Igor Vlasenko: Air Traffic Control to Cybersecurity
“My favorite part of Flatiron School was the exposure to professional and social events. The community was welcoming, willing to help, and full of valuable resources.”
Igor Vlasenko, an August 2022 Cybersecurity Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, grew up in Ukraine and went to university to be an air traffic controller. After moving to the USA as an adult, he decided to pursue Cybersecurity for a technical challenge.
He shares his journey of immigrating to the USA and finding his way to Cybersecurity Engineering below.
Changing Continents and Careers
Igor was born and raised in Ukraine. Despite his interest in technology as an adult, he doesn’t recall being interested in it as a child.
“I can’t say I was exposed to technology or computers as a kid,” he said. “I was more into sports and spent most of my time helping my dad at an auto shop.”
For university, Igor attended the National Aviation University of Ukraine to study Air Traffic Control. It was after his third year there that he had the opportunity to move to the United States. After arriving in North America, he says he moved around quite a bit.
“I lived in Wisconsin, New York City, Buffalo, New York, and Galveston, Texas before I moved to Denver, Colorado where I have been living for the last 6 years.”
After working in the service industry as a bartender in downtown Denver for those 6 years, it was in 2022 that Igor decided that he needed a change.
“I didn’t feel challenged. When I asked myself if doing what I was doing every day at work helped me get where I want to be, I did not get a satisfactory answer,” he explained. “That was the primary reason I decided that I had to do something about it.”
As to why he settled on Cybersecurity, Igor cites a “curiosity” about the field.
“I would read news articles about recent cybersecurity breaches throughout various industries around the world,” he said. “And I often found myself not understanding the specifics of adversary techniques and defense mechanisms. I wanted to understand it better and be able to protect myself and others.”
His Flatiron School Experience
Once Igor decided to pursue Cybersecurity, his next step was gaining the skills he needed to break into the industry. To achieve that, he decided to attend a Flatiron School bootcamp.
“When I was searching for ways to proceed with getting educated in this particular discipline, bootcamps stood out for their efficiency and relevancy of information,” he explained. “Flatiron School had an outstanding reputation and provided support pre and post-education period.”
Igor applied and accepted to Flatiron School’s full-time Cybersecurity Engineering program in May 2022. He would complete hundreds of hours of coursework over the next 15 weeks.
“The curriculum was quite challenging intellectually and mentally,” he recalled. “[But] the constant support from the Flatiron community was very helpful.”
Despite the challenge of the accelerated coursework, Igor cites the community at Flatiron School and beyond as a motivating factor throughout.
“My favorite aspect of the school was the exposure to professional and social events. I found the community to be extremely welcoming, willing to help, and full of valuable resources.”
Job Searching As An Immigrant
Igor graduated from the Flatiron School Cybersecurity Engineering program in August 2022. Unfortunately, his job search initially got off to a rocky start.
“I faced certain obstacles caused by immigration-related processes,” Igor explained. “[But] once I resolved those, the experience of finding a job was manageable.”
But, throughout his search, his dedicated Flatiron School career coach was there to support him.
“My career coach, Quianna Rodriguez, was extremely helpful throughout my entire experience of looking for a job. [She] would often put in additional effort and go the extra mile to find resources relevant to my unique situation, which made my experience of working with her absolutely incredible! I would also like to mention Scott Bowman and thank him for his constant support and valuable advice.”
Ultimately, Igor accepted a Senior Information Security Analyst position with Western Union, based in his new hometown of Denver, Colorado.
Reflecting On His Journey
Looking back on the journey he took to land his first job in tech, Igor is proud of his personal and professional growth.
“I developed my ability to connect with people, gained confidence in my skills, and got a job.”
As for his advice to other students, he recommends persistence.
“If you have a big, scary task ahead of you, break it into multiple pieces and conquer them one by one. Seek environments where you feel like you are the most stupid person in the room and listen.”
Ready For A Change, Just Like Igor Vlasenko?
Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Cybersecurity Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course.
Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of April 19, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.