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Jeremy Daniels, Cyber Analyst at HPE
In 2022, Jeremy Daniels graduated with his degree in Computer Science from Prairie View A&M University. He has since begun his career in cybersecurity with HPE as a cyber analyst.
Jeremy is passionate about giving back to his community and, among everything, he finds joy in the activities that foster lifelong experiences and memories.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
NCA: What were early signs growing up that hinted cybersecurity might be your place?
I have my aunt who studied computer science at Lamar University, and seeing her I always said, “Man, I want to do what she does.” She’s in business – she’s the aunt that’s going around and using her connections.
Once I got a little older, I started to understand her degree more in terms of the programming aspect and everything. I was also forced into technology because my family always relied on me to fix the technical issues around the house. It started there and blossomed. Once I got to college, I started thinking more and more about how diverse computer science was.
NCA: What is your educational background?
I received my bachelor’s in computer science from Prairie View A&M University in May of 2022. I chose Prairie View because it is a gem in the south. A lot of engineering schools around here aren’t as diverse as Prairie View. I really appreciated the value of the education that was hitting me at Prairie View while also still being culturally tied to so many individuals who were like-minded in that field.
NCA: How do you think attending an HBCU impacted your career?
A lot of my colleagues now, they’re some of the best people that I know and they’re eager to learn, they’re ready to access the world. They also have the opportunity to share more light on the gifts that an HBCU can produce.
NCA: How did your passion for cybersecurity blossom while at college?
I started finding a love for cybersecurity within my degree coursework. The investigating and reporting aspect of cybersecurity, that stuck out to me because I’ve always been a person who wanted to know more information and see what goes on behind the scenes.
I feel like cybersecurity has fit that need for me because now I get to see some of the things before they are talked about on the news. I can try to keep my family updated on those topics and then they come back a day or two later: “Man, I just heard about this, blah, blah, blah,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I told you about it a few days ago.”
NCA: Talk us through being an intern during the pandemic.
Within the pandemic it was harder to make friends and to make connections at work because so many people were going through different things. Outside of work it was a little crazy to say, “Hey, let’s jump on a Zoom just to talk.” It wasn’t that people didn’t do it, but it was a little different because after work, a lot of people were going to take care of family members, or just be around family to unload the workday stress, so as an intern during the pandemic, it was a little different.
I think overall the pandemic has made it harder to make friends and to meet new people across your network. But it also has made that shift to focusing on your mental health and your work-life balance.
NCA: After being an intern for three years you were promoted to a cyber analyst. How has your role in the company expanded in your transition from intern to a full-time employee?
It’s more of a proactive stance as a full-time employee, because you’re no longer waiting for someone to do anything for you or to guide you through the process. You kind of hit the ground running to see how far you can go while still being mindful of the team. It’s a collaborative effort for sure. As an intern they were more so worried about one project at a time, whereas now I’m getting into conversations of how do we get ahead of these threat actors?
NCA: What does it mean for HPE to be named a top 20 company for America’s best employers for the new grads of 2022?
It shows how willing the company is to change that corporate culture. Gone are the days of needing 10 years of experience as soon as you graduate college, especially in technology. They are willing to mold people who are just joining the team.
Overall, it’s a rewarding experience because you can see in every employee that they care about your advancement. They want you to grow in the company.
NCA: What is your advice to someone thinking about a cybersecurity career?
I’d say with cybersecurity if you have a will to learn and to grow, I think you’ll be set in cybersecurity. One of my mentors told me the technical skills can always be taught, but it’s the emotional intelligence that you must come here with.
As long as you have an open mind going into it, I think a lot of people can have that opportunity to get into cybersecurity.
NCA: What are some highlights of your career so far?
A great achievement was my first threat hunt that I did completely by myself. I got all the information I needed, conducted my research, and did a few pivots to find more information on that threat group. I think it was a crowning achievement because that was the first thing that I did on my own as a fulltime employee.
But overall, I think one of my other aspects that I really enjoyed of my career is just helping others out … I’d say sparking that interest in other people is another highlight in my career.
NCA: What do you like about working in cybersecurity?
You look and see people who are actively trying to breach into certain networks, who are trying to exploit different vulnerabilities. There’s something about it that makes me excited because it’s like, everybody doesn’t see this on a day-to-day basis. For me to be able to help and do my job in terms of remediating some of these issues, it’s amazing.
NCA: What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I love spending time with family and friends. I am an avid video gamer (right now I currently play Marvel’s Avengers). I’m a person who likes to make lasting memories, because we don’t have a lot of time in life. I’m trying to adopt a new mantra of living: working to live instead of living to work.
NCA: Why do you think there is a gap in the workforce and what can we do to bring people in?
I think overall there’s a misconception of what’s required. Really there’s an opportunity for everybody. Any skill that’s used in the everyday world can be transferred over into cybersecurity.
We should also take into consideration how we can elevate those people who want to be in cybersecurity in order to get them in. Because a lot of the times it’s not what you know, it’s just the fact that you have the personal skills, you have the personality for it. Those technical skills can be taught to you later.
Here’s the thing: time is up to you. It doesn’t matter what age you are when you started in cybersecurity. It doesn’t matter what age you think you would be acceptable. If you have the hunger to learn more, time isn’t a factor.