#4 – Taking a Step Back

A few people have reached out asking how I got into forensics, so before I dive too deeply into tech posts (and following up on yesterday’s iTunes Backup post), I figured I should stop to answer this.

As a child of the 80s, I grew up with the best TV shows – my favorites being Thundercats, Laverne & Shirley, MacGyver, and Inspector Gadget. The last two really drew me to puzzles, investigations, and keeping me curious. On top of that, my Dad had an old computer that I primarily used to play Avoid the Noid and figure out basic DOS commands when no one was looking. My parents really had their work cut out for them.

It wasn’t until high school that I really tried to figure out my path. My interests had shifted a bit to serial killers and their mentality. This was thanks to my fascination of the True Crime section at the library (365.1523 books) and Silence of the Lambs. The likely choice was to pursue a Psychology degree with the eventual goal of Forensic Psychology. Well, life happened, and I failed out of college with a whopping 0.3 GPA in my final semester.

Now in the predicament of figuring out my life, I started researching local tech schools. (My Dad insisted that I move in with him to get my life straightened out.) One local college was offering Forensic Science as a major – sweet! Organic Chem and Biology were my favorite subjects, so this seemed right up my alley. We learned all about crime scenes, photography, law, arson, ballistics, fingerprinting, serology, etc. It was incredible. After graduating, however, I quickly realized I needed more than an A.A.S. degree to get a decent job.

So, I went to a third college for my B.S. degree in Computer Forensics. I loved the classes! We had basic programming (in Visual Basic — shoot me), more law courses, file system analysis, network analysis, and hands-on data recovery. Our capstone was taking SANS FOR508 (back when it was mainly forensics 10 years ago) and earning the GCFA certification.

My first official digital forensics role came a couple months after graduation. It was a bit unorthodox, but I sent out paper résumés to companies (regardless if they were actively hiring) and promised to follow up with them the following week. It worked! One company, who was not hiring, decided to take a chance on me. I’ve since moved on from that company, worked a few other places, and am now a Director at my current location.

My advice to anyone starting out: TRY. FAIL. TRY AGAIN. Failure doesn’t mean you stop. Failure means you reevaluate the situation, make adjustments, and continue moving forward.

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