"I started my college career at Norco College while working part-time at Walmart. I was taking only general education courses, and once I was ready to transfer to a four-year university, I decided on California State University, San Bernardino. I had heard good things about the university from a family friend who had received their bachelor's and master's degrees from CSUSB. The school was also local and affordable.

Before transferring, I had no idea what I would choose as a major. I just knew I wanted to do something in computers. As I was getting ready to transfer, a counselor at my college advised me to look into cybersecurity based on my grades and interests. She also advised me to look into the campus' CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS).

I liked the idea of majoring in cybersecurity, however I felt I was underqualified for the scholarship. I spoke to Dr. Tony Coulson, director of the CSUSB Cyber Security Center. He encouraged me to apply despite my lack of knowledge.

To my surprise, I was informed I would be receiving the scholarship. This was the changing point in my college career.

The most challenging thing about cybersecurity is there are many different paths you can go down. And once you zone in on what area you like, you have to go beyond the classroom. I had the opportunity to participate in things that helped shape and give me experience, which was helpful since I had no prior information technology experience.

Before entering CSUSB I was a lazy, unmotivated student who only did what was required to get good grades. The cybersecurity faculty and students at our school are what motivated me to participate and do more. [Professors] advised me to volunteer and participate in projects. The students I met as a member of the Information Security Club were dedicated to building themselves into college graduates who would stand out to employers. The environment and network of people surrounding me aided in my motivation for success.

I would recommend anyone who is interested in IT to pursue a career in cybersecurity. You are constantly learning and having to evolve with new technologies as the field progresses. You can be super technical, or you can find yourself on the policy side of cybersecurity. The field needs individuals from a variety of backgrounds.

Within two years of arriving at CSUSB I was able to shape myself into landing a technical job, which was what I wanted to achieve.

Taking the initiative to learn beyond the classroom and participate helped me a lot. As a member of the Information Security Club, students can host or be a part of projects, meet industry representatives and volunteer at STEM-focused events like GenCyber, as well as participate in cyber competitions and conferences. These are all the things employers want to see on your resume — the willingness to learn more and give back to the cybersecurity community."

 

Jessica Chapman graduated from CSUSB in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in information technology/cybersecurity. She works as a cybersecurity analyst at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Learn about cybersecurity degree programs at the CSU.