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NJ Cybersecurity Virtual Conference: Connect, Collaborate, Careers

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On October 16, 2020, the first-ever New Jersey Cybersecurity Conference was hosted virtually by Seton Hall University. The conference, conducted via Microsoft Teams Live Streams, ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and consisted of three 50-minute sessions, with two conference options in each session, as well as two keynote speeches and a conclusion (see chart below). The main goal of the conference was to highlight career paths and opportunities in the field of cybersecurity while also addressing the enormous skills gap in the industry—a crisis referenced in last week’s article, “Cybersecurity - Jobs in Great Demand.”

chart of the virtual cybersecurity conference schedule and events

Speakers discussed career opportunities available to students of all concentrations, although most openings were geared toward students in MBS’s Computer & Information Sciences track. In addition to the overall industry skills gap and worker shortage, speakers discussed specific industry needs versus the very few professionals qualified to fill those needs.

I found it particularly interesting that all speakers discussed a need for workers who can “talk the talk” of business, yet also have soft skills and a technical background—this being the exact goal of the MBS program!

Speaker Sam Curry discussed the role and function of CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) and some particulars about how corporate cybersecurity works. In this talk, Curry mentioned that the average tenure of a CISO is just 12 to 22 months. This is due to the fact that most CISOs come from a very technical background; when it comes to conducting business-based meetings and making business-based decisions, they are unable to translate their technical knowledge into the business language necessary to connect with other chief executives and make business-oriented decisions.

Two side by side images discussing the needs of corporate cybersecurity and the biggest problem for CISOs. The needs are: organization, governance, talent, employee training, and cybersecurity programs and policies. The biggest problems are alignment to the business, talking the language of the business, and not being the "nerd" at the table.

Curry then touched on a theme also noted in Emsi’s recent labor-market analytics report, Build (Don’t Buy) A Skills-Based Strategy to Solve the Cybersecurity Talent Shortage

Technical skills can be taught to individuals coming from business backgrounds and other nontechnical career areas—even disciplines such as law—if candidates are willing to learn. (Emsi’s report showed the following occupations as “feeder” industries.)   

Chart showing common career areas that transition into cybersecurity. This includes: Information Technology and Math, Business and Finance, Sales and Customer Service, Office and Administrative services, and lastly protective services.

Curry mentioned that law, in particular, is one of the most valuable backgrounds when it comes to running a corporation. 

The sessions were more than just talks and presentations held by professionals: The sessions “Diversity Employment in Cybersecurity: Opportunities for Women and Minorities” and “A Day in A Life” featured Q & A sessions via a chat box through which participants could ask their questions. This added a potential networking opportunity for participants. 


Overall, this event gave a comprehensive overview of the Cybersecurity industry as well as the many career opportunities available within the field.  Speakers explained how individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds can find opportunities within the industry and how employers are seeking individuals who possess a wide range of skill sets from a variety of backgrounds and occupations, including the ones mentioned above.

A fitting conclusion came from a speaker with a background in economics, who said, "you can always acquire new skills to get to where you want to be as long as you are willing to learn".

Riya Patel 
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