Hoodie Success Stories: BowTiedTuna
How he went from ZERO to $100k/y in 78 days
To say I’ve been waiting for a LONG TIME for this is an UNDERSTATEMENT.
BowTiedTuna is a friend and student of mine with a work ethic like none other.
And I’m happy to announce that he JUST ACCEPTED A JOB OFFER!
$100k/year as a SENIOR Network Engineer!
He did it with ZERO experience in just 78 days.
And the most impressive part is he did it WITHOUT relocating, in a town with an AVERAGE household income of just $55k.
He was previously making $60k/y as a teacher and he needed a change.
But don’t take my word for it.
He’ll tell you himself in this guest article.
And just like Tuna did, you too can start your Cybersecurity Career in 90 days.
UPGRADE to a PAID HOODIE in the STACK for EVERYTHING you need to go from ZERO to HOODIE and into a Cybersecurity Career:
What I love most about his story is just how raw and genuine he is.
LOTS of failures.
Just an honest look at what he did and why he got where he did.
This is his story.
“I’m going to kill you, you son of a b****!” the ten-year-old repeatedly screamed at me. This was a typical day for yours truly, Tuna being a teacher in a classroom with students who are emotionally disturbed or have other behavioral disabilities. The threat was nothing new, but my interior voice was borderline debating getting aggressive with the student to remind him he wasn’t. But alas, this was just a child, but I could feel my patience for being a children’s punching bag, disabled or not, was wearing thin, and it was a matter of time until I did something stupid that would derail my career. I determined I needed a career change, and fast.
I would be lying to you if I told you I was a disciple of BowtiedCyber since day one. I would always see his tweets claiming it was possible. I joined/canceled my paid substack to his subscription three times before going all in. I would see it, read someone's post under the tweet “scam,” and begin to waiver in if I could do it, and repeat the cycle. I finally did some outside research and saw some people saying you could do it if you followed the same thing as Cyber’s roadmap. Alright, I’m all in.
I have ZERO tech experience and have been a teacher or coach my entire professional career of 15 years.
One thing I did have going for myself was strong study habits. For Network+, I watched about half of the Udemy Dion course, read about a third of the all-in-one Meyers book, and took practice tests left and right. I had my daily routine set aside where I would study with pocket prep during the work day here and there, then 2-3 hours of blocked silence after the kids went to bed of focused study. I barely passed the network+, but I got it.
After you pass the network, Security is just a few more terminologies, but it's easier than learning Network at the beginning. I regretfully gave myself a week off as a treat for passing Network+, and I would have been better off striking while the iron was hot. Instead, I had to spend a week or so catching back up on things I learned from the network studies
I was very quick to realize Azure 900 potential. It’s an easy test that helps you overcome a few barriers that HR gatekeepers might set.
What got me my job, which we will discuss later, was significantly impacted by my portfolio. I caught a break that the hiring manager was the first person looking at the resumes. He checked my website and was highly impressed. He mentioned it several times, and at the time was the most impressive thing that got me into the interview. There isn’t a perfect thing to put into the portfolio but hop onto youtube and find some projects. Pro-tip: make a youtube video discussing what you did; it is simple, can be done in under an hour, and separates you from other portfolios.
I am a positive/build/ignore-only guy, so you will not catch me being negative to posters. Everyone is awesome to me. But you have to ask: What is going to make you get a JOB? Will you be the only or best applicant with zero experience? Probably not.
Some options most people have:
SHOW UP. Everyone wants remote because everyone thinks that means they don’t have to work. Make it clear that you are willing to show up every day ready to work.
Do work others don’t want. When I was a coach, everyone (wrongly) thought the head coach was the most vital to a program. Nope. It’s the junior high coach who is certified to drive the bus. Why? Because a head coach quits, there will be 100 new applicants, if that JH coach quits you might never fill. Are you willing to do a job no one else wants?
Example: my job is being a network engineer. We’re going to sweat. We’re going to hustle, and we are going to be nasty after a hard day's work. Are people willing to do that? Not as many. Want the cushy-a-screen all-day gig? Throw your resume in with the 100 other people.
Invest in yourself. I understand you’re here to make money, but no one will do it if you aren’t willing to roll the dice on yourself. I hired BowtiedHH to edit my resume, which was a terrific investment. I spent nearly $100 on resume paper, presentation folders, and thank you cards for my interviews, and I was not counting the outfit. I know that might not be reasonable for everyone, but what will separate you once again?
Whatever it is, you need to realize what separates you. What are you willing to bring to the table that someone with with experience isn’t going to bring? Remember, the hiring manager wants to determine who will be the best value for their job posting. Find a way to prove yourself.
