Maxwell Wolfe: DJ to Cybersecurity

Maxwell Wolfe

“I appreciated the collaborative environment of the program, where we were encouraged to work in teams, brainstorm, and devise solutions for our projects.”

Reading Time 5 mins

Maxwell Wolfe, a May 2021 Cybersecurity graduate, says that he could easily fill the pages of a book to explain the winding career path he’s taken to get where he is today. 

He shares his journey to becoming a Cybersecurity business owner below, and all of the winding turns along the way.

Blue-Collar Background

Maxwell describes his background as “diverse.” A college dropout, he remembers having difficulty in the traditional education system. 

“My best learning occurs through doing and tinkering; I’ve never been one for memorization or traditional testing,” he said. “Grasping complex information requires a hands-on approach for me. In summary, I’m a kinesthetic learner.” 

This educational tendency led him to hold a string of unrelated jobs that all had one thing in common – he was able to work with his hands. 

“My career trajectory has been anything but conventional. I’ve worked in kitchens, bars, construction, and even nightclubs as a DJ and tech support.” 

In early 2020, Maxwell was working in nightclubs in the DC area as tech support and an opening DJ for headliners. But, due to his eclectic collection of hands-on job experiences, the declaration of the pandemic struck a death blow to his occupation. 

“When COVID-19 arrived, social life came to a standstill, and work dried up. I lost everything and was forced to start anew,” he explained. “It was then that I decided to pivot towards something sustainable, never wanting to find myself in such a precarious situation again.”

Pivoting Into Tech

In his search for a new career, Maxwell didn’t have to go far. He went back to his early curiosity in “gadgets,” renewing his interest in a tech career he’d long ago discounted as unrealistic. 

“Tech and video games always intrigued me,” he recalled. “But I never thought I was cut out for a career in tech until I stumbled upon some free online resources.” 

His decision to pursue Cybersecurity specifically, however, was driven by a more recent experience.  

“The TV show Mr. Robot was a significant catalyst, inspiring me to dive into tech and, more specifically, ethical hacking. The idea of protecting individuals or non-profit organizations sparked my desire to contribute positively to society and prompted me to embark on this new career path.”

His Bootcamp Experience

Having settled on a career in Cybersecurity, Maxwell cast about looking for ways to acquire the necessary skills to enter the field – a search that eventually led him to apply to Flatiron School. 

“My decision to join Flatiron School was primarily based on the school’s reputation,” he recalled. “And the fact that its instructors have real-world industry experience.”

Maxwell enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time Cybersecurity program, an intensive, accelerated course designed to equip students with the foundational skills needed to break into the Cybersecurity industry in just 15 weeks. He began his learning on a rigorous schedule – 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday – a time-commitment that he said took time to adjust to.

“Balancing this program with three other jobs was undoubtedly challenging. However, the toughest part was realizing that in tech, you’re often your own support system. The transition from an outsider to the go-to tech person can be overwhelming at first.”

Despite the oftentimes grueling task of balancing education and work, Maxwell thrived in the communal environment fostered by the course. 

“I appreciated the collaborative environment of the program, where we were encouraged to work in teams, brainstorm, and devise solutions for our projects.”

As for what brought him the most pride from his time at Flatiron School, Maxwell told us about how he used his new skills to help a friend.

“I managed to track down a cyberstalker for one of my friends. This experience was incredibly fulfilling and demonstrated the real-world impact of my new skills.”

Working In The Field

Maxwell Wolfe graduated from Flatiron School in May 2021. Coming from a career of hands-on roles where a handshake landed a position, executing a purely-online search for a white-collar job (while the pandemic slowly petered out) presented some initial difficulties. 

“The job search was challenging, but my coach was instrumental in keeping me motivated,” Maxwell recalled. “She guided me in finding job platforms, writing blogs, and understanding LinkedIn. Even now, she remains a strong pillar of support, cheering me on whenever possible. Thanks, Sarah 🙂.”

Ultimately, his efforts paid off, and he worked as a SOC Analyst at a technology company for over a year. When we spoke with him in July 2023, he’d taken time between contracts to earn additional certifications, enhance his skills, open his own company, and – most importantly of all – recuperate from burnout. 

“The transition [to tech] in less than six months was undoubtedly tough. The initial stages were overwhelming, and I won’t deny that I experienced burnout,” he said. “But things are much better now, and I’ve even launched my own freelance work and registered an LLC. I also joined the HackerOne platform as an ethical hacker, hunting for bug bounties to build my experience across various legal hacker platforms.”

Maxwell opened Wolfhart IT, an IT service provider and consulting firm, in mid-2023. In early July he shared on LinkedIn that his company had signed its first contract.

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on the long road he took to Cybersecurity and his time at Flatiron School, Maxwell’s main takeaway is the necessity of adopting a learner’s growth mindset – especially in a rapidly evolving field like tech.

“Learning never ends in the tech industry. To stay relevant, one must commit to being a lifelong learner in this ever-evolving field.”

His advice for current students follows the same vein – encouraging learning while maintaining healthy habits and realistic expectations of exactly how much you can take on. 

“Before committing to a bootcamp, do extensive research. Ensure you balance your work with relaxation to avoid burnout. Don’t try to cram all the information at once.”

Post-Flatiron School, he has some practical career advice as well – keep learning and attaining qualifications!

“Consider following the CompTIA career path, and don’t limit yourself to just the Security+ certification. The A+ and Network+ certifications are also beneficial. Additionally, consider Google’s Security and Support Specialist programs for their certifications.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Maxwell Wolfe?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Maxwell Wolfe in a program that’ll give you the tech skills you need to land your first job in tech.

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 July 24, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Anna Van Deusen

Anna Van Deusen is the Marketing Content Manager at Flatiron School. When not writing about tech and Flatiron School students, she can be found hanging out with her dogs on a beach…

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