While she’s into coding, Kathy Zhu says her role as a security engineer at Google, the world’s biggest information-focussed tech company, is about way more than just being technical.
“It’s very practical – you have to do hands-on stuff! For security you need to know a bit about everything. Hardware, software, web activities – every part of it can be hacked,” says Kathy.
Kathy’s path into her job as a Google security engineer began with a “keen interest in STEM subjects” in high school. “I got into coding when I was doing my degree and realised how much I liked it.”
After uni she joined the Westpac Graduate Program and took a turn in their security team. Looking to find a more challenging role, she started attending meet-ups like SecTalks in Sydney and met her current manager there.
“I learned about what it was like in Google and thought ‘that’s my dream job’!” she says. But getting it was another challenge.
“It was tough to apply for – it took me two months and I found it harder than the HSC! There was a lot of information – I had a huge knowledge gap and needed to train myself at a fast pace.”
Kathy scored the gig and now it’s her job to keep the Google tools we use safe from cyber attack. “I’m in the detection side of the role, so I try and detect people’s attempts at hacking us. You can’t detect properly unless you know how people are going to hack you,” she says.
It’s a career she didn’t know existed back in high school, and one she’s keen to see more girls enjoy. When you are creating tools that billions of people will use, and that need to be secure: “Diversity of thought is really important,” she says.
Kathy’s career and study pathway
- Bachelor of Information Systems, UNSW
- Technical graduate, Westpac
- Security analyst, Westpac
- Security Engineer, Google
This article was brought to you in partnership with Google. It originally appears in Careers with STEM: Cybersecurity 2019
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs