DoD Looks to Area High Schools to Fill Future Ranks of Cyber Pros

3 mins read

Photo: Cheryl Pellerin

The Defense Department wants budding techies to know a successful career in IT and cybersecurity doesn’t have to start in Silicon Valley or at an Internet giant, such as Google.

The Army, Air Force and the office of DoD’s chief information officer hosted about 50 area high schoolers at the Pentagon last week for the fifth annual IT job shadow day.

For the students, it was about providing a glimpse into the oft-unknown world of defense technology.

But the Pentagon also saw future cyber warriors emerging from the visit.

“We’re trying to get the high school students interested in information technology so we can establish a pipeline of students and future employees for the Defense Department and the federal government,” said Joyce France, director of CIO management services for the DoD chief information officer.

The students got a dose of what the life of a DoD cyber professional is like, according to an American Forces Press Service report. They received briefings on social media and cybersecurity, and they toured the DoD Network Monitoring Instruction Center and learned how to apply for federal jobs.

Students also heard pitches from the Pentagon’s IT wing, the Defense Information Systems Agency about cyber defense.

“This is an opportunity to crack the door a little bit to give students a peek inside the Pentagon,” France said.

DoD sees the program growing. By the end of 2011, it expects about 200 students to participate.

And, they hope the program will continue paying dividends years down the road, as today’s tech-savvy high school students grow up to some day populate the cybersecurity workforce — maybe even at DoD.

“We want them to understand that DoD is an employer of choice,” said Tina-Marie Buckman, DoD information technology work force team lead. “It’s not just join DoD to join the military, it’s not just a desk job — it’s exciting, relevant and needed professions within the Department of Defense. We can be the employer of choice, and we want to be.”

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