SPARCing a New Generation of Cyber Security Professionals

SPARCing a New Generation of Cyber Security Professionals

“Did you know that nearly two in three midsize organizations have suffered a ransomware attack in the past 18 months? Even more concerning is that 20% of them spent at least $250,000 to recover from it.”

(https://info.connectwise.com/cybersecurity/fortify/ebook/rmkt/2022-msp-threat-report?)

Enlisting and empowering the next generation of cyber security practitioners is essential to ensuring that critical forms of data is safe and secure.

On October 11th the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) SPARCs program facilitated a cyber security career event for high school and college students to engage with IT professionals.

Facilitators included Art Faccio (Mural), Paula Greve (Microsoft) and Katie Anderson (SPS Commerce).

It was a wonderful night where the audience learned…

– what cyber security is

– how to be successful in cyber security

– and how to find out if this field matches participant career interests

Here are some tips & quotes from the SPARCS speakers:

“Ask questions, always try to answer questions when you are asked, and if you don’t know the answer it is ok to say you don’t know. Every day you can learn something new from someone.”

— Art Faccio

“Imposter syndrome and the importance of failure has been the biggest obstacle in my cyber security career. That is why I think that it is important to discuss why differences should be celebrated.”

— Katie Anderson

“Reach out to someone not just because they are big, but because they are someone you are really interested in hearing from.”

— Paula Anderson

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO EVENT RECORDING

Here is how it impacted the students who attended:

“[I liked] how genuine everyone was and how informative everyone was with their answers.”

“I learned about the number of certifications and conferences available.”

“It’s okay to fail and it’s [normal] to have imposter syndrome.”

SPARCS: It’s about Sustaining Passion, Ambition, and Resolve for Career Success.  A year-round offering of IT career exploration events provided by the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program to inspire and empower high school students to become our next, best Minnesota-grown technologists.

Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC):  A twelve-year program involving high schools throughout Minnesota, technology professionals, business partners, and community-based organizations to inspire and empower students in high school who identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary to pursue technology education and career paths.  Since its inception, 726 students have been selected MNAiC award honorees, 92 students have been placed in summer paid internships, and 16 have received college scholarships. Offered in partnership with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).