Leslie Washington is a firm believer in learning concrete skills. Coming from a big military family, she joined the U.S. Navy after high school, excited about the real world experience and travel opportunities that lay ahead. From standing on plane wings while washing down aircrafts, to organizing facilities for command events, to participating in surveillance flights during Desert Storm, Leslie’s military career was unique to say the least.
She had a number of interesting navy positions, most notably working the flight line after completing air traffic control school. Her job was to work outside, in the freezing temperatures of Iceland, to bring aircraft carriers in safely.
Shown above with her command in Iceland, Leslie completed three tours during her five-year enlistment then knew it was time to go back to school. She completed an Associates Degree in Electronics Engineering from ITT Tech before being recruited by Texas Instruments, moving from Jacksonville, Florida to Dallas, Texas. In 1996, intrigued by the rise of personal computers, she took a data entry job in a Dallas school district that morphed into a Help Desk Analyst position when she took initiative and started answering the phones.
She earned several certifications and had a successful IT career for twenty years, before the technology that she was so passionate about ended up replacing the need for her position. “It’s ironic that the check scanning technology I was working on ended up displacing my job,” she said. “I thought I would retire with Wells Fargo, and then I assumed it would be easy to get a new job, but that was not the case. It had been 13 years since I’d been to an interview – they didn’t even ask the same questions anymore! It was like entering a whole new world and I was completely lost.”
She was handed a flyer for an NPower cyber security training program and felt things begin to click into place. “The biggest thing that drew me to cyber security was my personal experience as a victim of identity theft. In 1998, I noticed that four of my checks had cleared, but it wasn’t me who had used them. That was my first encounter with identity theft and since then I’ve always been on high alert. I saw other people become victims, saw companies being attacked, and knew I wanted to be on the side preventing those things from happening. I just wasn’t sure how to pursue a cyber security career,” she said.
NPower, a leading education nonprofit and Symantec partner, offers the Symantec Cyber Career Connection(Symantec C3) program to prepare young adults and veterans for careers in cyber security. Symantec C3 combines rigorous classroom-based training that prepares students for key certifications, followed by substantive hands-on internships and job placement support.
Leslie was accepted into the Symantec C3 program at NPower and received her Cyber Security Analyst Certification. She was the first in her class to complete each of the certifications, and always went back to her classmates, helping them study to ensure they too would pass. She won an NPower award for supporting her classmates in this way and went on to not only guest lecture for future Symantec C3 classes, but also hosted a study group as the next cohort prepared for test day.
I was really excited to help out my classmates. After each certification test I couldn’t wait to get back to my car to jot down all the notes that I thought might help the others pass, she said.
Leslie completed her Symantec C3 internship was at Citi, and was then hired on fulltime as part of their cyber security group. She loves her work researching global alerts, is proud of herself for starting yet another new and interesting career, and feels that Symantec and NPower helped get her here.
“I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy and a proud alumni of the Symantec C3 program. I haven’t seen any other programs that offer the level of training and support that Symantec and NPower do. Robert Vaughn, the NPower instructor on my first day, was awesome. The more he taught us, the more I wanted to learn. The program made me and my classmates strive to do better in so many parts of our lives. It’s pushed me to work on things that are hard for me, like public speaking, in addition to helping me land a new and rewarding career. As alumni, we still get together, challenge each other, and reach out to newer students to see how we can help. I know for a fact that the program has changed the lives of many people, including my own.”
We appreciate and recognize all military veterans and their families across our company and partners, and thank all veterans for their selfless service.
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