John Dunlea, from the class of 2010, works in Cyber Security for Moody’s, a credit ratings agency in the financial services sector in New York.
Why did you do BIS?
I did BIS as I was always keen on studying business. However computers was a minor interest of mine while in school and I had heard good things about the BIS program and the internship opportunities that it provides. The open day really did sell it for me also, when we saw that computer labs and the integration that the course had between its lecturers and its students.
What was the best thing you got out of the course?
I think I got a lot of valuable things from the course. The internship program for me was what carved out the start of my career as I received an offer to return to a full-time position with my internship company. I think this real world experience on my internship was crucial for me when I began my professional career.
I also think that the course did a very good job in teaching us how to gather requirements and satisfy them with technology. Everyday there are new ways that technology is solving both old and new problems. The BIS course gives the students the perfect mix of technological skills and business skills to lead the process of applying technology as a business solution. I suppose in a nutshell, that is the most valuable thing that I got from the course. Having the right mix of technology and business skills to lead that process in the workplace. #gettherightmix is a fitting hashtag!
Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I went to GlassHouse Technologies in Boston. It was great experience and lead me back to the US after 4th year and allowed me begin my career in the US.
Where are you now?
Now I work in cyber security at Moody’s in New York City.
How did you get this job?
I was consulting for my second employer (Perficient) and I performed a project at Moody’s. Later on, one of their people contacted me about this role to see if I would be interested. I interviewed and got the position. I had very little experience in cyber security, however the analytics tool that was being used for their security analytics is one which I am an expert in from my previous positions at GlassHouse and Perficient. The technology is called Splunk.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
When I was an intern at GlassHouse in 2009 I remember sitting at the back of a conference room during a presentation and one of the full-time consultants leaning over to me and whispering, “Get into IT security and you will always have a job”. This was long before cyber crime exploded into the massive industry that it is today. However later on in my career I did make a conscious effort to move out of consulting and into this field as it is a growing industry right now and a good space to be in.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge has been moving from one industry to another. It’s hard to move out of something you know so well and into something you don’t. However I think, and this is just my opinion, that it is often looked highly upon with future employers when they see that you have worked in many areas, but most importantly, learned something from each area you worked in. For me, moving from consulting to security was a big move and after I moved I started to wonder if I had done the right thing. I went from being someone who knew a lot about his industry to being someone who knew almost nothing about his new industry. It is often hard to make that jump but I think having done it, I am already seeing the benefits and I am learning an awful lot more than if I had stayed in my previous industry. As to “how” I overcame the challenge – I think I just kept learning and asked a lot of questions to my new peers to educate myself even further.
As a note, this is not to say that staying in one industry or area is a bad idea. However if early on in your career, you can safely say you learned a lot about one industry or area (and you could easily return to it in the future), and you are offered a position to jump into something new, then I think it may be very beneficial in the long run as it broadens horizons and knowledge.
Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I think I would have liked to focus a little more on coding at the start of my career. I think that being able to code (at least at a low level in a commonly used language) is a key for anyone working in technology. I studied coding in college, however after moving into the professional world where I may not have been coding as much, I should have stayed in touch more with this skill and worked on it in my spare time. I can code a little now but not the way I would like to be able to. Being able to code well allows you to create small technology solutions to problems you are faced with in your job on a regular basis. It also provides you the means to begin building on technology ideas that you may have in the future, even if it is just an idea for a website.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Unless you are dead set on going into something like engineering, or medicine or law, then consider BIS as it is an excellent course that leads its graduates into an absolutely enormous array of careers. I feel as though every company that operates today has a position that could be filled by a BIS graduate in some capacity. Business today operates on technology. BIS offers you the right skills in both to be successful in almost any industry!