Paving the Future for Cybersecurity

Volunteer Writer: Brett Talbot

Email: btalbot@umassd.edu

The MassCyberCenter division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative opened applications last month for their undergraduate cybersecurity mentorship program.

“This is a really wonderful program to help promote the diversity of the cybersecurity workforce,” says Maxwell Fathy, the Ecosystem Program Manager for the MassCyberCenter. “We have a lot of great mentors who have been participating in this program who have dedicated their time and energy to help promote the growth of the diverse workforce.”

Cybersecurity majors or students with cybersecurity experience are paired with an industry professional that aligns with their interests within the field. From there they have one-on-one meetings with their mentor to learn more about cybersecurity and career opportunities, work together on a project of their choosing to present at a showcase event, and participate in both virtual career panels and the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Forum.

Fathy states that mentors are a great resource for giving students exactly what they need.

This has certainly been the case for John Danahey, a Managing Partner in Systems Engineering of Digital Tech Partners, Inc. who serves as one of the program’s mentors.

“As a mentor, I took it as my responsibility to give them guidance and alternatives,” says Mr. Danahey, who has worked with two students in the program’s previous cycles. He explains that he sees himself as a guidance counselor, helping put students on the right track to finding solutions on their own.

The learning process does not just apply to cybersecurity, however.

Mentors like Danahey commit to assisting students with time management, setting up proper professional expectations, and giving them a solid structure that will help them overcome any challenges they might encounter later in their careers.

“One of the benefits is it’s probably the closest to the real world as you’re going to get.” Mr. Danahey states when discussing the program. “So, get everything out of the mentor as much as you can.”

The chance to participate in the program and work alongside a professional has benefited previous participants like UMASS Dartmouth students Anastasia and Ayyappan. Anastasia and Ayyappan took part in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 respectively.

“It was a fun experience. Plus, it was nice meeting with someone in the field,” said Anastasia. “I like how you have a real-life experience that you wouldn’t get in school. Plus, it looks good on the resume.” Both students received hands-on learning when it came to performing their chosen projects.

“The experience was nothing short of amazing,” says Ayyappan. “My mentor taught me a lot and has helped me immensely, not only about cybersecurity but also on how to deal with interviews amongst other skills.”

Applications have closed for Fall 2022, but the website offers an interest form for anyone who wishes to participate in the future.

For more information, please visit their website.

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