Like the private sector, the need for IT and cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. military is currently greater than the supply of available workers. Students who are not familiar with the military often do not realize that they can work for one of its branches without enlisting for service.
An event at the end of last year brought together community college students, faculty, and staff from Ventura County’s three U.S. Navy bases to discuss cybersecurity job and internship opportunities. Paula Hodge, ICT-DM Regional Director in the South Central Coast Region, organized the event with the additional hard work and dedicated efforts by the staff from the U.S. Navy, college faculty, partnering nonprofit Workforce Educational Coalition, and community college staff members.
“We were excited as all 3 Warfare Centers (NAVAIR, NAVSEA, and NAVFAC and college POC’s were represented,” Hodge said. “Additionally, the Cybersecurity Engineers provided an overview of Information and Communication Technology from their perspective,” commented Celine Park, a project specialist in the Career Transfer Center at Moorpark College.
There were 20 students from Moorpark College and 20 students from Oxnard College. In addition, 12 ICT faculty members from across the South Central Coast Regional Consortium also participated, representing Moorpark College, Oxnard College, Ventura College, Antelope Valley College, Santa Barbara City College and Allan Hancock College.
The program included a presentation from the Navy’s Chief Information Officer, as well as what the Navy looks for in its job candidates. Hodge said this information was particularly helpful as faculty are thinking about their course curricula.
“Colleges need to bring forward students who are employable, and faculty need to clear on the path for them to do that,” Hodge said. “Once it’s established, then it can constantly be replicated.”
Faculty also enjoyed learning about the military career pathways and how they can develop lasting relationships with the bases in the area.
“It was great to see such a strong showing for this event and to see the relationships that were being built with our IT counterparts at the naval base,” said Alex Lynch, a computer networking instructor at Oxnard College.
Ed Garcia, program lead in the Computer Networking Systems Engineering Program at Moorpark College, said students also benefited from seeing the variety of pathways to IT careers in the military.
“What was really awesome about the event was that the presenters came from different pathways into their Navy employment careers,” Garcia said. “One of the presenters was a young college graduate, followed by a seasoned IT person, then someone from private industry that found employment on the base.”
Hodge and Park also worked with the Navy to set up a special website where students could send their resumes to be considered for IT internships. This resulted in 15 students being selected for a cybersecurity summer internship with the Navy.
“The multifaceted efforts led by the Naval Warfare Centers’ presenters garnered a lot of interest and enthusiasm. As a result, many of the students applied to the cybersecurity internship,” Park said. “The diversity of experiences, ages, and culture represented by the presenters captivated the audience because they spoke about their personal journey that led them into the field of cyber warfare.”
To learn more about this effort, contact Paula Hodge at Paula.Hodge@canyons.edu.