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After college, Audie found support for early talent at Palo Alto Networks

Audie Blog (650 × 440 Px)

Author: Audie Bethea, Automation Engineer

During my freshman year of college, a desire for professional opportunity and a depletion of my cafeteria dining dollars pushed me to attend many, many company-hosted recruiting events at my school. Among these companies, one clearly stood out– it held its employees to the highest security standard and provided a product that I felt genuinely impacted the world in a positive way, no matter how you cut it. I couldn't have known this at the time, but that Palo Alto Networks recruitment event would have a much bigger impact on my life than the slice of pizza that I originally came for.

Three years later, I was describing this specific encounter to my Palo Alto Networks internship interviewer, and how it had piqued my interest in not only in the company itself, but in cybersecurity too. During those years, I'd made an effort to take classes like network security and ethics of computer science to better grasp the concepts and gravity of the field. It was overwhelming at first, but so is everything else that's worth learning. Fortunately, my passion and knowledge on the subject won the day, and I spent the following summer designing and implementing a complete automation overhaul for our testing workflow. It was an enriching and challenging project, and fortunately landed me a full-time return offer to the company.

Transitioning into the "real world" from college was one the most difficult and confusing parts of my life thus far. It involved significant changes to my life's schedule, priorities and budget. For me, it meant moving across the country, out of my comfortable bubble of friends and family, to a place where absolutely nothing is owed to me. It was also the first time where I realized that I had complete autonomy over my life, and that I needed to set my own professional and personal goals to keep myself accountable. All of these changes compounded on each other, and for a few months, I was stuck in a loop of personal insecurity, professional stress and general unhappiness.

However, Palo Alto Networks did a fantastic job in providing me with a network of other young professionals who quickly became close friends of mine, and who made me excited to come to work in the morning. I found out that I was not the only person struggling with this major life change, and that it was okay to recognize that this was hard. The efforts of the Palo Alto Networks LEAP team and everyone else around me to lift me back up are something that I am still thankful for to this day. Slowly but surely, I began to regain confidence in myself and my skills, and began to find more fulfillment in my work. There is something about solving real problems, with real people depending on you, that adds a level of exigency and excitement that just cannot be replicated in the classroom.


For those of you who are just now beginning this journey, or are soon to embark, I envy you, because this will be one of the most exciting parts of your life. There will be challenges, but don't think for a second that you're the only person going through them, and never hesitate to reach out to others for support. There is so much to learn, experience and treasure from that first year out of college. Squeeze everything that you can out of it, and make sure to appreciate every win and loss for what it is.


Explore internship and early-in-career opportunities at Palo Alto Networks here!


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