Right Gifts, Wrong Field

By Paul Hawkinson
Jan 3, 2023

I had the pleasure of getting the story of how Michelle Pupoh, Senior Director of our Academy, made a massive career shift and landed where she is today. Here’s what she shared:

I trained to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. Eight years of learning about Freud, Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, and sitting with people in their trauma – all to end up leading a school for cybersecurity.

But after spending a year as a counselor, I was miserable. I wrestled with the lack of progress my clients were experiencing. It didn’t take long to see that my knack for discerning and finding solutions to problems, coupled with my innate ability to encourage people, was grossly misguided into the wrong field. I was a great problem solver, not a great counselor. There is a big difference.

Michelle Pupoh, Senior Director of the Academy at the Carolina Cyber Center of Montreat College

The next several steps are too long to address here, but the highlight is that my drive to grow, learn, and better myself and my opportunities were consistent. I was willing to leave eight years of education behind to find something new that fit better with my natural talents and skills. I’ll be honest; there were times when I wondered if I had what it takes to career shift, to put myself out there and try something new outside of my comfort zone. But every time I thought about where I was and what I knew was possible, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more out there. I heartily believed I could find a career that employed more of my natural talents and provided better financial stability.  

I’ll give you a spoiler that took me a while to figure out: all the training I had in counseling helped me succeed in my new career. I didn’t leave a lifetime of skills and training behind; bringing them with me into my current job has helped my success. When you leave a career behind, you don’t leave all of it behind…why would you? No, instead, you bring it with you, allowing you to add uniquely to your new role; few others have your experience. Your 10-20 years in another field are valuable in cybersecurity. I promise.

I had to learn I was not stuck. You aren’t, either. There are options and opportunities out there and we have to be willing to go after them. The one I’m most excited about right now, and that I would invite you to consider if you are interested in cybersecurity, is our Academy’s Cybersecurity Training Program. It will take time, effort, and intentionality to learn new skills that will set you up for a new career. However, it won’t require you to quit your job and put your family at financial risk. Within a year and a half, you will have the training and hands-on experience necessary to pivot into a field that is both continually growing and stable enough to support you financially.

If you’re where I was and need a change, get in touch! We’re happy to tell you more about our program and how it will help you take that next step in your career journey.

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Carolina Cyber Center
of Montreat College

310 Gaither Circle
P.O. Box 1267
Montreat, NC 28757

(828) 419-0737

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*First attempt for certification included. The cost for additional certification attempts is the responsibility of the student.