ISA student lands cyber job in ideal spot
KENNESAW, Ga. (Mar 1, 2019) — One conversation during his internship in Washington, D.C., last summer made Aaron Schwartz realize how respected Kennesaw State University is in the cybersecurity field.
Schwartz was interning with Booz Allen Hamilton, a management and information technology consulting firm, and he was introduced to a member of the cyber assessment and authorization team. He recalls that, as soon as he said he is majoring in information security and assurance at Kennesaw State, the Booz Allen staffer turned to Schwartz’s internship leader and said, “You have to give this guy a job!”
“I was amazed that someone from out of state immediately recognized KSU's information security program as one of the best,” Schwartz said. “That moment when I realized how well Kennesaw State is known in the cybersecurity industry let me know I’m doing something right.”
As further evidence of that, Schwartz has a full-time job waiting for him. He will become a vulnerability analyst with Booz Allen Hamilton after he graduates in May with his ISA degree.
Even better, the Roswell native will start his career close to home. After receiving the job offer, Schwartz requested to work at Booz Allen Hamilton’s Atlanta office rather than in Washington, D.C. – and the company agreed.
“My grandmother always taught me to ask for what I want,” Schwartz said. “Family means a lot to me, and I wanted to stay near them. Plus, I’ll be working in a part of the country where there is high demand for people with cybersecurity knowledge and training.”
Schwartz credited the Michael J. Coles College of Business for connecting him to the internship with Booz Allen Hamilton. He explained, “I tell my classmates all the time that the Coles College’s Internship and Co-op Advising department (in the Undergraduate Programs Advising Center) is amazing.”
Schwartz said he also has benefitted from the expertise and industry connections of two ISA professors “who literally wrote the book on cybersecurity,” Herb Mattord and Michael Whitman. The book Principles of Information Security, co-authored by Mattord and Whitman, is a classroom and industry standard for teaching all aspects of information security.
“I can’t imagine that any other college of business networks people better than Coles does, especially in ISA,” Schwartz said. “I have been able to experience an industry-leading program. I love Kennesaw State. There really isn’t any place else like this.”
Another benefit of the Coles College’s Department of Information Systems, according to Schwartz, is the amount of practical knowledge he has gained in classes such as the ISA Programs and Strategies capstone. The course – which Mattord describes as “a finishing school for CISOs (chief information security officers)” – is divided into weekly modules of tasks and strategies, such as assessing how effective a simulated company’s security policy is and devising how to improve it.
“Being able to say you’ve completed projects like that is a key talking point in a job interview,” Schwartz said. “You haven’t just learned about something – you’ve actually done it.”
Schwartz also has been active in cybersecurity initiatives outside of the classroom, as a member of the Offensive Security Research Club (OSRC). Recently, he coordinated a partnership with University Information Technology Services (UITS) to educate students about Duo, a two-factor authentication service that students will begin using in March to access their KSU digital accounts. The club set up information tables on both Kennesaw State campuses to sign up students for Duo and educate them on why the system is necessary to protect credentials for university accounts.
“Aaron is a great student and has shown leadership in his role to help promote security practices across KSU with the Offensive Security Club,” said Mattord, the interim chair of the Department of Information Systems and associate director of the Center for Information Security Education at Kennesaw State. “He is showing us all that it is not enough to be a good student; you need to work at making a difference in the world.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.