ACSC cybersecurity intern fair: A response to growing demand

May 5, 2016

The demand for cybersecurity personnel continues to far exceed supply, a fact that compelled both students and companies to convene on March 24 at John Hancock’s Boston office for ACSC’s Cyber Security and Information Technology Intern Fair.

Some 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the United States are unfilled, according to a January 2016 Forbes report. A report by Cisco Systems puts the number at 1 million openings globally.

And no wonder the students come: information security analysts make an average of $88,890, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a cybersecurity hub like the Boston area, the need for fresh talent is especially acute. Thirteen local companies and institutions set up shop at the Intern Fair, including Liberty Mutual, Putnam Investments, tech startup Acquia, and Eastern Bank. Companies are eager to make connections early with students, says Sarah Swan, campus talent acquisition specialist at John Hancock. “The sooner they start with us, the more we can bring them back,” she says. “I do believe there is a lot of importance on students having relevant co-op or internship work. We hire these roles several months in advance, so students should be very proactive when seeking out their internship or co-op opportunities. IT/IS is an ever-growing space, and we will continue to grow in this area.”

Passion for the field is important, too. “An ideal candidate is someone that enjoys cybersecurity as more of a hobby than job,” says Josh Neffinger, vice president and Director of Information Assurance at Eastern Bank. “To be good in this field you need to always be immersed due to the pace of change.”

Students were able to rub shoulders with hiring managers like Swan and Neffinger. One student, Chuta Sano, a sophomore at UMass Lowell, says he has had an abiding interest in cybersecurity ever since he was hacked as a boy in Japan playing MapleStory, an online multiplayer game. He became fascinated by how he was hacked and learned a lot about encryption and computer science before he went to college.

As a Japanese citizen, Sano realizes some of his cybersecurity options are limited, although he is considering giving up his Japanese citizenship (Japan does not allow dual citizenship). “I’m still undecided whether I focus on cybersecurity because I’m also interested in quantum computers (which I guess leads to cybersecurity), virtual reality, and machine vision. I’ll have to slowly decide as I study more on those topics,” Sano says. The event also saw a strong showing from other UMass schools, along with 20 other local colleges and universities, including Worcester Politechnic Institute. Twenty-six students attended from Northeastern and 66 students attended in all.

The students heard from John R. Schramm, VP of Global Information Risk Management and Chief Information Risk Officer for Manulife Financial, who outlined his career path into the dynamic and changing world of cybersecurity. Schramm is responsible for Information Security, Business Continuity, Technology Risk, Risk & Regulatory Management and GRC technology services across Canada, the United States and Asia. Schramm is responsible for board reporting of the information risk management program and regulatory coordination for global information risk.

Other companies included Draper Labs, Carbon Black, CyberArk, Eliassen Group, IBM, ISACA, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, MIT Lincoln Labs, and Hanscom Air Force Base.