Jr. Pentester - Junior Student
I had been working on a robot for a regional STEM competition when I had first heard of AntiguaRecon. It honestly had not initially caught my interest but after giving it some consideration and speaking with a teammate who had already applied and done an interview, I decided to take a shot at it. So, I visited the site, took a look around, then closed the window.
I knew nothing about cybersecurity and before hearing about the program, I didn’t even want to be a hacker. I mulled over the thought a little more and I finally came to my senses. Anxiously, I filled out the form in a hurry and sent out my first application. I waited, and waited, and waited.
In those weeks of waiting, the thought of my lackluster application haunted me. I knew it lacked depth and personality. Unable to shake the uneasy feeling, I revisited the site, this time submitting an application that told my story. I had not realized it at the time, but this was probably my first AntiguaRecon lesson... One that I would have hammered into my head (in the form of the dreadful note taking), and one I would hear on the first day of class: “If you’re going to do something, do it properly the first time”.
Within a week or two I received a call due to the second application and soon enough I would make it through the interview process. I attended my first class and despite my initial hesitations, I was almost immediately drawn in. However, that excitement quickly waned as the workload caught up with me. Between balancing my college course load, other extracurriculars and AntiguaRecon material with my “stellar time management skills” I found myself constantly falling behind. It had gotten to the point that I was ready to give up just a month into the program. When I reached out to Adam about my concerns, I was encouraged to push through, being reminded that this was not the time to quit and for that I’m grateful.
Within a month, I would complete my first CTF (capture the flag), an information security competition, alongside my teammates. This accomplishment fueled my drive and by the end of the following month, I was well on my way to catching up with the others.
Around this time, I was sent a flier for the 2023 Cyberwomen Challenge, a regional competition that welcomed women across the Caribbean with an interest in cybersecurity. The competitors ranged from those who have worked in the field for years, to those with a budding interest in cybersecurity, like myself. I went ahead and applied, thinking that it could be a great learning and networking opportunity and that was surely the case. However, I got a little more than I bargained for, when my team, consisting of myself and two other ladies, tied for first place.😁
This achievement gave me the motivation to get out my shell a little more and push a little harder than I did before. As paradoxical as it may seem, stepping out of my comfort zone was where I found a community – one where it’s ok to not know everything, and where you’ll constantly be encouraged to grow and improve.