Break into the tech industry with the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative
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Break into the tech industry with the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative

October 10, 2023 | Updated on October 26, 2023

Ramatu Mohammed, Cybersecurity Talent Initiative participant

Ramatu Mohammed spent two years as an IT cybersecurity specialist at the State Department through the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative, a Partnership program that places recent college graduates in two-year fellowships at federal agencies and provides the opportunity to learn from cyber leaders in the public and private sectors.

Mohammed credits the program with helping launch her career in the tech industry and expanding her professional network. In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, she spoke to us about her time in CTI and the benefits of cross-sector cyber experience.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

What initially drew you to a career in cybersecurity?

While working in advertising and sales at a tech firm, I became interested in understanding how our network platform could be protected. This led me to cybersecurity, where I could contribute to a safer digital environment and continuously learn in a field that offers limitless potential for development.

What about the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative appealed to you?

I knew that each aspect of the program—from working in both the public and private sectors to gaining mentors and refining my cyber hygiene knowledge—would significantly contribute to my professional growth and development. CTI seemed like the perfect steppingstone for me to embark on a rewarding career in the field, equipping me with the necessary skills and support to excel as a cybersecurity leader.

How did CTI prepare you for a career in cybersecurity?

As someone eager to break into the tech industry but feeling uncertain about the process, CTI helped me gain a foothold in this dynamic field. Through the program, I was paired with an exceptional mentor who understood my strengths and weaknesses, helping develop my technical skill set with personalized guidance.

My managers at the State Department encouraged and pushed me in my career, but they also acknowledged that this was an opportunity for me to grow as I entered a new field. Their support was instrumental in building my confidence and motivation to excel in cybersecurity.

What were the benefits of experiencing cyber work in both the public and private sectors?

Working in government helped me understand how legislation and regulatory requirements influence cybersecurity practices, which proved useful in navigating compliance-related challenges. Through my private sector experience, I witnessed the rapid pace of technological advancements and the agility required to adapt to ever-changing cyber threats. This duality equipped me with a well-rounded skill set, making me versatile in various cybersecurity settings.

Additionally, having insights into both sectors expanded my network, enabling me to connect and collaborate with professionals from different domains, fostering innovation and broadening my horizons in the cybersecurity landscape.

What would you say to encourage someone to apply to CTI?

CTI is not only a learning opportunity but a chance to expand your network. You’ll connect with fellow participants, building valuable connections that will propel your career forward.

If you’re shifting gears into tech with limited experience, this program is the perfect way to get your foot in the door and embark on an enriching journey in the tech industry.

Applications for the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative are open now. Visit GoGovernment to learn more about the program and start your application today.  

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