Applications Open for Spring Cybersecurity Mentorship Program

Thursday, January 21, 2021
Source 
MassCyberCenter at the MassTech Collaborative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Applications Open for Spring Cybersecurity Mentorship Program

Looking for Diverse College Students Passionate About Cybersecurity

WESTBOROUGH – The MassCyberCenter at the MassTech Collaborative has launched the spring edition of its Cybersecurity Mentorship Program, an effort that aims to increase diversity within the cybersecurity workforce in Massachusetts. Launched as a pilot last September, the Cybersecurity Mentorship Program pairs diverse college students from across the Commonwealth with mentors from the state’s cybersecurity sector.

The Program is currently seeking applications from diverse college students with a passion for cybersecurity and industry mentors committed to promoting diversity in the workforce.  Students and mentors will be matched based on shared interests, and once paired up, they will meet virtually one-to-one to discuss cybersecurity careers and work together on a cybersecurity-related project.  Student mentees will also attend information sessions on cybersecurity companies and participate virtually in a career panel focused on cybersecurity “soft-skills.”

“Our agency has taken on several initiatives to address diversity and equity within the tech and innovation ecosystem here in Massachusetts, including the Cybersecurity Mentorship Program,” said Carolyn Kirk, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the parent agency of the MassCyberCenter. “The pilot program showed clear value for students that participated, helping them develop new skills and outline career goals, while also introducing them with a mentor who can hopefully be an advocate as they transition to the professional world. By expanding this program in 2021, our aim is to encourage more of these talented students to build their cybersecurity career here in Massachusetts.”

In the Massachusetts’ technology and innovation ecosystem, which includes cybersecurity, only five percent of workers are Black, seven percent are Hispanic, and one third are women, according to the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. The fall 2020 Pilot Program, which included ten student mentees and mentors, confirmed that mentorship from industry professionals can play a powerful role in encouraging diverse student talent to enter the cybersecurity profession. Many of the student mentees reported that they thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were more interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity after participating in the Pilot Program. 

“Initiatives like the Cybersecurity Mentorship Program are a big step towards diversifying the ranks of the cybersecurity workforce. Bringing enthusiastic students and established industry experts together creates a new support structure for undergraduates interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career,” said Damon Cox, Assistant Secretary of Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “I am proud to serve as a member of the Cybersecurity Mentorship Program’s Steering Committee and I cannot wait to see the next cohort of this outstanding program.”

“The ten mentors and students in our fall program highlighted the impact that this program can have in encouraging diverse talent to join the cybersecurity profession,” said Stephanie Helm, the Director of the MassCyberCenter. “As we continue this mentorship program, our goal is to expand the program to more students across Massachusetts. We’re eager to build on the success of the Pilot Program and encourage deserving students and potential mentors to apply for this great opportunity.”

Students in the program have the opportunity to choose to build, break, secure, and administer a virtual machine; evaluate a cybersecurity policy or procedure for a business; draft a policy recommendation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; create or evaluate a cyber incident response plan; or develop a cyber education and awareness product. At the conclusion of the program, students will present their completed project at a showcase event.

“I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a major figure in the cybersecurity world and learn so much from him,” said University of Massachusetts-Lowell student Chris Morales, one of the student mentees in the fall Pilot. “I have learned so much and my interest in being a part of the cybersecurity workforce has increased significantly.”

Applications for student and mentor participants will be accepted until February 17th.  Students and mentors will be paired together in early March and the program will conclude in mid-May 2021 with a showcase event where students will present their completed projects.

For more information on the Cybersecurity Mentorship Program, including how to apply, visit: https://masscybercenter.org/mentorship.

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About MassCyberCenter

The MassCyberCenter was launched in September 2017 with a vision to enhance opportunities for the Massachusetts cybersecurity ecosystem to compete as the national cybersecurity leader while strengthening the resiliency of the Commonwealth’s public and private communities. Learn more at www.masscybercenter.org.