SENEDIA hosted 32 high school students at CCRI from the Providence Youth Works 411 program on Friday, August 5. The focus of the afternoon was to discuss and bring awareness to the careers and opportunities available in the field of cybersecurity. Youth Works 411 conducts a summer program for students to explore various careers, acquire job readiness skills, and to help bring awareness to the pathways and programs that are available to students.
“Cybersecurity is a high-demand, high-wage career” SENEDIA Education Outreach Coordinator Linda Larsen told the students. “There are numerous opportunities right here in your very own backyard.” With the majority of the students in attendance being rising juniors, career awareness is critical. Industry awareness is also critical as students often are unaware of the work that many of our business partners engage in every day here in RI. Making connections between their high school course selections, a post-secondary path, and industry allows the student to make the necessary connections that enable them to visualize themselves in those jobs of the future.
SENEDIA Director of Programs Townley Knudson, provided the students with an overview of the work that SENEDIA is doing to facilitate workforce development in the field of cybersecurity. Being the lead for the Real Jobs Rhode Island Cybersecurity Partnership, she shared with the student’s how they could participate in future internship opportunities and certification training sessions. “Industry certifications are key. We highly encourage students to work on their degree, participate in an internship to gain industry experience, and obtain a certification as soon as they have completed their coursework.”
One of the highlights of the afternoon was visiting the CCRI Cybersecurity Lab and Cyber Range. “We will be able to simulate all types of real-life scenarios with this equipment” Mike Kelly, Chair of Computer Studies at CCRI told the students as he led the visit. “We have worked really hard to develop a Cybersecurity program that will work for you and provide you with the necessary coursework that will allow you to be successful in the field of cybersecurity, once you walk across our stage.” The CCRI Cybersecurity program will provide students with a strong foundation and the necessary hands-on training for entry into the cybersecurity sector.
All three presenters also stressed to the students the importance of their digital footprint and their behaviors. Obtaining a security clearance, or at a minimum a background check, was an absolute. They need to be mindful of their on-line posts, as well as their life choices.
Overall, student feedback was very positive. One student said, “I am very interested in this work. However, I never knew there were opportunities like these that would help me along the way. I also never knew that CCRI had this program.”