Starting Your Career in Tech? Advice from a Salesforce Security Whiz
Photo credit:Astha Singhal
What’s even more fun than building insanely innovative new tech products?
Just ask Astha Singhal. Originally from India, Singhal got her Masters in Information Security at Carnegie Mellon before joining Salesforce four years ago through our FutureForce university recruiting program. On the Product Security Team, Singhal was key to ensuring that the products and features we create are secure. Today, she runs the Salesforce AppExchange security review team, testing the security of all new apps before they go on the market.
As if that’s not enough to fill her days, Singhal also heads up university recruiting for our security team. In partnership with our #FutureForce team, she travels to college campuses to find, hire, and inspire the next generation of security engineers at Salesforce. Two years ago, she co-founded our Women in Trust Internship Program, which allows students to take on part-time internships during the school year in order to gain real-world experience in security and find out if it’s the right field for them.
“Not everyone who works in security has been a basement hacker since they were 13 years old. I first got interested in it when I took a security class in college,” Singhal explains. “Many women in tech don’t even know what a job in security entails, or how exciting it can be as a career. My hope is to expose more women to this growing field, teach them the tools they need to succeed, and usher in a new wave of Women in Trust.”
Here, Salesforce’s April Woman of the Month shares her top tips for starting out your tech career successfully … and why a future in security engineering looks bright.
1. Make yourself stand out.
When I meet with potential interns, I always look for candidates who actively pursue both technical and personal interests outside the classroom – candidates who are well-rounded. Additionally, when a candidate participates in Women in Tech campus initiatives, takes security classes, or has clearly gone out of their way to improve their knowledge in other areas, it proves to me that they are interested and passionate about this field.
2. Hold out for a role you really want.
When it comes to internships and first jobs, pass up the easiest opportunity for one that will give you a chance to explore a specialized field you are passionate about. When I was in college, I was qualified as a developer and could have gotten a development internship at many companies … but what I truly wanted was a role in security. So I waited for the right role that would allow me to get practical experience in that specific area, and that decision set me up for long-term success.
3. Choose the right company.
Think about what matters to you in an employer. Do you desire a close-knit culture, an emphasis on innovation, a fast-paced environment? Personally, I was looking for a company that was promoting and retaining women in STEM fields, rewarding and advancing employees based on merit, and prioritizing trust and security as a top value. I think it’s always important to seek out a company that prioritizes your field. Luckily, I found what I was looking for in Salesforce.
4. Consider Security Engineering.
Passionate about engineering and development, but not quite sure which specific area to pursue? I strongly encourage you to consider security. If you have a hacker mindset and the right background, it’s a very interesting field with a lot to learn. It’s so rewarding to look for vulnerabilities, find ways to improve, and ultimately build stronger and more resilient products. Remember: if you’re good at building things, you can be good at breaking things!
5. Continuously challenge yourself.
No matter where you are in your career, always look for new opportunities to grow and develop. I took on my new role managing the AppExchange security team about six months ago – I’ve never been a people manager before, so my interpersonal relationships with my team are something I’m really focusing on. And after I get that under my belt … the sky’s the limit!
Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. We showcase career stories to illustrate how a wide variety of women find success and fulfillment at supportive and inclusive employers.