Featured August 17, 2020 Change-making women in government: Celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment Back to Blog Meet Michelle Massarik, a young woman taking on the world of cybersecurity Date September 8, 2020 | Updated on July 14, 2021 Authors Abby Palazzo Tags Workforce When Michelle Massarik graduated from the State University of New York at Albany in May, she wasn’t sure how she would apply her cybersecurity degree. Then she found the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative, a program that places recent college graduates in two-year assignments at federal agencies followed by opportunities to work in the private sector. “The CTI had a lot of benefits that excited me,” Massarik said, citing a placement at one of 13 different government agencies, student loan assistance and an invitation to apply for a job with the program’s corporate partners at the end of the two years. Because the program required applicants to have graduated in the spring of 2020, she asked herself, “What better way to get work experience in the government?” She applied, and a few months later was accepted as a fellow in the program’s first cohort. “I felt like an industry pioneer,” she recalled. “I was so excited.” Starting a new job remotely has been challenging, but Massarik said it’s well worth it. “I really enjoy working with my group because the culture is very welcoming and diverse,” Massarik said. “I’m new and have a lot of questions, but everyone is willing to help me learn new things.” “The government has a lot of senior employees and that’s why this is such a good opportunity for a young professional like me to gain this work experience,” she said. According to data from 2019, only about 23% of cybersecurity positions in the federal government are held by people under the age of 40. When asked to give advice to other women who want to pursue cybersecurity careers, Massarik said, “Go for it. There’s a lot to learn and it feels good to do something outside the box and do something different.” Massarik isn’t sure what her future looks like, but she is excited to be a part of the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative and see where this experience takes her. “It’s a great opportunity, and the program has a lot of career development opportunities for anyone who is unsure of what they want to pursue,” she said. “It’s a great stepping stone in the right direction.” For more information on the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative and to find out who else is in the program’s first group, visit the CTI website or contact Brittany Moore at [email protected]. Read more about the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative on our blog: Closing the cybersecurity skills gap: A Q&A with CyberVista CEO Simone PetrellaThe Cybersecurity Talent Initiative: Recruiting the next digital defenders This post was written by Abby Palazzo, a former intern on the Partnership’s communications team.