My Journey as a CyberGirl from a Novice to a Penetration Tester

Nov. 22, 2023
CyberGirl Journey

As 2023 began, I made a personal vow to make this year worthwhile. Looking back as it comes to an end, I can confidently say it's been a great one. In this article, I won't bore you with all my little wins but focus on a significant one - you probably guessed it from the headline ๐Ÿ™ƒ. This article is about my journey from the beginning to the end of my fellowship with the Cybersafe Foundation.


How I got accepted

When I got into University studying computer engineering, I knew I wanted to have a career in Cybersecurity. The first time I heard about it was in High School from my Computer Science teacher, at the time I did not know what it meant apart from the fact that it was an extremely rewarding path but a challenging one at that since it was an ever-evolving field and will require you to constantly stay updated.

Maybe Iโ€™ve gone too far back ๐Ÿ˜…, one article wonโ€™t be enough to mention all the procrastinations and the giving ups I went through before having somewhat of a win.

So, towards the end of 2022, I decided to be very intentional about searching for opportunities in Cybersec, and being a bit shy at the moment (at the moment because Iโ€™m now transformed ๐Ÿ˜Ž ), I decided to be focused on opportunities strictly for young girls. As God will have it, a very good friend of mine sent me a flyer for the CyberGirls Fellowship program on WhatsApp.

I was intrigued, so I googled it because I thought to myself: โ€œHow can all this be FREEโ€, Surprisingly enough, it was indeed true.

So this is me checking out the application process and the usual procrastination came in and halfway through filling the form, I decided to continue later (smh). The โ€˜laterโ€™ turned out to be 2 days before the application deadline.

The application now submitted, I had my fingers crossed waiting for the next steps.

By mid-December, I got an email saying I was accepted to move on to the next phase of the selection process (I have to give a round of applause to the Cybersafe Foundation team because their selection process is no joke!).

I remember spending my Christmas break going through the Cyber Essentials course ๐Ÿซค - It was an amazing one. No one explains complex concepts in such a relatable way as well as Mr. Segun Ebenezer Olaniyan

By the end of January, I was scheduled for the last round in the selection process - The Interview!

I was freaking out preparing for it, but during the meeting, the interviewer was extremely welcoming, and I quickly calmed down and aced it!

Long story short, after an extremely demanding and meticulous selection process, on Tuesday, 7th March 2023, I received an email, no I received THE EMAIL!

I had been accepted and was officially a Cybergirl!

The First three months

The first three months were brutal, the schedule was wild, and I had to do a lot of restructuring.

During this time, I cut back on a lot, all with the singular goal of grasping everything taught.

Although this period was termed the Prerequisite phase, the lessons were not basic.

Courses from the best organizations and the ever-present mentors were incredibly helpful during this phase.

It was amazing to collaborate with brilliant ladies from across the entire African continent.

It was during this phase that I got to work on my first project during the cohort - โ€œPlan and implement the vulnerability management program, including vulnerability scanning, risk assessment, and remediation procedures.โ€

Being the very first project I had to work on, I remember my cybersister Falilat Owolabi, Faith Kaminus, Cynthis Chalo, Afulang Carolina, Priscilla Appiah were dabbling and jumping on a lot of calls. Alas! We succeeded in coming out victorious.

After the Prerequisite training, we had to write another determining exam to qualify for the next step, this was when I received my first blow.

On my first trial, I did not meet the score of 75% to move forward. I can not begin to describe how I felt at this point, realizing I had not done enough, I was not good enough.

These thoughts kept flooding my mind, it was difficult. At this point, a miracle came in the form of a second chance. "This is it", I said to myself, I needed to triple my efforts, and I made it through on my second attempt.

How did I get through the waiting period, and all the anxiousness? One answer- Confidence Staveley!

There are leaders and Leaders, CS is a Leader, itโ€™s how she motivates you effortlessly, and how she believes in every single one of us. Her words in our Slack channel during this period were truly healing.

Career path - Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing

You know how they always use the making of diamonds๐Ÿ’Ž (pressure makes diamonds) to describe how difficulty pays off right?

Well, this was my experience in this career path and I can confidently say that I came out victorious, shining like a diamond.

This was my favorite phase!

Here's why:

1. During this phase I got to be mentored personally by Mrs. Tanwa Ashiru, she addressed all my worries from the core, and she had a way of showing up with this bubbly attitude and asking "Tell me how you've been", she'd listen to you, like genuinely pay attention to every word coming out of your mouth. After everything, she'll address every stress point.
Under her mentorship, I have grown not just in Cybersecurity, but as a person.
Thank you, coach Tanwa ๐Ÿ’™

2. Next up are the trainers I got to meet during this phase:

  • Sir Timothy Green was our mentor for our open-day project, and thanks to him, my teammates and I aced it. We came in overall second.
    It's how Mr Green will show up and ask you to explain what you understand by this or that ๐Ÿ˜…. You always had to be ready for a pop quiz at any point in time with him ๐Ÿ˜Š.
    Thank you, Sir Timothy, for mentoring us during this phase.

