Nearly every major U.S. city is looking for someone like Alix Dubernard.

Dubernard, a Mexico City native and recent computer science graduate, is a problem solver with a rigorous, do-it-yourself work ethic. She’s the type of student the technology industry strives to attract.

She graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio in December with a degree in computer science and a minor in cybersecurity.

As a child, this wasn’t where she saw herself. When Dubernard, 27, migrated to the U.S. at age 11, she wasn’t fluent in English, and she had never been much of a techie outside of playing computer games.

Her father, Alain Dubernard, came to the United States after a career as a pastry chef abroad to work at the Culinary Institute of America campus in upstate New York. The family moved to San Antonio in 2011, when the elder Dubernard came to head the baking and pastry program at the institute’s San Antonio campus.

The move to the U.S. was a culture shock. And after settling in San Antonio, Dubernard was unsure for years what career she wanted to pursue. That is, until she was introduced to the world of software in an unexpected place: a psychology course.

That experience turned Dubernard, who had been working as an insurance marketer, into a highly sought-after potential employee for cybersecurity firms.

Dubernard was pursuing a degree in psychology when she began at UTSA in 2016. But after taking a class on psychology and artificial intelligence, she became interested in technology and programming. She began teaching herself Python, a primary coding language, based entirely on information she gleaned from websites such as Reddit and Code Academy.

She developed cybersecurity programming skills quickly. Next month, just over three years after her education in computer science began, she’ll start work as an information security analyst with USAA. She interned with the San Antonio insurance giant in summer 2018 and earned a second internship with the company in 2019.

On ExpressNews.com: At USAA, cybersecurity is a ‘24/7 problem’

“With psychology, honestly, all my friends that graduated with a degree in that are not working in psychology,” she said.

Soon after that psychology and AI course, Dubernard began pursuing a degree in computer science.

In her first technology course, Dubernard met members of UTSA’s Computer Security Association, a club for cybersecurity enthusiasts.

At first, it was a small group — about 10 people — that would meet once a week. It grew, and Dubernard began competing in the national Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, known as the CCDC, which was founded at UTSA in the mid-2000s.

“It started with AI for me, but then I got involved with this club and so I was like, ‘I really like the security side of it,’” Dubernard said.

Although jobs in information technology are some of the highest-paying in the nation, a large gender gap in the field remains.

Women received 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees earned in 2016. But that year, just 1 in 5 bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences were earned by women, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

On ExpressNews.com: Comptroller: Cybersecurity industry has the jobs of the future

Information security analyst is one of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S., as cybersecurity attacks proliferate and data privacy becomes increasingly important for consumers. That means nearly every business will need some level of cybersecurity expertise.

In 2018, the average information security analyst in the San Antonio metro area earned just less than $96,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And nationwide employment in the field is projected to grow by 32 percent by 2028 — much faster than the 5 percent average growth rate for all occupations over that time.

That growth makes sense. In 2018, more than 31,000 cybercrime incidents were reported to the FBI across Texas and part of Louisiana and New Mexico, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Those cybercrimes amounted to $220 million in losses that year, a sign of the high-stakes nature of working in cybersecurity.

“That’s the job. You have to be informed, you have to be reading the news about (cybercrimes),” Dubernard said. “That’s part of why its a pretty stressful job, because if you mess up, the whole company could be completely damaged. It’s a big responsibility.”

Still, competitive programs such as the CCDC, as well as Cyber Patriot, a similar high school-level cybersecurity competition, have sparked interest among students in information security and cyber defense.

On ExpressNews.com: Retired brigadier general, pilot takes helm at UTSA’s national security center

The CCDC features teams of students who defend against cyberattacks by the “red team” — typically made up of industry professionals.

“It’s like what you would encounter in a company but very intensified,” Dubernard said of the competition. “I think I ended up knowing a lot more than if I had just taken my classes. Most of what I learned in security is from being in the club.”

Dubernard said she encourages other students to participate in clubs or study coding outside the classroom — and attend a lot of career fairs — to get ahead in the job market.

“I’ve found, about this, that it’s not your degree or your experience — it’s what you know and what you’ve been involved with,” she said. “USAA, they told me they were looking for people who were doing (cybersecurity) as a passion and were involved in more than only school.”

Such is the case with Dubernard, the first in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree. She said that while defending against mass cyberattacks can be stressful, the job fits her puzzle-solving mindset.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Shqip Shqip አማርኛ አማርኛ العربية العربية English English Français Français Deutsch Deutsch Português Português Русский Русский Español Español

National Cyber Security Consulting App







National Cyber Security Radio (Podcast) is now available for Alexa.  If you don't have an Alexa device, you can download the Alexa App for free for Google and Apple devices.