How the Cyber Security Program Helped my Career

One of the best ways to learn about the quality of a cyber security program and what it can do for your career is to hear directly from the students and alumni from the program.

Tell me about a moment when you realized your cyber security degree was helping you further your career goals? There were many moments when my cyber security program helped directly impact my career goals. Lessons and discussions held in the classroom related to daily problems in the workplace, and my having the ability to use the classroom to help refine management or technical solutions resulted in my being a more capable manager in my work. Additionally, the lasting friendships and partnerships I developed with my fellow students in the cyber security cohort have resulted in an ongoing study group for industry certifications, networking opportunities, and scouts for new employment opportunities. -Nick Kaywork MSIS ’13

What experiences did you have while in the cyber security program that have had a lasting effect on your career?

There were two things that had the biggest effect on me during the program. The first would be our global residency to London and Berlin. I enjoyed meeting and interacting with people in positions that I aspire to and the whole trip brought many of the topics discussed during the program into a real life perspective and understanding. A very close second would have to be the discussions and interactions with my fantastic cyber security cohort. I’m really going to miss our Saturday discussions and debates along with the close friendships that I developed over the course of the program. -Erik W. Schroeder MSIS ’14

What was one of the greatest benefits of the masters in cyber security program?

One of the greatest benefits to the program is the blend of management, public policy and engineering. These three directly relate to the three pillars of cyber security; people, policy, and technology. This program was my first introduction to public policy. That aspect of the program has drastically changed the direction of my career.

Due to professors and the classes we had, I was able to step foot into the US public policy domain and was enabled to thoughtfully engage with key stakeholders. I have been able to help shape the outcomes of the Cybersecurity Executive order of the President to include the cyber security framework, economic incentives, and critical infrastructure protections. Additionally, I was asked to join the Council on Cybersecurity as a part of a technical expert panel to review the 20 Critical Security Controls. Before the program at Mason, these activities seemed out of reach, and now I’m right in the middle of them. -Ashley Pyles MSIS ’13

What career advice would you give to other cyber security program students who are about to graduate or fellow alumni who are already in the workforce?

Don’t be scared to ask to be involved. Just ask. People hate to say no. -Ashley Pyles MSIS ’13

Take time to study the industry on which you are spending tuition money and time in classrooms. Join industry associations; get involved early with your fellow students and future business partners. Engage each other to act, do not be complacent in your role as either a student or community member. Volunteer, intern, take on jobs that are “beneath you” but are in your new industry. If you work hard and apply yourself daily, you will be noticed and your value to the organization recognized. -Nick Kaywork MSIS ’13

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Mary Crowson

Mary Crowson is a program operations specialist for the Research Partnerships and Grants Initiative within George Mason's School of Business.

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