It’s that time again!
Pumpkin spice time?!
Well, yes…but it’s also Employee Spotlight time! If you’re a first time reader of this series, our Employee Spotlights are dedicated to celebrating the hardworking employees of DomainTools by sharing their backgrounds, career paths, and their interests outside of work. We’re proud of what our employees bring to the table, both at work and outside of work – and we’ve got some very intriguing people we’re grateful to work with! So without further ado, I’m excited to introduce DomainTools Systems Engineer, Tracie Winslow!
How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?
Tracie’s career path didn’t begin in cybersecurity or infosec. Her original plan was to be a choir teacher, so she enrolled in the choral education program at Cal State Long Beach. She loves to sing and even made it to Carnegie Hall with her choir, but halfway through her program, she decided teaching wasn’t for her. It wasn’t all bad though – going to Cal State Long Beach meant she got to fulfill her dream of working at Disneyland.
So, what was next for Tracie? She moved to Utah and earned her Bachelor of Science in English with an emphasis in professional and technical writing from Utah Tech University. Unfortunately, it wasn’t made apparent to Tracie that Utah (at least at the time) didn’t exactly have a booming technical writing field. Not wanting to move again quite yet, she got into customer service. She found that she excelled at the work, but just because you’re talented in something doesn’t mean you’re passionate about it. The easy thing to do would have been to stay put in her career, especially since she was good at what she did, but Tracie set out for more.
The Road To Infosec
She began looking at going back to school, but she didn’t want to spend more time getting a degree – after all, the first one didn’t help her. She researched local educational opportunities and found the Enterprise Network Services certificate program at Salt Lake Community College’s School of Applied Technology & Technical Specialities. The program would prepare her to earn her Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. This would be Tracie’s hero origin story and the foundation of her new career path. By studying for her CCNA, she learned about Cisco routers and switches, DNS, and the foundation of the Internet.
Tracie had a friend at Farsight Security who, when he learned about her studies, thought she had the aptitude to be a “Farseer.” She submitted her resume, but that pesky imposter syndrome tried to tell her she wouldn’t get the job because she hadn’t yet finished her CCNA. However, those at Farsight saw her potential and hired her.
Because Farsight had the foresight, Tracie got the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the industry. A lot of the folks at Farsight were handpicked by Paul Vixie, one of the original DNS pioneers, so she was in the same space as some major players (who, fun fact, also have a touch of imposter syndrome from time to time).
Farsight Security was acquired by DomainTools in late 2021, so after being at Farsight a little over a year, Tracie had to navigate that change. Many will probably attest that going through an acquisition can be a time of uncertainty. But Tracie said it helped that most of her immediate team and command chain were the same, so it wasn’t like she had all new people to work with right away.
In April 2022, she had the chance to go to the DomainTools office in Seattle and got a firsthand experience of the culture. “There was a QR code next to the main door. I scanned it with my phone and it went to a Rick Roll video, and that’s when I thought, yeah, I like these people.”
Women in Tech
I asked Tracie what advice she would give other women looking to make a similar career change. She said that many women may not believe they’d be successful in these positions, and it’s simply untrue. People assume you need a degree and an aptitude for math to be in this field, and in actuality, it’s not always the case. As mentioned above, she’s been in rooms with her tech “elders” (not saying they’re old – don’t come for us – “elder” in that they’re experienced in the field) who were Googling while helping answer her questions. She’s found that Googling the right things, especially as an L1, is an important on-the-job skill.
Tracie recommends that if you’re interested in infosec but don’t want to apply right away, reach out to someone in the field for their recommendations. Tracie is open to being that person. Additionally, she said to look for resources in the community on platforms like Meetup. Tracie thinks that if it wasn’t for her friend at Farsight encouraging her to apply, she might not be where she is today, so community is important.
It’s also been Tracie’s experience that even though this appears to be a male-dominated field, the support she’s received from men in the industry has been overwhelming. They’ve been approachable and willing to answer questions to the point where she considered the group to be her “Farsight Uncles.”
With such a supportive team surrounding her, Tracie is excited for the future and knows there’s room to grow at DomainTools. She’s hoping to become an L2 by the end of the year.
Life Outside of Work
Remember how Tracie likes to sing? Well, it should come as no surprise that when she’s not working, she tears it up as a karaoke DJ. She’s also got a flair for hand embroidery and often shares what she’s working on. She moved from Utah to Massachusetts and enjoys exploring New England.
We’re looking forward to sharing other Employee Spotlights this year. In the meantime, if you’re interested in joining our team, check out our current job listings!