• Cyrus

Interview - Kim (University Student)

"Good luck, have fun, and don’t be afraid to fail -that’s how you learn :)" - Kim

This time I'm interviewing my friend Kim, who is an Aussie in University. This one is less technical than the other ones, but I think her experience in University is interesting. It wasn't outright stated in the interview, but she is 19 currently. There's one more planned interview and after that there's nothing explicitly planned. If one of my friends offer to participate I might interview them. Anyway, enjoy. As usual, the most editing I've done is fix grammar and rephrase things to make them flow clearer.

Cyrus: I'll be asking you some basic questions and branching off if your answers permit it. Before we get started, do you have any questions for me?

Kim: No.

Cyrus: Alright. What are your interests within the IT world and how did you acquire them? Was there any incident that made you think "Hey, I wanna get into that. That seems cool"?

Kim: I'm interested in all little aspects of IT, whether that be technical sides of things or the non-technical sides of things. IT is always growing and I always love seeing new technology come about and how people are creating this technology, but I also enjoy how people can take different paths to creating the same technology. Its like maths - you got different ways to go about getting the right answer and that’s the same with IT. You can go in many different ways to get to the right solution to either help society or make people lives easier by making something just a little convenient in everyday use. There's nothing that really stood out to me that just seem cool for me to get into its just the innovation behind all technologies and all the possibilities with that technology is what got me really interested in this field.

Its like maths - you got different ways to go about getting the right answer and that’s the same with IT

Cyrus: When did your interest in IT get started? Do you have any specific interests, or are you just interested in IT in general?

Kim: Just interest in general. My interest in IT started when I was in high school, probably in year 7 where we were making really simple websites and it grew in year 10 when we had to create our own app - well not really create but design our own app - and see how it would be useful in the real world.

Cyrus: You're a freshman in university now, yeah?

Kim: is freshman first year uni? Cause I'm second year uni.

Cyrus: Nah, you're a sophomore. The grade levels and their typical ages are different in Australia compared to the US. It's confusing.

Anyway, what are your current career goals?

Kim: In terms of career I’m not sure where I want to go in the IT Field as overall because as I said before there are technical and non technical sides of IT and I don’t know where I fit yet. Right now I’m just jumping around and trying everything and see what I enjoy doing.

Cyrus: You're an Asian woman in a mainly male dominated field. Personally, I haven't noticed any sort of discrimination or devaluing within the communities I'm in or any of the classes I've taken. With that being said, do you have any stories to tell or any experiences to share?

Kim: So, in my first year of uni (Semester 1) I had to take an intro course to IT and it was male dominant so I was the only girl in my class. No one really talked to me unless I initiated conversation first, but then they would say I wouldn't be able to do the first assignment and that was to create a simple HTML page. I said “I can code I don't need your help” but they kept trying to boast about how guys are better at IT and that I would be lucky to get a pass. So I didn't talk to them till the assignment was due and got our marks back and they asked me what I got. I didn't answer I asked what they got. They were boasting at 30-45/50 and I got 50/50 for it and they never talked me down again. So just standing my ground really kinda pushes me a bit more to try and do better than who pushed me down just because I am a girl. In my workplace no discrimination whatsoever we all get along and no one cares about your gender as long as you can output the best results and perform at a high level. That’s all they care about.

So just standing my ground really kinda pushes me a bit more to try and do better than who pushed me down just because I am a girl.

Cyrus: Do you have any advice to anyone facing any sort of discrimination?

Kim: Honestly, stand your ground. You know who you, are don't let anyone bring you down. Show them you are stronger. Don't do something petty back and just do you and be your best you.

Cyrus: What do you do as a job? How do you fit that in along with Uni work along with daily life?

Kim: My job can consist of Reverse engineer work, software dev work, sysadmin work, design work, and business analyst work. I can rotate between these different fields and see where I like most and what I like doing most. So, I work 3 days a week and uni 2 days a week doing 4 units can be quite hectic at times when uni work loads gets more heavy and when group assignments come around it can be quite hectic. My daily life can go from being really social to non-existent because I don't have the time to talk to everyone and go out for brunches. I just need to smash out uni work so I try my hardest to get uni work over and done with as soon as I get it so I can balance out my social life just a little bit. Until I graduate uni I will be able to work in any field I can chose within the organisation I am working in.

Cyrus: What do you currently enjoy the most? Do you do any learning outside of Uni?

