Qingsong Chen: Biology to Cybersecurity
“My favorite part of the program was the hands-on labs. Only by getting your hands dirty can truly understand what you have learned.”
Qingsong Chen, an October 2022 Cybersecurity graduate from Flatiron School, began his career working in the biological sciences. But, a short 4 years in, he made the decision to pivot to tech.
He shares his journey of crossing continents and changing careers below.
Qingsong Chen began his career in China, first earning a degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from the Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, then working for four years as a Laboratory Assistant. But, despite his burgeoning profession in the biological sciences, he felt that something had to change.
“I wasn’t living the lifestyle I wanted and my field of interest was more in IT,” he explained. “After researching the fields of tech I found myself very interested and eager to learn more; working in tech also felt like ‘my type’ of lifestyle.”
He took his time exploring different aspects of tech, trying out coding languages and software to see what he liked most.
“I pursued self-learning in all areas of tech including Java, front end development, python, and cybersecurity,” he said. “I found out that I was most interested in Cybersecurity. So, I decided to leave the medical field and pursue a career I would enjoy.”
To expedite his transition into Cybersecurity, Qingsong began looking into bootcamps that would teach him the skills he needed to land his first job in tech. Eventually, he decided to apply to the Flatiron School Cybersecurity program.
“I did a lot of research before choosing Flatiron School,” he recalled. “Ultimately, I made the decision primarily based on the feedback from some graduates and a little bit of instinct. I also hoped to network with other students entering the field.”
Qingsong enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time online Cybersecurity Engineering Live program. An accelerated course, it is designed to equip students with the foundational skills needed to break into the Cybersecurity industry. While he recalls initially finding it difficult to adjust to the “entry-level knowledge gap,” he appreciated the labs that equipped him with real-world skills.
“My favorite part of the program was the hands-on labs,” he said. “Only by getting your hands dirty can you validate and truly understand what you have learned.”
The Job Search
Upon graduation in October 2022, Qingsong entered a tech job market that had recently been shaken by layoffs at big-name companies. But, despite the “hard” job search, Qingsong’s Flatiron School career coach supported him throughout.
“My career coach helped a lot with my resume and my LinkedIn profile,” he said, “and we communicated regularly to discuss what I could improve in my job search.”
Ultimately, Qingsong accepted a tech-adjacent role at a technology company in Fremont, California. Though not the Cybersecurity role he’d initially set his sights on, he is confident that his current position will set him up for success moving forward.
“Though I was not yet able to land a job in Cybersecurity, I got an offer as a Server Repair Technician in a big company. In only 4 months I’ve become widely recognized as a reliable and capable person,” he said. “I’m hopeful I’ll be able to take the next step in my Cybersecurity career soon.”
Reflecting On His Journey
Looking back on where he began – a continent and a career ago – Qingsong’s takeaway is the importance of leaning into the challenge to get valuable experience.
“I was able to complete tasks that were a bit over my experience level, as I learned a lot each time I got stuck. There were challenging tasks that took tons of time, but every minute was worth it. I am proud that I was able to hang in there and overcome the problems I’ve encountered.”
As for his advice to other upcoming graduates, he recommends considering a tech-adjacent job as a stepping stone.
“Breaking into the field of Cybersecurity is hard especially if you don’t have related experience,” he explained. “I would advise current students to consider other tech-related jobs to start with and build a way towards Cybersecurity. For example, if you’re offered a Network Engineer role but not a Cybersecurity role, consider taking it to start with.”
Ready For A Change, Just Like Qingsong Chen?
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of 14 October 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ. For up-to-date information visit FlatironSchool.com.
Posted by Anna Johnson / October 14, 2023
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