In the San Francisco internet security industry, a bachelor’s degree or higher in the field is highly desirable and oftentimes mandatory, but occasionally, tech professionals go a different direction in college before discovering their niche.

(Photo Courtesy of Andy Steingruebl)

(Photo Courtesy of Andy Steingruebl)

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Andy Steingruebl, PayPal’s Director of Customer and Ecosystem Security, earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago. While not every student will follow his successful path to a long and respected career in information technology, his story is fascinating and he shares valuable insight for tech students seeking career advice.

What is your background and education?

“My formal degree is in philosophy, but before that I studied engineering and physics. Like law, philosophy often involves understanding and then explaining complicated and specialized ideas in everyday terminology, so my philosophy degree serves me well. I also learned to program at age 9, and have been passionately programming and using computers ever since.”

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What is your outlook on the internet security industry in San Francisco?

“Information security is rapidly growing and evolving, so I’m bullish on the market, and with security becoming increasingly important across the board, there will be a wide range of industries looking for security experts and a huge number of opportunities to specialize.”

What career advice can you share to students interested in a career in internet security?

“Become excellent in at least one thing, and then broaden your range as you go. Whether it’s programming, systems administration, networking, etc., master one or two key technology disciplines. Security is a very diverse field that requires skills up and down the tech stack, but by being truly excellent in one area you can understand a system deeply, and that’s a really critical skill in today’s market. I’d also say that some of the best security employees have experience in shipping products or resolving real security incidents, so seek out or insert yourself in those kinds of opportunities whenever you can.”

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.