Want to break into cyber?

Get career advice from three diverse employees with STEM degrees
In this three-part series, we are celebrating National Cybersecurity Awareness Month by profiling employees who are building a career in the cybersecurity field.
 
“The idea of protecting our nation drew me to a career in information technology,” said Erika Mallow. “What keeps me interested is the diversity of people and their ideas. As an intern, I get to learn from people who work within and outside cybersecurity. The learning process and challenge never stops.”
 
Erika Mallow
Erika Mallow
Technical Intern
BAE Systems Intelligence & Security
 
“Never hesitate to ask questions and request feedback from your colleagues. And most importantly, communicate and listen to your leaders, peers, and mentors. They are your best resources and they are willing to help you succeed.”
 
Mallow is a senior working to earn an undergraduate degree in management of information systems (MIS), which is considered part of the “technology” discipline within “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math). She chose technology because she was drawn to its fast-paced cadence. She expects to earn her degree in the spring of 2021.
 
Since February of this year, Mallow has been working as a technical intern. “My initial contact with the company was a fellow student, Eric Petersen, who previously served as a BAE Systems intern. I heard a lot of positive things about the company from other students in the MIS program at Weber State as well,” she said. “After thorough research, I confirmed the facts. And, here I am today!”
 
Mallow is part of a cybersecurity team that supports a major weapons program at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. Some of her responsibilities include assisting various program teams in capturing and refining information protection requirements, integrating those requirements into system designs, and ensuring program compliance with government requirements.
 
Mallow suggests to those looking to move into a technical field to register for additional courses and obtain hands-on experience (like shadowing a manager). “In the cybersecurity field, there are a lot of things that they don’t teach you in school,” she said. “There’s an overwhelming amount of information you will encounter that you may not be familiar with and it will get tough and confusing. But being an intern doesn’t mean that you know everything—and no one expects you to. So, never hesitate to ask questions and request feedback from your work colleagues. And most importantly, communicate and listen to your leaders, peers, and mentors. They are some of your best resources and they are always willing to help you succeed.”
 
Want more? 
Read tips from George Velasquez, senior IT security specialist, as he shares his perspective on gaining experience and certifications in the field; or Bridgette Townsend, systems engineering manager, as she encourages fostering good relationships within an organization through mentorship and outside of work with expert community groups.
 
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