Why I'm looking for a mentor in DFIR/RE
September 2, 2015
I am currently navigating outside of my comfort zone of 10+ years. I have both figuratively and literally moved to foreign lands. The problem is not having an established peer group in my new focus area. I can only ask Google or less-than-hopefully try tweeting for help. But it has occurred to me that what I am need of is a guiding force - a mentor. Someone with experience in this new area that can subtly point me in the right direction and, more importantly, coach me on the right way of thinking and analysing the problems I face.
Having been a dev, ops and devops guy for the entirety of my 20s I decided that making the Great Binary Spirits draw boxes on the screen wasn’t something I wanted to do for a living.
As I am now doing course alterations again to pursue my interests in understanding, combating and preventing malicous programs from causing harm I am thrown in an very uncomfortable situation. When I was learning programming in my late teens the whole ‘not knowing anything’ came with the territory and the only way was up towards more understanding through trial and error. I reached some sort of confidence in my abilities a few years after other people and held the course steady for several more.
But after a decade of graduating into a position of 'senior’ and/or 'expert’ in certain areas, it is very difficult throw that status away and to go back to being an apprentice.
Of course after listening to a lot of smart people talk about how to get what you want, live happily, find success etc. the key point they all seem to make is that you need to go out of your comfort zone. Get up and do. Never wait for change but make it yourself. I’ve heard them all previously, yet it is easy to brush them off as tired cliches when you are firmly standing in a familiar situation.
After I started this move towards uncertainty these thoughts and quotes are suddenly gaining weight. They are being rooted into reality instead of being wishywashy hippie talk.
Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.- William Butler Yeats
But as I am trying to strike, it feels more and more like flailing about, since breaching into a new career path provides so many stimuli that it is quite difficult to know which I should be reacting to and what I can gloss over.
And I keep telling myself that there must be a more efficient way of growing through these first steps as an apprentice towards better understanding.
The problem in finding a mentor/coach is that the folks who fit this description of "knowledgeable, can teach" are usually also doing some sort of consulting as their main or secondary job and as such trying to seek a master-apprentice relationship with them can easily be confused with my trying to get free training. Which I am not. Not trying to get free training or someone to solve my problems. I am looking for a sensei.
I am searching for something two-way. Any for-hire relationship is mostly a one-way flow of information. You pay someone with skill X to either solve an appropriate problem or have them teach you how to solve that problem. It’s not a discussion, not an exchange of ideas but "here’s how you do it, got it? here’s the bill".
I know what I want, because I am already mentoring two junior guys. With these guys, I want them to succeed. And I will try to guide them as best I can so that they can achieve that success on their own merit and hard work.
That is what I need.
This is why I am searching for a mentor.