Program: MS Cybersecurity
Current Passion: Working with the MS Society.
In 2020, I applied to around ten MS Cybersecurity programs and got accepted to all but one. Residing in Charleston, SC I wanted a fully remote graduate program, so I did some research and applied to the very best schools in the country. Some cybersecurity programs were in the college of engineering, and some were in the college of business. I chose UD because it had a larger “business element” than some of the engineering-type programs that had a heavy mathematics focus. I spent 20+ years working as a director and small business owner, so I thought this was the better route for me. I also really liked the wide breadth of courses offered in the program, it seemed very well-rounded.
I currently work as a Senior Consultant in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy with Zaviant Consulting (Zaviant.com). This is mainly a governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) type role. Consultants are the combination of analyst, presenter, project manager, problem solver, and relationship builder. I find that UD’s cybersecurity program is very well suited for someone interested in a cybersecurity consulting role. While working in GRC there is a heavy focus on process, policies, workflows, and NIST frameworks, all of which I initially learned at UD.
I never had an internship, but I did get a full-time job as a cybersecurity sales engineer during semesters two through four at UD before Zaviant hired me as a consultant at the start of my fifth semester. At the time, I was just happy to get any job working in cybersecurity to gain experience and start building a resume.
Think about which aspect of cybersecurity you want to work in, because there are many and they all differ. When you come into the program, you’ll get a taste of red team, blue team, networking, GRC, forensics, management, etc. Choose a path and start to focus on that path with certifications and work experience. Also, start working in cybersecurity while in school. Could be an internship, part-time, or full-time, you absolutely want to start any job you can in cybersecurity ASAP. Leverage your previous work experience. I had extensive experience in sales, so I started off as a sales engineer because that’s really all I could get. Someone took a chance on me, and I made the most of the opportunity by outperforming those with more industry experience.
My favorite part was building relationships with the professors. At UD you’re not just a number, so take advantage of the many opportunities to interact with the professors because the relationships will pay off. Dr. Sandra Blanke was instrumental in my choosing UD and introduced me to the hiring manager at Zaviant when I was looking for a new role. Make sure to interact with professors and peers, never hide in the background because that’s where you’ll stay.
My experience at UD prepared me for the cybersecurity and data privacy consulting work I do today. Ultimately, what you learn at UD is the foundation. It’s up to the graduate to take what you’ve learned and apply it daily as you do your job. UD provided the power of preparation as a beginning. Due to my UD foundation, when I need to learn new things on the job, I learn them much faster. For me, this has resulted in improved performance and multiple promotions over a short period of time.