2020, You Know?

If you’ve read other articles on my blog, you already know that I’m a recovering web developer who switched career tracks to enter the world of cybersecurity. A big part of the process involved returning to college full-time to finally get a Bachelor’s degree.

It is done.

I have submitted the last assignment and taken the last exam. Now all that remains is the paperwork and I will have achieved a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity. (… and there was much rejoicing.)

Part of me wants to run around in the streets, shouting for joy and telling everyone I see about this accomplishment. Another part of me feels like this is just another day that ends in “Y”. This kind of dichotomy in my thinking is nothing new, but it is particularly aggravating because I really want to be overjoyed.

But… 2020, you know?

Years ago, when I was still working on my Associate’s degree, I made myself a promise. When I achieved a Bachelor’s degree, I would fly out to Florida (where the campus is for the school I have been attending), walk through the Commencement ceremony, then drive to Orlando and party for a week at Disney World. That was the dream, and I cannot tell you how many annoying assignments and dark nights that dream helped me get through.

But… 2020, you know?

Courtesy of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, that dream has turned to vapor and blown away in the wind. I have multiple pre-existing conditions that increase my chances of having a severe response if I come down with COVID-19, and Florida hasn’t exactly taken the virus seriously, in spite of everything. Granted, I don’t expect Disney World to become a super-spreader location like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but I am leery of any place where people gather in great numbers, and that fear has killed my dream more completely than I could have imagined possible.

Then there is the reality of getting a full-time job in cybersecurity. Folks I know at various cybersecurity companies I do contract work for are under the impression that I will suddenly be overwhelmed with job offers and full-time opportunities. I keep telling them how wrong they are, but they still don’t get it. A typical entry level job posting in cybersecurity-related positions requires 3-5 years experience in the field, an active security clearance, and other not-at-all-entry-level requirements.

Don’t believe me? Do a search on your job board of preference, then come back and talk to me. And people complain about the “skills shortage” in the field. Of course there’s a skills shortage, dummy! You won’t actually hire and train anybody!!! NOBODY gets the kind of experience you want from classes, CTFs, or certification training. YOU GET IT FROM DOING THE JOB!

The good news is that I don’t have to start paying back my student loans immediately. The bad news is that I need to significantly increase my positive cash flow soon. Me and pretty much everyone who isn’t in the 1%…

On the whole, I don’t have much to complain about. I can work from home, and I have skills I can leverage to address the cash flow problem. I have not personally lost anyone to COVID-19. And I’m a white homeowner. I have much to be thankful for, especially when I think of the people who work in hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, and package delivery services. I have even more to be grateful for when I look at the news and think about the hundred of children ripped from their families by our government, or the people of color who want nothing more than equality. Compared to them, the loss of my selfish dream is insignificant. But it still hurts.

2020, you know?

Then there is the upcoming election…

Yeah… It’s Friday, past noon… I think it’s time to get a drink.

* Being a recovering web developer is a lot like being a recovering alcoholic. No matter how hard you try, it’s under your skin and you’ll never be truly free…

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