Living a dream and I don't want to wake up
Four years ago I could only dream of working at a company like GitHub and now I’m here. 2018 has been one of the most fulfilling years of my life! There’s so much I’d love to recap in this post but I’ll limit it to the my main highlights of the year.
2018 started off with running uOttaHack, University of Ottawa’s first ever MLH hackathon. The hackathon took hundreds of hours of planning from an extremely dedicated team but the result was astonishing! The event brought over 400 students from all across Canada together for a weekend of hacking and learning. Our team was able to secure a stunning $50,000 in funding for a first time event! If you’re interested in learning more about what it’s like running a hackathon see my other blog post.
Shortly after the hackathon I graduated from University, a day I thought would never come. University was one of the best times of my life! Throughout university I was able to make some friendships which will last a lifetime. If I could give any advice to new students it would be: make the most of the extra curricular activities. There’s so many to choose from but some of my most fulfilling university experiences come from IEEE, uOttaHack, Pebble meetups, and other events. University is the time for you to find your passion and make the most of it; that’s how I developed my love for cyber security!
After graduation I had the opportunity to spend just over a month traveling Europe! The adventure began with my friend Joseph and I exploring Iceland. Iceland was beautiful and had some of the best nature sights of the entire trip! Following that Joseph and I met up with my friend Jurre in Amsterdam and we got to meet his family as well as visit his home. The three of us had a great time traveling around the Netherlands visiting Jurre’s home country. One day we even made it over to the edge of Germany and got to go on the autobahn… don’t worry we didn’t go that fast. Following that Joseph went home and Jurre and I embarked on the rest of our trip.
For the rest of the trip Jurre and I borrowed his parents car to travel along the west coast of Europe. In Belgium we went on a bike tour through Brussels and picked up some tasty Belgian chocolate. Next up we worked our way down to the UK - taking a train that we drove the car onto. Jurre and I stayed at a cozy AirBnB in Tonbridge where we watched England lose in the world cup (sorry every country I visited got eliminated, oops). We made some day trips to London and on one of them we connected with Maz, another friend from University. Unfortunately Big Ben was covered in scaffolding, but hey at least we’ve got clocks here too.
After London we worked our way in to western France for one of the most eye opening parts of the trip: Normandy. There was so much history in Normandy it was truly stunning to see first hand what the soldiers of WWII went through for our freedom. Jurre and I got to see the beaches which these soldiers landed on while facing absolutely terrifying German fortifications. One of the scariest and most eye opening areas was Pointe du Hoc, where soldiers climbed a cliff-side while being shot at. I’ve always been interested in WWII history and being able to see Normandy and the surrounding area firsthand was surreal.
After Normandy Jurre and I made our way to Paris where I got to personally hand deliver a Reddit Secret Santa gift on behalf of my sister. It was great being able to visit the Eiffel tower as well as the Mona Lisa. Finally Jurre and I made our way back to the Netherlands so that we could prepare for Tomorrowland! The festival was one of the best times in my life, I’ve never enjoyed my self so much. A while ago I wrote about my Tomorrowland experience, I definitely suggest checking it out!
After my trip to Europe I begun my career as a cyber security engineer at GitHub on their product security team. These first few months at GitHub have been some of the most interesting in terms of cyber security. I get to work with some extremely talented engineers daily and am constantly learning from them. I got to see token scanning, my intern project, get shipped at the keynote for GitHub Universe. Furthermore, I got to work on some awesome feature ships which impact millions of users daily… was the password you used found in a data breach? I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me at GitHub!
Finally I finished the year by challenging myself to learn some new programming languages during Advent of Code. For those of you who may not know, AoC is like an advent calendar but instead of getting chocolate you get a new programming challenge each day, progressively getting more challenging. While my goal of using a new language every day was slightly ambitious I did get to use some interesting languages such as Whitespace and OCaml. I plan to circle back and finish the rest of the challenges at some point during 2019. All of my solutions can be found on my advent of code repo. I even made my own whitespace theme for sublime! I look forward to next year’s challenges and props to Eric Wastl for all of his hard work this year!
2018 was an amazing year and I can’t wait for what 2019 has in store! As I write this I’m sitting on the Santa Monica pier while I’m here for Appsec California. Following that I’ll be traveling to Europe again for a month for Tomorrowland winter with my friend Forest. While I’m there I’ll be meeting with some of my colleagues from the GitHub Amsterdam office as well as visiting Jurre. After that I’ll be running a workshop on whitehat hacking/CTFing at Locomocosec in Hawaii! If you’re looking for the best defensive cyber security conference in an amazing location look no further!