How to elevate your cyber career as a student: Roncs Etame-Ese
ISACA Greater Washington, D.C. Chapter (GWDC) continues it’s partnerships with and support of local universities and academic institutions. The success story of Roncs Etame-Ese is another way in which ISACA GWDC can help make a difference.
If someone would have told me that I would be a rising star in a highly competitive industry, I would have believed them, but I would have a hard time figuring out how I got to this stage. As I look back in time, I never truly had a plan, but I jumped at any opportunity that I could realistically accomplish, and everything else fell into place. My path into cybersecurity did not start off smooth, all I knew was that it was emerging and highly in demand. While I was enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College, I reached out to the Director of the Cybersecurity program, Dr. Margaret Leary, to get a better understanding of the field and what I needed to do as a student to stand out amongst my peers. I asked myself, how can I take the knowledge that I’ve learned from the classroom and land an internship with the right company.
Outside of the classroom, I spent a lot of time attending meetups, as well as participating at on-site and virtual capture the flag events. I also had the distinct pleasure of representing NOVA on a live panel with The Atlantic to discuss the education path with other co-panelists from colleges in the Washington metropolitan area. Through Dr. Leary’s CyberWatch page, I applied for an internship with a small cybersecurity consulting firm, Triple Point Security, and that helped me discover my passion in this industry. Following graduation from NOVA, I landed an additional summer internship with the U.S. Coast Guard through the Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s Honors Program. With a diverse set of knowledge and experience, I developed technical skills but most importantly, soft skills that would help me build professional relations.
As I began to network, it is through different events that I began to learn about professional organizations that could sponsor student memberships. While I have not formally been inducted into ISACA, and attended several of their events where I got introduced to highly distinguished individuals, heard their stories, and learned from their experiences. Through my participation in the National Cyber League (NCL), I connected with a participant via LinkedIn and they introduced me to the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP). Through their website I discovered a cybersecurity scholarship, applied for it during the summer, and two weeks into the semester, I received an email notifying me that I was a recipient of the Marci McCarthy Cybersecurity Certification Scholarship. The third annual conference was to be hosted in Atlanta, Georgia and the theme for this year was “The Diversity Game: Changing the Cybersecurity Workforce Landscape.”
While I was very honored and thrilled to have received this scholarship, I was uncertain if I could even attend due to school and internship obligations. By God’s miraculous timing, I ran into Professor Babur Kohy, a Doctoral student in cybersecurity at Marymount, told him about my situation, and he advised me that I should attend the conference. On top of that, I was given an additional scholarship from ISACA GWDC that provided supplementary assistance. I met a lot of my professional connections in person, heard from various panel speakers discussing the diversity gap and how to build those bridges. My biggest takeaway from attending the conference was that I need to pay it forward, and I’m hoping that I can motivate other students to work just as hard and understand that it’s okay to be different from others.
With all these accomplishments, it can be a challenge to remain humble, but I always tell myself to never be content and to set higher goals. I often found myself as being the youngest person in the room and I am learning to embrace it. Moving forward, I would like to impact our community in terms of cybersecurity outreach and education. Cybersecurity is a very robust field, and if we want to solve the issues that we face today, we need diverse ideas and different ways of thinking. As I continue to pursue my education at Marymount University, I’m hoping that in these next two years I can make an impact in this community and bring students from different backgrounds together.
To learn more about ISACA GWDC’s Academic Relations Programs, please contact: Academics@isaca-gwdc.org
Jason joined ISACA in 2006 and presently serves as GWDC Past President. He’s served on the Chapter Board of Directors since 2014. Jason is very involved with ISACA Global and some of his volunteering consists of serving on the Chapter Services Working Group, Leadership Development Advisory Council, and contributing significantly to CISA and CISM exam preparation content. Jason has received 40 under 40 Awards from AFCEA International for his contributions to the STEM field and from Leadership Center of Excellence for his leadership in the Washington, D.C. region. Jason is an Associate Partner within IBM’s Cybersecurity and Biometrics Practice. He holds the CISSP-ISSAP, CISA, CISM, and PMP certifications.