As we kick off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) is proud to announce the successful launch of the Veterans’ Apprenticeship Program by the first cohort of female US military veterans looking to join the cybersecurity field. This program is part of the overall WiCyS mission to recruit, retain, and advance women in cybersecurity.
The program supports and advances female veteran members within the WiCyS community as they transition from military to cybersecurity careers. The strategy is to provide a gateway into a cybersecurity career when talent is in demand and job growth is expected through 2030.
The heart-based passion and energy within this organization translate into success stories that encourage other women to consider a career in cybersecurity. Below, we highlight two veteran women who shared their stories about their military service and how the WiCyS Veterans’ Apprenticeship Program is making a difference in their lives.
Jenny Graham joined the United States Army to see the world. She served as an MP (Military Police Officer) in the US and South Korea. Jenny loved her time in the military.
The transition from military service to a civilian job has its challenges. Jenny went on to further her education, obtaining a BS in Medical Studies and Forensic Psychology in 2020. When she connected with another veteran (who was helping veterans with career resources), she discovered the Smoothstack/WiCyS program for veterans and began the program in the summer of 2021.
Now, Jenny is working for Bloomberg (remotely for now) as a cybersecurity analyst apprentice in their Threat and Vulnerability Team!
Key takeaways are:
- Jenny asked herself about the quality that she embodies as a veteran. She looked up the meaning of tenacity which is “The greatest stress a substance can bear without tearing.”
- Furthermore, Jenny noted that “tenacity is the cohesion that keeps it together. That glue is the interconnectedness of the human component that drives the spirit. It all boils down to our community and the support we receive through the WiCyS community.”
- Since there is not one specific path into the cybersecurity field, carve your own path.
- Based on military training, veterans have the personality for this career because they are persistent and do not give up.
- Cybersecurity is a valid, rewarding, fulfilling, and fascinating field!
Natosha Knight joined the United States Army to further her education. During her eleven years in the military, she spent seven years stationed in Germany, as a Logistics expert. After leaving the military, Natohsa received her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to help veterans with counseling.
Natosha always loved technology and IT, so she took a leap of faith and decided to pursue her Master’s in IT and Cybersecurity (completed next year).
Once she heard about the Smoothstack/WiCyS program for veterans, Natosha applied and began her studies in the summer of 2021.
Now, Smoothstack is providing help to get through the hiring process and WiCyS has provided Natosha with a Mentor.
Key takeaways are:
- Natosha emphasized how “the veterans’ apprenticeship program aligns with military basic training followed by Advanced Individual Training (AIT), requiring grit, hard work, dedication, persistence, and patience.”
- Thinking about what her granny used to say, Natosha stated “never give up, you’ve come too far!” She is energized and motivated, adding “If you are interested in cybersecurity, then Smoothstack opens doors for you. If you put in the hard work and dedication, it is possible for you to enter this field.”
- As an additional benefit to the program, Natosha mentioned “the camaraderie among the women in this cohort is something special. Thankfully, some of us met each other in person at the WiCyS Annual Conference in September!”
WiCyS is achieving a positive impact for veterans and the cybersecurity workforce through this innovative and timely program. Click here to learn more about WiCyS Veterans’ Apprenticeship Program.
Contributor: Dawn Kristy, JD, Founder & CEO of The Cyber Dawn, a cybersecurity awareness training and communications consultancy.