By Dr. Kevin Harris | 12/16/2021
The recognition of the need for a stronger cyber workforce continues to remain at the forefront of public conversations as both the frequency and scale of cyberattacks continue to grow. While there is still a significant global cyber workforce shortage of 2.72 million individuals according to the 2021 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the positive news reflected is that with much work, that gap was reduced by 700,000 this past year.
Organizations Have Worked Hard to Attract New Talent to the Cybersecurity Field
Organizations have embraced the challenge by implementing a wide range of initiatives to attract quality talent. There has been work done across the board, but a significant amount of change has occurred in the private sector.
The fight to fill the global cyber workforce shortage continues to be a collaborative approach. Various companies have recognized the need and implemented programs such as:
- Diversity hiring initiatives
- Mentoring programs
- Pay increases
- Flexible working conditions
The Federal Government Has Launched Its Own Initiative to Attract Cybersecurity Professionals
To protect our nation’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, the federal government has recently launched a new personnel system, the DHS Cybersecurity Talent Management System, to reduce some previous barriers to public-sector employment recruiting. The initiative reduces the steps necessary to complete an application while allowing applicants to participate in skills-based assessments.
Individuals who may have degrees in other areas, certifications or previous work experience can document their abilities. While private sectors have financially incentivized cybersecurity talent, the federal government has traditionally been limited in this area. Through the new DHS Cybersecurity Talent Management System, cybersecurity salaries will be restructured to be more competitive and other incentives will be included as well, which will hopefully attract new employees.
As the cybersecurity field is a rapidly changing environment, the lack of funded training and professional development are considered deal breakers for many people in this field. The new federal initiative understands this need and rightly included career development as one of its core components.
The new hiring system focused on filling mission-critical roles at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the DHS’s Office of the Chief Information Officer illustrates the federal government’s commitment to the field of cybersecurity.
Internship Opportunities in Cybersecurity
Internships are a great way to gain real-world experience and insight into the field of cybersecurity. For example, those seeking an entry-level opportunity in cybersecurity should consider applying to the Centers for Cyber Academic Excellence Internship program. This virtual and paid internship is offered through The National Security Agency (NSA), in partnership with the Maryland Innovation & Security Institute (MISI) and the GBC MISI Academy.
This eight-week internship program provides individuals with hands-on experience as well as the ability to meet government cyber leaders to gain a greater understanding of the field. This program is geared towards students in their final year of college.
The deadline to apply for this competitive internship is January 7 at 3 p.m. (ET).
Applicants must submit a transcript, cover letter, resume, and letter of recommendation from an employer or professor. University students and alumni can reach out to a Career Coach for help with the application process, including:
- A resume or cover letter review
- Interview preparation
- Questions about taking an internship for academic credit
- Suggestions for contacting a professor for a letter of recommendation
About the Author
Dr. Kevin Harris is a faculty member in the School of STEM, teaching classes in cybersecurity, information systems security and information technology. With over 25 years of industry experience, Dr. Harris has protected a variety of organizational infrastructure and data in positions ranging from systems analyst to chief information officer.
His career encompasses diverse experiences both in information technology and academia. His research and passion are in the areas of cybersecurity, bridging the digital divide, and increasing diversity in the tech community. As an academic leader, Dr. Harris instructed students at various types of institutions, including community colleges, HBCUs, public, private, graduate, undergraduate and online. He has trained faculty from multiple institutions in the area of cybersecurity as part of an NSF multistate CSEC grant.