Provost speaker: Hit ‘enter’ on a cybersecurity career
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
“There will always be a demand for what you do.”
It’s what Grand Canyon Education Chief Information Security Officer Mike Manrod told students during his Provost Speaker presentation this week.
It is National Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week, and the College of Science, Engineering and Technology has organized several events to expose students to careers available in the cybersecurity field.
Manrod reminded students that a career the the field may not always look the way they expect. It’s more about adapting what they enjoy and what they are good at into a cybersecurity job. He listed cybersecurity jobs within fields such as journalism and business, for example.
“Everyone will watch something like ‘Mr. Robot,’ see these complex, advanced skills of a narrow niche, just like, as an athlete, you watch the Super Bowl and think, ‘All right, I want to be the Super Bowl quarterback,’” he said. “These conversations help them discover, ‘Oh, I think cyber is cool, but I really have business acumen. I’d like to sell cyber products’ or ‘I’d like to be the person who manages solving all the problems everybody finds’ or ‘I’m the tinkerer that likes to find the problems.’
“It kind of allows having these conversations with students, and then, especially the dialog and the great questions they ask is something I feel helps them crystallize their own specific path they can follow to translate their natural gifts and their knowledge, skills and abilities, ultimately, into the right job for them.”
Elizabeth Fair, the lead for the 360 Learning Program, joined the presentation to help share tips on how students can get involved now. The 360 Learning Program, which typically allows eight students per year the opportunity to see how IT operates, is one of these options. Fair also listed clubs, internships and the Cyber Center of Excellence as other useful starting points for students looking to get involved.
In addition to Manrod’s talk, CSET has organized several events to educate students on careers in the field. On Tuesday, a panel of companies from Grand Canyon University’s Innovation Center spoke at the Cyber Center of Excellence about cybersecurity careers. Companies on the Promenade and in the Student Union are visiting with students, too, focusing on cyber opportunities.
Although National Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week is primarily for students seeking a cybersecurity degree, it offers something to students from all areas of study.
“I loved the diversity,” Manrod said about the students who attended his presentation. “We had a lot of diversity in the room, a lot of people who weren’t in cyber degree programs necessarily. Only about half the hands were in a cyber degree program. That means we’re getting diversity of thought, diversity of perspectives, people from different walks of life and that’s what we need.
“If we try and approach the problem of cyber with a group of us that all came from the same path, that all look at things the same way, we’re going to miss things, and they’ll be things that the attackers wont miss.”
Manrod’s presentation was just one in a series of talks in which speakers from various career fields shed light on the ins and outs of their industries.
“The Strategic Employer Initiatives & Internships team partners with the colleges to execute the high-level Provost Speaker Series,” said Strategic Employer Initiatives & Internships Manager Aysha Bell. “These employer-led workshops allow our GCU students to gain a ‘peek behind the curtain’ so they can understand current opportunities and challenges facing various career fields, along with hiring trends and the necessary preparation to be successful in industry.”
As for how CSET selected its cybersecurity speaker, there was never a doubt Manrod was the perfect fit.
“Mike Manrod has been very active in curriculum development, he has helped a lot at the Cyber Center of Excellence in Building 66, and being the IT security director, we thought it would be a great opportunity for students to hear from someone who’s active in the field,” said Technology Project Manager Katherine Urrutia. “He is what students want to be. They want to be Mike … they want to oversee a whole team for a major company. … We thought it would be great for him to come in and talk to our students.”
The final event of the week is the Capture the Flag event in the hallway outside the Cyber Center of Excellence from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Teams will make their way through various mazes, answer questions and tackle coding so they can capture the flag and win the game.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or email@example.com
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