After working 11 years as a human resources sergeant in the Army, Megan Missick decided it was time for a new career path.

Missick prepared to transition out of the Army beginning in 2016 by researching, networking and taking courses.

She began in the Corporate Fellowship Program at Rim Technologies through Fort Carson on Aug. 27. The fellowship is part of Hiring Our Heroes, a nationwide initiative that helps transitioning military service members and military spouses find employment opportunities.

After two weeks of the 12-week fellowship, Missick applied and was hired for her first civilian job at SecureSet Academy, a Denver-based cybersecurity training program for veterans. SecureSet also has offices in the Springs, which opened this year, and in Tampa Bay, Fla.

For a month, Missick has worked as the new cybersecurity career  program manager in the Springs office, where she helps transitioning veterans like herself find jobs in cybersecurity.

Now Missick can work at SecureSet during the day and be home at night with her 2-year-old son, making it easier for her husband, who is in the Army, to travel when required, she said. Missick spoke with the Business Journal about her career and the cybersecurity industry.

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What do you like about working in Colorado Springs?

I like Colorado Springs because having grown up in a small farm town, there’s so much to do here — you’re able to travel, do whatever you want to, but with the small-town feel. As big as Colorado Springs is, I don’t think [people] act in Colorado Springs like they act in Denver.

What challenges have you faced while transitioning out of the military? 

So many veterans stay [in Colorado Springs] … [and] you’re competing against every other veteran. If you’re going for the same job, you have to find out what sets you apart and what makes you a good fit for the company you want to work for. And everybody’s different — maybe they want to make $100,000 a year, and they don’t care if they [don’t get time off], but some people like me want that balance. I think another big part is knowing themselves and what they really want. You may get this job and think it’s great, but you may not have asked the right questions, so when you get in the job, you’re kind of stuck.

What is the status of the cybersecurity workforce in Colorado Springs?

There are thousands [of jobs] in Colorado Springs that need to be filled. … People are having issues finding employees with experience, so … [SecureSet is] bridging the gap between the experience and the training. …

People are realizing the importance of cybersecurity. With all the breaches lately it’s kind of a reality. It’s like, ‘Hey we really need this because we don’t want that to happen to us.’ That, combined with the fact that a lot of people with years of experience are about to retire. People are moving up the ladder, but that leaves entry-level jobs open. That’s going to be happening for several years.

How do we fill this gap? 

It’s opening

up and saying ‘Hey, we will take someone with a little less experience and train them,’ because you can always train someone to have experience, it’s just a matter of whether you’re willing to invest in that person. If you’re going to wait for an experienced person to fall into your lap, you could have had that [position] filled a little bit sooner with a more junior person.

What advice would you give to other young professionals transitioning out of the military?

In the past year and a half transitioning, a lot of people would ask me, ‘How do you find out about these classes?’ You have to do [the research] because people aren’t going to do it for you. … Find a good mentor too. Ask them, ‘What did you do when you first started? How do I get my foot in the door?’