Authors: Bella DeShantz-Cook, Security Operations Engineer 

Jennifer Bennett, Communications Manager

The dramatic skills gap in the cybersecurity industry is well documented, with one report predicting 3.5 million unfilled positions by next year. That’s a huge problem considering the rise in cyber attacks, exacerbated by the WFH response to the pandemic.

The cybersecurity industry is working hard to fill this gap, but maybe not in all the right places. There’s so much more that we can do as a community, especially when it comes to creating new pathways for minorities to excel in the field. We must generate new passions and interests in future careers in cybersecurity for underrepresented minorities. Many of us were inspired as a high school or college student to imagine the endless possibilities and we assure the same opportunities are available and not out of reach in all communities.

An inspiration to women everywhere regardless of color is former first lady Michelle Obama.

The Reach Higher initiative efforts inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. A lot of today’s youth have a variety of interests, but by the time they reach high school, most need the extra guidance and mentorship to bring their career dreams to fruition and start their career journey.

Enter the Synack Academy, a cohort program in partnership with Blacks in Cybersecurity (BIC) aimed at providing up-and-coming individuals from underrepresented minority groups access to career pathways in technology and/or cybersecurity through structured, support-driven training and mentorship.

BIC will spearhead working with high school and college students to gain industry certifications as well as mentoring and provide a gateway to full-time positions and internships in the cybersecurity industry.

Through weekly virtual cohort check-in meet-ups, mentorship by Synack staff and/or Synack Red Team members, and a structured weekly curriculum schedule, the goal is to provide participants with the opportunity to gain foundational technical knowledge and subsequent skill-sets.

In partnership with BIC, our first cohort will complete the Google ​Technical Support Fundamentals via Coursera with the goal to recruit a cohort of 10 young aspiring cybersecurity professionals (ages 16-18) through BIC and Awakening Stem. A second cohort will consist of 10 young aspiring cybersecurity professionals from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country.

The Synack Academy Details: 

  • Cohort Start Date: Monday, Dec. 7, 2020

  • Cohort Duration: Three Months (curriculum can be completed as quickly as six weeks, but participants will have up to the full three months of the program to complete it, if needed.)

  • Application Deadline: Please submit your application by Wednesday, November 25th.

The Synack Academy mission is to create a welcoming and inclusive environment in cybersecurity anchored by ongoing mentorship. The Academy programs are designed to ensure student participants receive comprehensive technology and cybersecurity education in which their unique circumstances and skill-sets are recognized, their goals are supported, and their developmental needs remain at the forefront.

BIC seeks to educate and operate in a way to expose cybersecurity as a hobby and outlet that can be experienced in any walk of life, in a casual and no-pressure environment. In reimagining the traditional way in which knowledge is shared and presented, and adopting a philosophy that encourages lifelong learning, skill building and “tinkering” with concepts to gain hands-on understanding, BIC seeks to change the face of what a stereotypical cybersecurity professional or hobbyist may look like.

Two key tenets of the program are scale and sustainability. Synack will ensure the program is sustainable (time, funding, resources) and will scale over time to support additional cohorts from within the high school and HBCU communities. As students in the first cohort complete the program, they will not only have the beginnings of foundational knowledge for continued learning and careers in technology from the Google course, they will also have the confidence and support to continue this learning process. After the cohort concludes, students will be able to continue through the remaining classes in Coursera to earn the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, which will demonstrate to potential employers their competency in IT.

Through the Synack Academy and BIC, students will have the foundational knowledge and confidence to continue their cybersecurity journey and pursue further knowledge that can be applied to many fields within the technology and security sector. It’s a start!

Posted by Charlie