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Applications Open for Free Cybersecurity Training Lab at USF

reliaquest cybersecurity lab training

By Elizabeth L. Brown

TAMPA (January 12, 2022) – If you have a knack for sleuthing and a passion for stopping hackers and other scamming bad actors, a career in cybersecurity might be for you.

University of South Florida students have the chance to put their interest in preventing security breaches to the test in the free Spring 2022 ReliaQuest Cybersecurity Labs program hosted by a leading cybersecurity technology and services provider. Applications are open and the first boot camp meeting is slated for early February.

The competitive program is offered through the School of Information Systems and Management within the Muma College of Business.

The first-of-its-kind program launched in Fall 2018 when ReliaQuest made a $1 million gift to fund the hands-on training program. The initiative is designed to equip students with the skills necessary to fill the talent gap in the emerging cybersecurity field — one where there is a longstanding labor shortage.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects “information security analyst” is among the 20 fastest growing occupations through 2030 and will have an employment growth rate of 33 percent. The 2020 median pay is at an eye-popping $103,590 per year, according to the bureau.

The training program is open to all current USF students, regardless of major, who are registered for Spring 2022 courses. The four-week immersive session teaches fundamental cybersecurity skills. The hybrid program is divided into four labs, with the first lab session held in-person and the last three offered online.

Interested students will attend an information security boot camp online meeting on Feb. 11 and go through a brief screening interview in late February. Organizers will choose up to 60 students for the training.

While the program is highly technical, no prior technical skills or technical knowledge is required. A desire to learn is the most important factor, said program organizers.

Graduates earn a certificate and select students who are successful in the program will be invited to interview for internships or full-time positions with the company.

Auggie Haile, who graduated from the cybersecurity training program in Spring 2019, believes the program is a great starting point for students interested in cybersecurity and who want to gauge what type of position might be the best fit for them.

Haile now works as a detection developer team lead at ReliaQuest, an opportunity that arose from an internship at the company that Haile secured after completing the program. Haile has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and the program essentially launched Haile’s career in cybersecurity.

“I had never considered cybersecurity as a viable career path,” Haile said. “When I walked into the bootcamp, I was completely clueless and couldn’t have even explained what a firewall was. For me, the program is what opened the door into this field.”

“Experience isn’t necessary to be successful in the program, but a willingness to learn and actively participate definitely is. This program dramatically changed the trajectory of my career,” Haile said.