Kim: I’m currently enjoying my RE project right now. It’s really fun and I am learning heaps of new things everyday as I had no knowledge of RE to begin with. I currently do not have the time to do any learning outside uni, I am packed with heaps of group assignment and need to dedicate my time to them. When I do get a rest I want to sit around and just let myself relax for a little bit, but I do have family commitments I need to uphold in my household and that does take up my time as well. Until I have a break I won't be self-learning anything until I have the proper time to sit down and really teach myself properly rather than in intervals with lots of distraction.

Cyrus: What sort of tools do you use in your workplace?

Kim: For RE right now we've been using IDA pro for binary analysis although we've been testing out Ghidra. For documentation we've been using Atlassian Confluence and Jira. For version control we've been using Bitbucket. We try to do most things on the cloud.

Ghidra is a tool for reverse engineering that has been recently released by the American NSA. While it is currently closed source, the NSA has stated that it wants to make it open source in the future.

Cyrus: What sort of cloud services do you use? Can you go more into depth? If you can't I understand, I just find this interesting and I'm sure some people reading this will too.

Kim: Unfortunately I cannot go into detail into what cloud service my business uses but we tend to make a bunch of virtual machines to do work on them. The business is pushing hard to put things on the cloud rather on our personal machines - I’m not sure why since I only just started this job a 1 month ago. I can tell you a story about what happened once when we were slack with security of one of our virtual machines.

Cyrus: Yeah, I'd like that.

Kim: So one of my co-workers didn't put the right security settings on one of his virtual machine - luckily there was nothing on there that was important but china ended up hacking it in the first 30 minutes it was up.

Cyrus: What's the protocol for when things go wrong in your workplace?

Kim: So we have things called security breaches. If you ever reach a breach it will be on your record and if you are consistent on these breaches then you can be fired from your job, but because we are just uni students for the time being we have cake breaches so if you don't lock your screen when you do things like leave your desk, when you leave your drawer unlocked you have to bring in a cake. This is to help us when we go into the bigger side of the business because in the bigger side of the business it will be a security breach amd you have a chance of getting sacked for doing it

Cyrus: Interesting. Are there any notable struggles you've faced in your workplace? Anything you're particularly good at?

Kim: To be honest, no because no one expects anything of you. They all know you are learning and trying your hardest to be the best person you can and try your hardest to be high performing. If you don’t know anything the business will give you training in it and make sure you get the skills you need to do the job. To be honest, I’m not the best technical person, but I really enjoy learning and I’m a quick learner who can adapt really quickly in the workplace. I’m a pretty social person in my workplace so I can talk to everyone if they are struggling or just having a bad day.

Cyrus: Do you have any suggestions for someone hoping to get into the IT field?

Kim: Honestly give it your absolute best shot. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re bad because you aren’t up to their standards, try your hardest and keep learning. Yes, there will be steep learning curves, but you’ll learn to overcome them just over time. Give your best effort, don’t give up. There is always space for you in the IT field whether it’s technical or non-technical, there is space for everyone and every brain matters. Just remember to keep learning and put in your best effort for the best results.

Just remember to keep learning and put in your best effort for the best results.

Cyrus: Is there anything you wish you knew sooner? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Kim: Nah, I wish I didn’t know anything sooner because IT is a field of where you learn and you give in your best effort you get the results you want. In my 5 years time I hope to still be working for the business I am in now, I hope to be in an area where I enjoy learning new things everyday, and I want to really be pushing myself to help my country with the work I am doing - if not in the business I hope to be in then in the military.

Cyrus: What's your overall plans with education? You mentioned wanting to do military work. What's your whole ideal plan with that?

Kim: So right now my degree at uni is a bachelors in information technology/political studies so I have a technical skill background along side a very analytical background. The business I am working for has spots for people like me who has tech skills but also analytical skills so I’m a very mixed person. My whole plan with military was not to do anything IT related because I wanted to go into the air force originally in hopes to become one of Australia’s first female fighter pilot but due to a knee injury I had to pull out of my application.

Cyrus: That's rough. So what's your plan with the military now?

Kim: My knee is still healing so I’m hoping by then I will be all fit again and give it another shot.

Cyrus: I see. My plan is to start community college, transfer to a state university after a few years, join the Air Force's cyber branch after I finish, and either go into a 3 letter agency for cybersec after a while or go into the police force. Ideally of course. As you probably know, nothing goes exactly to plan.

I believe that concludes all the questions i've had for you. Do you have any closing statements or anything you would like to add before we finish?

Kim: Good luck, have fun, and don’t be afraid to fail - that’s how you learn. :) Thank you for the interview. :)

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