Talented students, particularly many female and minority students are unaware of the career opportunities available to them in cybersecurity. The government and CISO/CIO partner organizations can help colleges and universities grow the talent pool for qualified cybersecurity professionals by creating and publicizing internship opportunities for students. Presently most internships in cybersecurity recruit junior and seniors at four year universities who have already declared their majors and who may already be on a path to a career in a computing field. Innovative internship approaches are needed to reach out to high school and community college students who are in the early stages of decision-making about their career paths.
Many federal agencies are located in Washington, DC or a few other major metropolitan areas limiting the ability for high school and community college students from around the nation to readily engage in internships with them. Creating “virtual internships,” led by high school and community college faculty acting as externs and team leaders, is a means to have a much broader reach to the hundreds and thousands of students we must engage in this effort in order to address the challenge of protecting the security of our technology systems. Gaining participation by high school teachers and college faculty also serves to spread the word about career opportunities to many students beyond those just involved in the internships.
Companies and federal agencies should declare the summer of 2016 a summer of cybersecurity and focus on funding and creating challenging live and virtual internships for students and externships for teachers and faculty.