Cyber Security Pros Discuss Careers with Students

MCCC Executive Director of Information Technology Security Bill Rosenbaum (at top left) and Princeton University Chief Information Security Officer David Sherry

POTTSTOWN PA – October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and at Montgomery County Community College its Women in Science and Technology Initiative used the opportunity to learn more about jobs in the cyber security field.

The group was formed during Fall 2019 to encourage more female students to enter the computer science and technology fields. It recently hosted Bill Rosenbaum, the college’s executive director of information technology security, and David Sherry, chief information security officer at Princeton University, for a discussion about cyber security careers.

It began with a question about what candidate qualities Rosenbaum and Sherry look for when interviewing for cyber security job openings.

“Aptitude and attitude,” Rosenbaum replied. “Are you able, in an interview, to convey some relevant skill and experience as it relates to the position description? Especially for entry level positions, can you talk about coursework, or do you have some experience in an internship, or you’ve done some work in a home lab, or for family and friends that may be relevant?”

Then Rosenbaum said he looks at a candidate’s ability to learn. Those in cyber security often “are challenged to be able to take in new information, assimilate quickly, and apply it to our environments to be able to protect technology and data,” he said. “So understanding how you learn, and being able to show or demonstrate how you apply it, are extremely important.”

Sherry agreed. He wants to see candidates who are passionate about cyber security. It’s important, he said, to have a professional who wants to help and protect others. Another question he asks candidates is, how do they secure their own home network? Their answers offer insight into how much thought and attention they would put into protecting the college or university’s network.

Both agreed the best part of the job was the fact that it’s constantly evolving. There’s always something new to learn and ways to grow, they said. “I’m not the same person I was in 2008, as I am today and won’t be the same person in 2023,” Sherry noted.

Challenges in cyber security include keeping up with new threats to systems, they said. Each suggested subscribing to podcasts and YouTube channels that discuss the latest threats and how to deal with them.

“There are good resources online now that communicate the threats and challenges we face as individuals,” said Rosenbaum, “that do so in accessible way that’s not filled with overly technical jargon.”

The job can be stressful, yet Sherry said he doesn’t let it get to him. “I handle the stress well,” he said. “Nothing keeps me up at night unless my favorite sports team blows a game. We cannot prepare for everything. We do everything we possibly can and there are processes in place to detect, respond and react really quickly to a threat.”

Rosenbaum said he takes comfort in the fact that there is a community of cyber security officials, like Sherry, facing similar problems, who are available to talk to for guidance or support. “The struggles are not mine alone,” he observed.

Photos provided by Montgomery County Community College