Advice for Young Women Getting Started in Cybersecurity

Sindhura Gade 16 May 2019

Sindhura Gade, a cybersecurity engineer at Avast, gives advice to young women based on her own experience

Being an engineer in the cybersecurity space means working on finding answers to potential security threats and finding better ways to safeguard our families. I work on a variety of technologies, and with cybersecurity growing rapidly, I get to stay updated on the latest software trends and practices. Building these solutions also lets me learn about the internal workings of the web. Most importantly, I work in a field that will continuously interest me, challenge me, and keep me passionate.

I got my bachelor’s degree in computer science from a university in India – Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) – where my professors always encouraged me to explore the branches of computer science. I took part in presentations, debates, and group discussions that allowed me to absorb as much information as I could in the vast field of IT. Having a wonderful set of friends and co-students that shared this perspective was a blessing too, which ensured an atmosphere of healthy competition. Not everyone is as fortunate as I was, and I hope the following suggestions will be helpful to students, especially young women, looking to break through in cybersecurity.  

How to get started in cybersecurity

What type of engineer are you?

The first thing to understand and figure out is what part of cybersecurity do you want to get into? Do you like to work on powerful servers and applications behind the scenes? You might be a back-end engineer. Are you empathetic and interested in a user’s experience? You might be a UI engineer. Do you see the big picture and like working on architectures of entire systems? You might be a network engineer.

Once you have determined this, you can begin exploring the “technology stack” where you need to gain experience. You must acquire a strong understanding of designing and developing efficient software programs.

Here are some tools to help you reach that goal:


  • Computer science courses in college on topics such as Information systems and Information Technology security
  • Online courses to get an understanding of the space and technologies. Coursera is my recommendation
  • Certification training to learn specific operating systems and software

Search for job postings in the space and go through the requirements for the positions. This will give a very good understanding of:

  • What to expect from the role
  • What technologies must you gain knowledge and expertise on
  • What security/software aspects and workings you must have a complete understanding of

Develop a pet project that you can showcase in your interviews. This will help you gain an end-to-end understanding of a challenge in your chosen field and prepare you for job interviews.

Explore websites that help build programming skills:

Read “Cracking the Coding Interview” by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, a book that is very useful in understanding the programming concepts.

Dig deeper and discover what role you want to play in this vast field of cybersecurity. Doing this led me to my current job at Avast, which has been absolutely wonderful and enriching. We need more and more women in this space to bring that diversity in perspectives, solution design, team management and leadership.

As we as a society progress and achieve increasing technological advancement, we also open up new realms of security concerns. We need guardians to protect us from the negative effects of this progress. Being a cybersecurity engineer is being that guardian. The world needs you!

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