COVID-19 had a significant impact upon college students’ ability to gain experience in their field through summer job programs. In many cases, these offers were withdrawn or accepted positions were cancelled as the pandemic made it infeasible for students to be on-site.

MorganFranklin, however, recognizes the importance of gaining real-world experience via summer opportunities. When the COVID-19 pandemic made on-site summer programs impossible, MorganFranklin’s Cybersecurity team pivoted to a summer externship program.

A Glimpse “Behind the Curtain”

MorganFranklin Consulting provides global cybersecurity consulting services, operating in a multitude of cybersecurity verticals, or “pillars,” and providing specialized expertise and support.

As part of their externship experience, students had the opportunity to learn more about MorganFranklin’s cybersecurity pillars direct from the source—the company’s team of experts. The leader of each of each pillar discussed the challenges their clients face, and how MorganFranklin consultants help them to overcome these issues. Each presentation was designed to help students identify areas of personal interest and to provide insight into potential cyberseucrity careeer options.

Students were also given the opportunity to apply what they learned in these presentations to real-world scenarios.  In preparation for their externship, students were encouraged to research details of recent data breaches.  As part of each presentation, our participants dove into the details of each breach and discussed how implementing best practices within a particular area of cybersecurity could have enabled a particular breach to be prevented or mitigated.

Gaining Real-World Experience

The opportunity to gain real-world work experience is a crucial component of any student work program because they enable students to bridge the gap between classroom theories and common professional challenges.

As part of their externship experience, particpants conducted a research project designed to enhance their understanding of the cybersecurity service industry.  Externs were encouraged to research the competitive landscape and identify ways in which MorganFranklin’s cybersecurity services differed from competitors. The project culminated in a brief presentation where externs outlined their findings and demonstrated their understanding of the information provided by the service leads’ presentations.

Preparing for the Future

In the not too distant future, this summer’s groups of externs will be looking for their first professional cybersecurity position. For that very reason, the final day of the program was devoted to job preparation. The discussion spanned from tips on building an effective resume and social media profile, to advice on useful certifications and specializations within the field.  Each extern also had the opportunity to participate in a virtual mock interview with two of MorganFranklin’s cybersecurity’s service leads.

The externship experience culminated in an awards ceremony in which each extern received a certificate for their participation in the summer program. Additionally, one extern, Gabriel Schram, was awarded a $1,500 scholarship to support their studies in the following year. Gabriel was selected based upon his participation throughout the externship, answers to the scholarship application questions, research project, and mock interview performance.

Supporting the Cybersecurity Workforce of the Future

Cybersecurity is a growing field with a widely acknowledged “skills gap.”  We feel that it is our responsibility as cybersecurity professionals to ensure that the students of today are as well-prepared as possible to start their professional careers in the field of cybersecurity. While we missed having our externs around the office, it was great to engage with them virtually and we wish them much future success.