential knowledge, but also made great friends here, all united by the same passion. My past seven months have been a journey with a lot of unknowns, but Cyberworkplace was the only constant I knew I could rely on. It was my anchor during the turbulent times and one of the best decisions I’ve made in life!

What have you learned at Cyberworkplace?

During our workshops, a lot of interesting topics on ethics were covered by the chair of the organization, Mira Gosteyn, and other successful professionals. We got to learn not just the theory but also to practice in lab environment. Thanks to Cyberworkplace, I was able to complete a few great introductory courses by Cisco, like Introduction to Cybersecurity and Linux, also learned basic Python and even did an Ethical Hacking course, all of it free of charge! I think it is pretty spectacular that Cyberworkplace provides such a variety of courses as well as organizes workshops with inspiring speakers, for instance Melanie Rieback, who shared her unconventional story and inspired me to get more into risk management. All of this together allows you to get a better feel of the cybersecurity industry from the inside and to try out a few different paths for yourself, to see what exactly speaks to you most. You never know until you try, right?

What is your most favorite moment at Cyberworkplace? 

The thing I found most valuable is a feeling of community that you get once you join Cyberworkplace. You get the best guidance and support as well as much needed exposure to the industry, especially for total newbies like myself. You feel encouraged for your effort and truly listened to, if for example you have a specific request. The team of Cyberworkplace will always take that into account and will do their best to make sure this topic is covered, and in a fun and inspiring way. 

As far as workshops go, my personal favorite activity we did was a table talk on crisis management together with the talented students of The Hague University of Applied Sciences. We all worked in teams, brainstorming a simulated ransomware attack which actually felt very real because you need to think and act fast, just like in real life! A workshop devoted to social engineering with Hugo van den Toorn was also fascinating and gave a few useful insights on how hackers think.

What are you currently up to?

From April 2022 I’ve been a trainee at UMBRiO. They are a wonderful team of professionals who are helping me learn to make sense of Big Data and to eventually become a Splunk consultant. I am grateful to Cyberworkplace for guiding me along the way and suggesting I apply to UMBRiO in the first place. 

Describe Cyberworkplace with three words.

Supportive, encouraging, fun.

Would you recommend Cyberworkplace to your friends and acquaintances? 

I’d definitely recommend joining Cyberworkplace to anyone who is considering becoming a cybersecurity specialist. You will get a chance to learn more about the industry and make a few friends along the way. If you work hard and make progress, Cyberworkplace might even help you land a suitable internship. You can also be sure that you choose the right place, as I felt the team takes this very seriously and advise you every step of the way. 

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I’d just like to say a massive thank you to Cyberworkplace for doing what you do, for providing a supportive environment for everyone curious about cybersecurity. It is a unique place and I see it steadily getting bigger and better, so if you are somewhat intrigued and want to know more – just go ahead and join! It’s a great opportunity to explore your interests and get a hands-on learning experience. Your idea of the cybersecurity world will never be the same!

Check the requirements and join Cyberworkplace here.