It’s easy to say, “oh yeah, I can handle rejection.” It’s a lot different to get those denied letters and phone calls by the dozen daily. I ultimately punted on remote job opportunities and even filtered them out in my job search. Way too competitive for someone without experience, and I had nothing of value I could give a remote company they couldn’t get from someone else.
I did have one major handicap. I was making about 60K, working half the year…education sucks. It does. But it does have the benefits of summers off, spring breaks, two weeks of Christmas, and still ten vacation days on top of that. My contract is only 187 days. Why was this a negative? It would not make much sense to get a 70K IT job where I now have to work so much more. I would have to get at least 85K to find it worth giving up all the extra free time.
I was only applying to local jobs, but all jobs, not just cyber security. I learned quickly that there is no market barometer for your skills. You will get a 90K interview the same week $25 per hour tells you you’re underqualified. It is such a wild game that you never know who will call back.
I bombed, and I mean BOMBED, plenty of interviews. The first one over the phone I just hung up on. I was so embarrassed. Once we closed, I felt OK about it came time for my questions, “What’s the best thing about working at X-Corp?” “Well…I wouldn’t know because we work at Y-Force…” oh…yeah, I didn’t get that job. But I took note of every question I was asked in each interview, and for every question I bombed, I would go home and study for a better answer. I slowly pieced together a better response to most questions that would be asked in an interview.
A trick I found successful for interviews has a brand/theme you are bringing to the table. My brand for the discussion was, “I have a lot to learn, but you’ll only have to teach me once, and I’ll be the hardest worker here.” I would reword this for many of the different questions asked. Even with questions, I knew the answers too. I would respond with the correct answer and say I am competent, still, have much to learn, and am excited to put this into practice and see it in action. It gives the interviewers a better sense of who you are rather than pretending to be an expert here, then clueless here. Let them know what they are getting and stay on brand.
The interview I crushed. I had some great one-liners that just fell into place. Someone asked a question along the lines of what motivates/pushes you to do better, and an answer I was very proud of was:
“Fear. I have an exaggerated fear of letting people down, and fear pushes you to do things that make you uncomfortable and forces you to become someone you’re uncomfortable being. If you hire me for this job, the fear of letting you guys down when you took a chance on me will push me to improve to an uncomfortable limit to ensure that you never regret giving me this opportunity.”
I crushed it.
Yeah…I didn’t get the job. They said they would let me know in a couple of days. A week later, I got an automated response about going in a different direction. I was absolutely crushed. Then the hiring manager called to inform me they were promoted from within. I kept grace and thanked him for the opportunity. “Well, we were so impressed there’s a second opening, and we want you to reapply.” Well, the rest is history. I’ve landed and couldn’t be more excited about this new opportunity. I got a Senior Network Engineer job that pays 90K and has full health insurance for my benefits (plus bonuses and paid training).
Why Cyber’s plan is the best, isn’t found in his road map. It’s within Cyber himself. The dude genuinely wants YOU to make it. Not to speak for him, but it’s pretty clear he wants to help all students. The hard part for him is figuring out who is dedicated and who is just looking for a lazy way to get a new job. You won’t make it looking for a lazy path. If you go to anyone and ask questions that can be answered in a 5-minute google search or found in his roadmap, not going to lie he might help you, but if you are THAT lazy, you’re not going to make it anyways, and it’ll be a waste of time. Help yourself, and you’ll be shocked at how much people will help you.
The jungle is similar in that regard. I bounced some ideas off BowTiedHH about interview questions and was afraid I was annoying him. No, he made it clear he likes helping out with thoughtful questions. It’s people who DM “how do I get a good job?” with no research or steps on their own that can be frustrating. Have some thoughts, and feel free to reach out.
Also, a special shoutout to BowtiedAzure and BowtiedSteel. I’m already working on my NEXT step, which will be networking architecture, and will get Azure 104 and 305 in that path that Azure does a great job explaining. Steel also is just a cool guy to talk to who works hard and will make it.
My last tribute to Cyber will go in one of our most recent conversations. I was fanboying over excitement for this opportunity and said, "I will be a paid substacker for life!” out of gratitude. His response “Nah, man, don’t do that. Just go live your life.” That’s what he wants, and this is what this will do for me. Bills were getting tight, and my take home would go up more than $1,500 per month. My kids will have a much better life and a much happier dad, and for that, that gift of my kids having a more pleased dad is something anyone can give their family in just 90 days.
I love you all. WGMI
If you’re willing to work as hard as Tuna did, there’s NO REASON that this couldn’t be your life too.
I did it.
Tuna did it.
DOZENS of other students JUST LIKE YOU did it.
You can do it.
Dive in. Start now.
That’s all for this one.
And congrats again to BowTiedTuna for changing his life, and his family’s life, forever.