According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, only 4% of the federal government’s IT jobs are done by people under the age of 30. So, they have set out to change that with the¬†Cybersecurity Talent Initiative‚ĄĘ. The third cohort launched recently, with 27 recent undergraduate and graduate students landing at federal agency positions this fall. This round is not only the largest group yet for the Partnership, but it’s also the most diverse.

The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative

It’s never enough to simply talk about getting a younger population in cyber and government. You have to take steps to do something about it. And the Partnership for Public Services offers an opportunity for recent college graduates to land at a federal agency for two years. After service is complete, participants can apply for a position with a corporate partner, making them eligible to receive up to $75,000 in student loan assistance. Participants can gain experience with agencies like the FBI, DHS, and the DoD, and be in prime position to land a cybersecurity job at the end of the fellowship.

Corporate partners like Microsoft and Accenture get access to educated candidates who now have experience and a security clearance. And with this third cohort, 63% of the respondents have a master’s degree, increasing their competitiveness in the field. Almost half of the group is female too.

The Goal

In order to change the face of government, it takes small changes in many places over time. The Partnership for Public Service would love to see participants return to work directly for the U.S. federal government. And some have done just that from the first cohort. This spring will provide new data when participants make their decisions on where to go at the end of their two-year stint.

And two years in cybersecurity is the perfect amount of time. Getting a chance to have a positive experience working for the federal government can make participants more likely to transition back in the future. With job gaps across all sectors, a cross-sectored solution is required, with industry and agencies working together to build a talent pipeline. Participants can find jobs with their agency or corporate partners. And some have branched out to other companies at the end of their time in the program.

But building on their education with hands-on experience is a key way in shaping the cyber workforce. And offering jobs, opportunities, and networks throughout the process sets young talent up for success in the field.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.