Series: How I got my start in privacy

In this series for The Privacy Advisor, we ask privacy professionals who've been in the field for at least a few years to describe how they got their starts. The series aims to help new privacy professionals gain insights and ideas on how they might jumpstart their own careers.

Kirk Nahra, CIPP/US, Wiley Rein
As a career, privacy came quite logically but completely accidentally for me. Like everyone of my vintage, privacy was not something a lawyer thought about as a career. It really didn’t exist as a practice area when I was in law school unless you were a criminal lawyer objecting to inappropriate search and seizure or a civil rights lawyer challenging a government regulation on birth control. Not exactly the typical practice of a young law firm associate.

Emily Johnson, CIPP/E, Microsoft Corporation
Privacy wasn’t something that was on my radar much in 2009, and definitely not as a possible career path. I followed tech news and current events closely, so I was aware of the topic, but mostly related to whatever was the latest data breach at the time and the bigger general discussions around data use that made their way to mainstream media. I was working as a brand architecture and portfolio manager at a large mobile phone manufacturer. Little did I know that this would start me on the path towards my privacy career. And so far, it has been the best decision I made in my professional life.

Ryan Barker, Capital One
Back in 1998, I was working at Novell, Inc., as a clerk for our litigation team and the legal department webmaster. The still-new internet was starting to generate privacy-related concerns. We also had some issues with junk-fax litigation, and leaders in Novell’s Legal Department were interested in figuring out what customer information was being collected throughout the company, who had access to personal information, and how that information was being used or shared. Legal also wanted to draft Novell’s first online Privacy Statement. They asked me if I was interested in leading this “privacy” work.

Katy Lovell, CIPP/US, CIPM, FIP, State Farm Insurance Companies
Everyone has first day worries. We worry we won’t make any friends our first day at a new school or workplace. We worry we won’t have the knowledge or experience to succeed. Personally, I worried about all of those things my first day as a privacy professional. Over time I gained relationships, knowledge, and experience. If I could turn back time, here are five important pieces of advice I would tell myself before entering the privacy field.