Student Stories

Carmen Lim

Class of 2020
Bachelor of Science with Honours in Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity, Coventry University

School of Engineering and Technology
Carmen was also featured on Mothership. Read on here!

Engineering and Cyber Security may sound like they are only for male grown-ups, but that is not true. Carmen Lim is the epitome of a young woman who has not only done well in her studies in cyber security, but also thrived as an engineer in the working world. If you are a young woman considering a career in Cyber Security, you may be inspired by reading her story.

Carmen with her classmates outside our STEM Campus. Photo by Carmen Lim.

After graduating from PSB Academy with Diploma in InfoComm Technology at the age of 21, Carmen started working in her first company, Exclusive Networks, in 2017, and became the youngest engineer there. She was exposed to all the different paths in the IT industry and found interest in cyber security. She began working on the Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software, Solarwinds, and was promoted to Level 2 project engineer.

It was then that Carmen knew she needed to get her degree in this field of work to improve her skill set. Thus, she embarked on the Bachelor of Science with Honours in Ethical Hacking and Cybersecurity course in 2018. In fact, she was one of the few women who were in cyber security, and by extension, Science, Technology, Engineer, Math (STEM).

Carmen and her coursemates in one of our computer labs. Photo by Carmen Lim.

However, she initially felt nervous about whether she could take the stress of studying part-time and working full-time after having taken one-year break from studying for her diploma. Besides, midway through her degree course, she joined another company called Inventivo. Fortunately, her managers in both her first and second companies were very understanding and supportive of her pursuing her Degree, and they would check on her from time to time and help her accordingly.

“Despite being one of the ‘rare’ engineers who is a young woman, I feel right where I belong,” she enthused. “I also wanted to further my studies with PSB Academy as Coventry University was offering the modules that I feel was more suited to my interest and the path I wanted to pursue and improve on when I stepped into the working world in 2017. I did consider other institutions, but they didn’t have the degree course that catered to my interest.”

“Being young and not knowing much at the start was a struggle,” she confessed. ”But what motivated and pulled me through the challenges was my goal. I wanted to be in this industry, and whenever people pulled me down, I told myself to get back up and prove to myself that I wasn’t weak.”

Carmen working from home. Photo by Carmen Lim.

Carmen was also fortunate to have the help and guidance of her lecturers, such as Mr Kang Leng, Mr Siwa, Dr Loo, Mr Gregory and Mr Steven, who were amazing mentors to her. She found all of them very approachable. They helped to guide her and her classmates with their projects and assignments, sometimes even in the wee hours. The lecturers also took the time to patiently repeat the lesson points for them to understand better.

“Even after I completed their modules, the lecturers would ask me how I was doing in my other modules and at work when I met them in the school hallways or on the streets,” she recounted. “After graduating from my degree course, I am still in contact with some of my lecturers like Mr Gregory, who has been very supportive of me and my classmates till this day. I am very grateful for their efforts, which motivated me to continue doing what I love and have passion for. It was really tiring after work to go to school, but I always got very excited looking forward to attending their lectures.”

Carmen felt that her degree course has helped to open more doors for her to explore in the IT industry at the age of 24. It has changed her perspective or the way she looked at things at work. She said, “Things got easier for me when I was troubleshooting issues and communicating with my clients. Also, when I discussed things with my colleagues, it was easier to communicate because of what was taught to me during my degree course. I think that all the encounters I had with people in school and at work - whether good or horrible ones - have brought me to where I am today.”

Carmen teaching inline-skating to young learners. Photo by Carmen Lim.

Moreover, she found that her education with PSB Academy has helped her in many ways, including the way she planned her project deployments, did troubleshooting, and spoke to her clients. “I feel more confident in what I do after the course,” she added. “Many companies have approached me after I finished my degree, asking me to move into the penetration testing and vulnerability assessment field, which I would like to step into in the future. This degree has opened many new doors for me, and I am very glad that I have taken this leap of faith and chosen Coventry University as my place of study.”

On looking back, Carmen could recall many memorable experiences about her time at PSB Academy. She remembered the times when she and her classmates had projects, tests or exams, and they would discuss key points before the events and shared their experiences after the events.

“The most memorable would be the meal I had with my classmates after our last exam for the whole course,” she recalled. “We discussed what we wanted to further pursue if we were to change fields in the IT industry. About 10 of us decided to take an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ESCA) certification course together four months after graduation. I am still in contact with them, and I am grateful for having made the choice to further my studies and take my degree, without which I wouldn’t have known them. I realise that it is the school culture that has brought us together closer as classmates and friends till this day.”

Finally, if you are a young woman thinking of whether to go into cyber security, here’s a word of advice Carmen has to offer: “If you have the passion, go for it. If you don’t enjoy what you learn and do every day, it will be like living in a never-ending hell. In cyber security, there are always new environments, new challenges, new people. Always study to keep up with new threats like cyber attacks and malwares, or updates in IT. You won’t get a culture shock. After having studied in CHIJ Toa Payoh, an all-girls school, for 11 years, finding myself in an industry with a ratio of 1 woman to 20 guys was more interesting rather than scary. Believe in yourself, and you can do it!”

Carmen with her Daihatsu Copen Convertible. Photo by Christopher Tan @sgctp.

Carmen is an in-line skating enthusiast who teaches on weekends to young learners. She is also a member of a convertible car club. Follow her on Instagram @carmenvictorialim and her car @thatcutecar.