After being fed up with a slew of dead-end, low-paying jobs in everything from the retail and food industries to moving companies and foundation repair, Collin College student Michael Cyrus picked up a book on ethical hacking. He couldn’t put it down and immediately after went online to look for colleges that offered a cybersecurity program. “Turned out that Collin happened to be the best in Texas,” Michael said. “After several articles, it was about a week before I was signed up and in the administration office.”
Michael actually had an early introduction into computers before deciding to pursue technology as a career. “My grandfather worked at IBM for several decades, and my father is a programmer and developer and so pretty much every single day, ever since I was little, I was constantly talking about technology and computers.” But it was actually an unconventional idea that got Michael to decide to specialize in cybersecurity. “I was fascinated by James Bond and I loved computers. I started to go the programming route, but then I found out there’s a section of computers where I can learn, do the programming, but also be allowed to be my own spy.”
Michael is now pursuing two associate’s degrees in Cybersecurity and Cisco Networking at Collin. He plans to have his Cybersecurity degree at the end of this year as well as a certification in CCNA. He should have his Cisco Networking degree in another year to a year and a half.
“What Collin’s IT program has done for me is way beyond anything I could ever imagine. Without it, I wouldn’t have what I have now. I wouldn’t know about any of the opportunities that were out there,” he says. “I probably would have believed just what everyone was saying, ‘Oh, you’re not smart enough for that,’ and other people, ‘Geniuses only can do that.’”
Michael is currently working as a Security Analyst for a cyber defense company in Richardson, Texas. “I’m constantly monitoring several of our clients’ networks and their security logs, making sure there isn’t any malicious files that get slipped by and constantly watch their alarms to see if there is someone actively trying to attack. I let people know and then I mediate.”
Michael plans to go after a bachelor’s and a master’s degree eventually as well as have his own business in networking, setting up help desks and more. He thanks Collin for giving him his start, “Through their hard work, not just professors in just the IT program, it’s everybody at Collin, they really made me realize an outlook on my life that made my goals. It really turned my spirit a 180 and I’ve never been happier.”
To potential future students, he recommends, “If you’re thinking about cybersecurity, give it a shot, because you never know. There might be some aspects that you don’t like or won’t think you like, but once you get involved and start talking to the professors and getting some hands-on, you’ll learn quickly that something you thought you would hate is now one of your favorite things.”