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Meet the Alphas: Exploring a Career in Cybersecurity as a Graphic Designer

We hereby feature another one of our star trainees: Frankie Tan of ASTP Cohort 02! Previously a graphic designer, Frankie made a complete 180-degree switch from a career path in creative media to cybersecurity, with the support of our Alpha Specialist Training Programme (ASTP). She is now embarking on the next phase of her profession as a Security Engineer at Accenture. Read on to gather some fascinating insights about Frankie’s exploration in the cyber domain!

What drew you to cybersecurity?

"My interest in cybersecurity grew upon watching the television show, Mr Robot. The show cast a spotlight on cybersecurity and depicted hacking fairly accurately, which spurred me to watch cybersecurity lectures on YouTube afterwards as well as take on a part-time diploma in IT. This further kindled my interest, so I decided to pivot over to cybersecurity when COVID struck since it felt like a good time to do so."

What motivated you to make the career switch into cybersecurity?

"I decided to do graphic design fresh out of secondary school and didn’t think so far ahead into the future. As I grew older, my priorities changed and I started to realise that as much as I enjoyed doing creative design, working in the creative industry is a whole different experience and doesn’t align with my values. I personally found cybersecurity to be much more meaningful, through contributing to Singapore’s national security, which is better aligned with my core values!"

How did you find out about Red Alpha?

Frankie (on the right) in class.

"To answer this, I first have to go way back to when I first dabbled in cybersecurity. My very first application to a cybersecurity course was for a part-time degree in NUS BTech, with a specialisation in cybersecurity. Sadly, I was rejected – but this also made me realise that I was lacking in certain areas due to my background in graphic design, so I strove to work on myself after that.

Through my research, I was introduced to Black Hat Asia, an annual live event held in Singapore for cybersecurity enthusiasts and professionals. I had the opportunity to meet the current COO of Red Alpha, Emil Tan, through this event and also become a part of Division Zero (Div0), a cybersecurity community formed by Emil himself! I volunteered with SINCON after that and met many people in the cybersecurity community – which was a great way to network and set foot in the industry. It was through these networking opportunities that I found out about Red Alpha ASTP, and I decided to give it a shot!"

How was the transition from a graphic designer to a Red Alpha ASTP trainee like?

"It definitely wasn’t easy in the beginning as I felt daunted by my peers – most of whom had prior backgrounds in STEM fields, which gave them an advantage when it came to approaching problem-solving in ASTP. But, the trainers were really thoughtful and supportive – and it was through their patient guidance that I managed to overcome this wall and successfully complete the course!"

What is your favourite part of being a Red Alpha ASTP trainee?

"It would definitely be the culture here! I really love learning from my trainers and peers – everyone comes from different backgrounds and has had different experiences, so there is always something to learn from everyone. The trainers are also very experienced and patient, so there really is no shortage of support here!"

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with people who want to make a career switch, but are hesitant to do so?

"Just go for it! Don’t be afraid of failure, because failure itself is also an opportunity to learn and grow! As long as you don’t stop trying, you will definitely get somewhere.

It’s also important to consider whether you’re satisfied with your current trajectory in life. For me, I was never truly happy with my career in graphic design. As someone who gains and loses interest in things very quickly, my persisting interest in cybersecurity was a huge hint in what I truly wanted to do as a career, which was a huge factor in my decision to switch careers! So if there is something that you are really interested in doing, really, just go for it!"

We are truly happy to have been a part of Frankie’s journey in discovering her calling in life and dream job in cybersecurity! As always, Red Alpha warmly welcomes all who are interested in growing their vocation and profession in the domain.


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