The National Cyber League (NCL) was a transformative experience for me. Through the three years I participated, I went from a sophomore who didn’t know a single thing to co-running our university’s cybersecurity team as a senior. Because I participated, I was able to find everything from conference opportunities to friends in the industry. Hell, I had originally reached out to hacker meetups an hour away because I wanted more material to teach my team!
Finishing my final season was bittersweet.
I had gotten on the leader board, but it was the last time I’d be able to do so. Now it was off into the work world for me. Sure, there are other CTFs, but there’s something special about the one that had been a major stepping stone for getting my first job out of college. It was a few months after graduating and settling into my new job that Kait suggested I apply to be an ambassador.
I met Kait and Jeana at the Women in Cybersecurity conference through chance. Well, if chance is also defined as spending 85% of the conference in the NCL coaching rooms. I had set up shop there because of how many people I was getting to meet and talk with. As much as I loved competing, I also loved working through these problems with a pack of friendly strangers that were all united by one common goal: learning new ways to solve problems. I even loaned out my extra bootable Kali USB to a wonderful lady I met during the NCL setup on the first day and talked her though a couple of the tools that I knew would be useful.
By the end of the conference, Jeana, Kait, and I had a Facebook group chat where we promised to keep in touch. Fast forward 4 months and I was looking at a google form asking me why I wanted to be an NCL Player Ambassador.
I didn’t apply because I like giving presentations. Despite my ability to be personable and social in more relaxed settings, putting me in front of an audience makes me want to run off stage screaming into the sunset. I also didn’t apply because I know everything about the cybersecurity field. I’m still very new and have so much to learn from the people around me.
If anything, I applied because of the people.
Teaching and helping others is something I’ve always found a lot of joy in. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but if I have the opportunity to make the cybersecurity field seem less daunting and make resources more accessible, why wouldn’t I? My whole goal for creating the college NCL club was to learn to teach at a level that was understandable to people who had never touched the stuff.
Being an NCL Ambassador would allow me to work on that same thing, but on a much broader scale. Weekly blog posts on individual tools or subjects and live shows where we get to directly interact with the students? Sure, I was worried about my work being criticized publicly, but I suppose it’s a matter of “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.