“We’d have recruiters from these big Silicon Valley companies say to us, ‘Come work here...we have kegs of beer in the office and whatnot, but they’re not doing anything as cool as Raytheon [Technologies] – that’s protecting our nation, working with government and actually doing something, not just getting clicks,” she said.
Oltmann helped established the institute’s hacking club called FITSEC during her junior year and then had a chance to compete in NCCDC as a senior.
“The manager who hired me did mention that I did well in school, but then said, ‘Tell me about this hacking club you started,’ and, it wasn’t my grades that got me hired, although that didn’t hurt, it was the hacking club,” she said.
Oltmann said that participating in NCCDC opened her eyes to the various roles available in cybersecurity.
“Initially, I was very interested in red-teaming, and at FIT, we competed in a lot of red team events. We’d be given some sort of problem and we’d have to reverse-engineer it, but it was constantly breaking into systems,” she said.
Now, she is developing logging systems to identify possible intruders and malware on space systems that Raytheon Intelligence & Space builds.
“A lot of what I did at NCCDC translated when I began working at Raytheon Intelligence & Space,” Oltmann said. “I’m still asking myself, ‘How can I secure this system, and what services do I need to cut off?’ And so, I had done some security before, but the competition has directly correlated to my job now with challenging me to think, ‘How would an intruder get in, and how can I batten down those hatches?’”
Competing in NCCDC also shows employers not just job candidates’ skill sets and experience, but their focus and dedication too, Check said.
“The teams that are in the nationals didn’t get there by accident,” he said. “They know the different attacks that they’re going to face and how to mitigate those attacks. They’re inquisitive and continuous learners, and they want that next challenge. And they’re problem solvers, and more importantly, they’re problem solvers who don’t get frustrated. They’re already thinking about ‘What can I do better next time?’”