PS: I have spoken in detail about our project for the open day on my LinkedIn.
Check it out below ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿพ

Remember to follow and connect with me ๐Ÿ˜Š

  • Our next trainer during this phase was Sir Mohammed Okorejior
    Just by mentioning his name, I am all smiles, remembering our training sessions, how he would start by asking about the assignments he gave, then proceed to uniquely tackle every module of our Hack the Box Penetration testing with us.
    Thank you, sir Mo, for teaching me that the only way to be the best at something is by continuously doing it.

  • This phase was not just about technical training but also personal development. I am talking about soft skills, and we had the best here ๐Ÿ˜„ our trainer - Mr Daniel Emenahor, took us on this one.
    He will always ask us to pause for a minute and think about it, examine ourselves, understand our emotions, and finally be the best version of ourselves in the workplace.
    Thank you, sir Daniel

3. Then we have my success advisors, Itunuoluwa Olorunfemi, Shermim Matunda, Honour Felix, and Precious Ewoigbe.
I am not going to lie, these ladies are superwomen ๐Ÿฅน
It is how they handled every single worry I had without flinching.

They were always just a dm away.

Thank you, SAs, for being extremely patient with me ๐Ÿ˜

4. I can not possibly talk about this phase without mentioning my support system, my sisters, my partners with whom we burned our midnight candles, overcame varying time zones, and grew together. Yes, I am talking about my Cipher Queens.

What started as a group project for the open day became a lifelong pairing.

We will worry and panic together throughout the assignments and project but still get it done ๐Ÿ”ฅ

My Queens ๐Ÿ‘‘ - Nancy Nyambura from Kenya, Diana Kings from Kenya, and Ololade Sofowora from Nigeria. I am forever grateful to Cybersafe Foundation for pairing us up.

Thank you Cipher Queens ๐Ÿ’™

Together, we worked on our final year project - Demonstration and Mitigation of a DDOS attack.


Since I got accepted into the program till date, every day has been a learning opportunity for me.

The highlights of my training include:

1. Cyber-Fridays
I was always super pumped about my Friday evenings because we had a date ๐ŸŒน, and we would all meet on Slack and discuss two articles on Cybersecurity. This practice helped me grow a habit of keeping up to date with the trends and evolutions in Cybersecurity.

2. Open Day celebration
This was a beautiful time for me as we formed the Cipher Queens during this period, got mentored by Sir Green, and worked on an exhilarating project.

3. Mentorship calls:
These were priceless. I will always be anxious at the beginning of every one of these calls with Coach Tanwa, ready to pour my heart out, and at the end of the call, I will leave feeling much lighter.

4. LinkedIn masterclass with CS
The growth and opportunities I have been privileged to receive via LinkedIn are all thanks to the masterclass and leadership of CS โค๏ธ
Thank you, Confidence Staveley.

5. Hiring Summit

CyberGirls Fellowship was not just a fellowship, it was a commitment, a sisterhood. The organizing team was committed to our success, and among the many programs they organized, the hiring summit comes as one of their most successful endeavors.

Thank you, Cybersafe Foundation.

All these programs made my journey with the Cybersafe Foundation as a CyberGirl memorable.

How to apply

Cybersafe Foundation has many other programs aimed at empowering women with tech skills. Check them out at

In this section, I will be discussing how to apply for the CyberGirls Fellowship program.

You are eligible for the program if you:

  • Are a Female aged 18 โ€“ 28 years old as of the commencement of the fellowship (25th March 2024)
  • Are a citizen and resident of an African country and passionate about (starting a career in) cybersecurity.
  • Are proficient in English and have completed High school/Secondary school.
  • Can withstand the pressures of intensive hands-on technical training.
  • Have access to the internet and are willing to devote fully to 8 months of intensive training.
  • Do not have a job in cybersecurity or possess a major cybersecurity certification that can land you one.
  • Are not participating in any similarly timed tech fellowship or boot camp.

If you are eligible, head to - and start your application immediately.

The selection process will be competitive, but I can assure you, it will be worth your 2024.

Final thoughts

I have finally come to the end of my training as a Penetration tester, and as I look back on all that I have been able to accomplish, I am confident about the next steps, always carrying the CyberGirls mantra with me:

โ€œ I am knowledgeable, resilient, and excellent.

Iโ€™m a fountain of value and an ardent problem solver.

Iโ€™m a voracious learner, so nothing is too difficult for me to master.

Iโ€™m a doer with genius intellect.

I am a CyberGirl. โ€œ

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