“Real-world experience like the OmniSOC internship always helps build on the educational experience.”

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According to IBM: The demand for cybersecurity professionals is outstripping the supply of skilled workers. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows the number of new cybersecurity programs has increased 33%, but the demand is growing faster as cybersecurity is now considered mission critical in most organizations.

That’s why each summer for the past two years, OmniSOC has held the OmniSOC internship program for students attending OmniSOC member institutions. This year, like last year, the program will be a virtual workshop due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s program saw 36 participants receiving certificates for attending at least five of eight different sessions over the span of four weeks.

In the spotlight: Rutgers student/IT Pro/OmniSOC intern Jason Jacob

Jason Jacob could have been your typical overachieving undergrad at Rutgers University, but he has distinguished himself with a singular focus on cybersecurity and technology as he prepares himself for future leadership positions in the field.

Jacob is now working in the Incident Response team at Rutgers. “That has allowed me to look at incidents whether it’s spam, abuse, security, etc., and respond to them and help out with any needs that the team may have,” said Jacob.

How did he get there? Here is his story (so far).

Jacob says the seminal moment that relates to cybersecurity, “which started my career,” was the OmniSOC internship in the summer of 2019 that allowed him to work with the Indiana University (IU) team and the Rutgers University team.

Rutgers, IU, and other Big Ten Academic Alliance schools created OmniSOC, the shared cybersecurity operations center for higher education and research. OmniSOC collects cybersecurity data from partners; integrates this data with other threat intelligence; conducts proactive threat hunting; and monitors, triages, and analyzes security events.

Jacob was a member of the first internship cohort of ten participants. According to Tom Davis, OmniSOC founding executive director (now retired), the goal for that inaugural program was threefold: “to enhance employability, improve academic outcomes, and crystalize career choices for our students. We believe these types of opportunities are critical for training our students for successful cybersecurity careers.”

“The OmniSOC internship came one month after I had left an accounts payable position,” he said. “We met for our first meeting on May 24 of 2019, and the internship ended on July 31.”

“Cybersecurity is an ever-growing field, so what drew me to it was that there’s always something new to learn, and there’s always a puzzle to solve,” he said. “There’s always something interesting to find. Cybersecurity has been growing exponentially, especially with the rise of working from home and technology advancements.”

“The OmniSOC internship allowed me to get an understanding of cybersecurity and how day-to-day operations work. I don’t think many students get that initial opportunity during their undergrad education, so I’m very thankful when it opened up and appreciative that the Rutgers SOC team gave me the opportunity.”

Jacob said he received an “email blast” from one of his major’s email lists, and that is how he found out about the program.

“Going to Indiana allowed me to see how operations work from an educational perspective and helped me to understand how cybersecurity works from that aspect,” he said. “That allowed me to further my knowledge in other parts of technology and network and security operations and build on those experiences, especially attending the workshop with Elastic. That allowed me to understand everything more in-depth.”

Jacob says the whole internship experience gave him a broad understanding of cybersecurity operations, networks, network center operations, and how everything comes together. “That drew my interest even further into where I am currently as an incident response analyst at Rutgers. Real-world experience always helps build on the educational experience.”

With his path focused on cybersecurity, he got the opportunity to take many classes that interested him. His current Master of Business and Science program allows him to focus on cybersecurity management and policy and study cybersecurity, technology, and business more in-depth while also gaining valuable security certifications.

In addition to the OmniSOC internship, Jacob notes his other real-world experiences. “Working as an information security intern at Société Générale and working in IT audit at Brown Brothers Harriman gave me an understanding of what I wanted to be and what I wanted to focus on career-wise.”

“Finance/Pre-Business was my major my freshman year,” said Jacob. “I got the opportunity to work full-time in accounts payable for approximately three years as an undergrad. That allowed me to understand and work in a corporate environment. During sophomore and junior year, I switched to a double major in Information Technology and Informatics and Labor and Employment Relations. That allowed me to get an understanding of the law, business, and management with the Labor and Employment Relations major, an understanding of business from freshman year, and then the IT and informatics aspect with a focus in cybersecurity.”

Jacob will look to begin his next challenge in June with a Master of Information with a focus in technology, information and management and data science. He believes this will allow him to expand his expertise and better understand how technology works. “It will help me when I look for roles down the line in terms of moving into management or a senior-level role,” he added.

Learn more about the OmniSOC internship program.