How a Communications major became a Cyber Security Analyst

Tell us about yourself

Hi! My name is Thelma Rodrigues. My nationality is Cape Verdean and I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts. I graduated from Boston College in 2012 with a degree in Communications, with a Pre-Law concentration.

Now, I am a cyber security analyst in the Cyber Security Operations Center at Capital One. As analysts, we are the first line of defense against cyber threats.

A fun fact about me is I used to play rugby for 6 years and I was captain of my college team for three years. Now, I enjoy doing graphic design, painting, and playing softball in my free time. When I first moved to DC, I volunteered for one year with City Year (AmeriCorps). Service remains something that is very important to me.

Tell us about how you landed your current role. You have a B.A. in communications. How did you make the switch to tech?

Before I came to Capital One, I was working as a junior forensic consultant. I got to that position by shadowing co-workers, doing online training, and learning from work experience. I volunteered to handle new tasks and take on responsibilities to help my team.

I started as an administrative assistant, then I was promoted to a project assistant and finally a junior consultant. After my promotions, I studied and took two certification exams. I became a Certified Forensic Hacking Investigator and a Certified Computer Forensics Examiner. I was always interested in cyber security, so I did online trainings to learn about it, learned Python, and attended cyber security meetups to network.

I was on Meetup.com looking for events and hackathons when I found the Women in Tech Demo Days Hackathon in 2016. I had no idea that it was a Capital One event. I showed up that day with some ideas, met a group, and we ran with it. I gave my first pitch that day and I was so nervous!

But I had so much fun, learned a ton, and met awesome people that I am still connected with to this day. Shortly after the hackathon, I learned of an open position at Capital One on the cyber security team. I applied and interviewed, then I started at Capital One in my DREAM job!

I had no idea when I attended WIT Demo Day that I would end up working at Capital One. I think it was a sign of many good things to come for me and I’m so glad I attended it. I can’t encourage you enough to attend and pitch at hackathons! It’s great experience and can lead to expanding your network for future career opportunities.

What are some resources that helped you in your journey in tech?

Meetup.com helped me find tech events where I could network and learn more about technology for free. I was able to build confidence in myself through meeting other people in the industry, especially women who were leading examples of what I could be.

The best learning resource I had was Pluralsight, which allowed me to learn everything and anything technical. I still use it to this day! It is an immense repository for technical trainings.

I will always encourage having mentors, shadowing people if you are interested in what they do, and networking as great learning resources.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in tech?

When I was younger, I had an interest in technology. I did A+ Computer Training as a teenager, but was discouraged when I was the odd girl out in a class full of boys. And then on top of that I failed the certification because I was scared to ask for help in class. I wish now that I kept going because I might have found my passion for technology sooner.

So my advice to younger women is: go for it! Never give up. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, do it anyway. And ALWAYS ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You have nothing to lose in following your dreams, so just go for it. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


Register for Capital One’s WIT Experience and join women in tech from all over for a day of skill-building, networking and fun.

 

Disclaimer: I partnered with Capital One on WIT Experience to highlight and support women in tech. Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! To learn more about Capital One, visit www.capitalonecareers.com.

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