We asked our Fall 2022 Cohort alum Aimé Fraser to tell us about her experience leading up to enrolling in the bootcamp—and what she's doing now. Here's her story.
The last few years have been hard on so many. I indeed found them so. When the pandemic hit, I was newly widowed. The company I worked for had just completed a significant reorganization that cost me my position as Regional Director. As the pandemic progressed, the company responded with additional cuts. By the time we got to the middle of the pandemic, I was out of a job.
Being newly widowed, I was still sorting out my finances, and I knew I needed a job immediately. I ended up at an Amazon warehouse, working overnight (it paid $1.25 an hour more), enforcing social distancing in the lunchroom and entrance. It was scary, lonely, and exhausting. I finally got a better-paying day job. However, that fell apart when a close family member suffered severe complications from surgery and needed round-the-clock care.
I'm at an age when most of my friends are preparing to retire, but the last several years have made that an impossibility for me. I've had some great jobs in my life—entrepreneur, boatbuilder, editor, designer, author, cabinetmaker, and corporate executive. I've also had less exciting work, such as merchandiser, fishmonger, cleaner, delivery driver, and spitter-of-rotisserie chickens at the grocery store. What I want now is a career that challenges my intellect and in which I can have a positive impact on the world.
I bought my first computer in 1983, a Leading Edge IBM-compatible (Intel 8088 at 4.77 MHz, 256K RAM, Two 5.25-inch floppies, CGA 640x200 pixels). I was online before the public internet was widely available. What was once a place of such promise for making life better for everyone on Earth has become a battleground between good and evil. We used to go on bulletin boards and talk about how information wanted to be free and how this knowledge would bring all the world together in peace and freedom. I still believe in the internet's promise and decided it's time for me to work directly in the fight to change the world.
I'm at a place where I don't want to wait around any longer, so I chose Level Effect. I was impressed with the instructor's credentials. I also liked how the curriculum follows NIST guidelines and focuses on defense. Vital to me was the sense of community fostered by the nightly Zoom meetings and the breakout sessions. Working together to solve problems gives fresh insights, and the support we give one another helps us work hard and excel. I'm proud to be part of a community of defenders who will have each other's backs over the long run.
I so much enjoyed the weeks of diving deep and studying hard. Every aspect of our studies intrigues me, and every new topic prompts more exploring. Cybersecurity challenges us on every level and requires a commitment to ongoing research to remain current. That's perfect. Nothing makes me happier than connecting ideas to create new understanding.
I am focused on defending critical infrastructure, but other aspects of the field also appeal. As a woodworker and designer, I'm a hands-on problem solver. I've always worked my way through a problem by trying things to see what works. So, digital forensics, reverse engineering, or vulnerability testing all sound like great jobs. As a boatbuilder and sailor, I've also spent a lot of time thinking about how to build safe and resilient structures, systems, and processes. This aligns with GRC. As an author (I've published five books and many magazine articles), I enjoy every step of the threat intelligence process, including copyediting and layout.
Instead of retiring, I've just graduated into a field where hard work and knowledge matter. I am thrilled to enter a new career on the front lines to make the world a better, safer place.