Tag Archives: employment

Filling the Cybersecurity Talent Pool

I seem to see a new article weekly raising the alarm about the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs. A 2015 report from (ISC)2 projects the shortfall to rise to 1.5 million worldwide by 2020. A recent Harvard Business Review article highlighted the gap in the number of skilled cybersecurity professionals and offered some insight into how we can bridge that gap through educational programs and by hiring non-traditional employees. My aim with this post is to start a dialogue on creative ways to attract fresh minds and new faces to the field.


First of all, what traits are most desired in a security professional? I would submit that a strong sense of curiosity is important. Those creating hacks and spreading malware are certainly curious about how much trouble they can cause so it stands to reason that those tasked with detecting intrusions should also be curious. The next question is are people born curious or can it be learned? The authors of a 2015 Fast Company article suggest that we are all born curious but many lose their sense of curiosity, and it can be regained through discipline.

It is also important to have a keen sense of patterns. I believe that everyone seeks out patterns in order to make sense of chaos but some have an innate sense of irregularities that others cannot see. As pointed out in the Harvard Business Review article, machine learning is augmenting that pattern searching and discovery but it will still take human intelligence to find security anomalies.


In order to train and retain more cybersecurity professionals we are going to have to change our thinking on where they come from. They don’t necessarily all come with a four year computer science degree in their pocket. Some do have that credential to be sure and they excel in the field, but we are going to have to cast a wider net in order to fill the gap. When I think of the traits of curiosity and pattern recognition I think of trained musicians. Is it possible that someone could be a security expert during the day and a musician at night or vice versa? Do we need to look closer at how we match up hobbies and vocations? Can the lines be blurred between the two?

Harvard offers an eight week introductory online course in cybersecurity through HarvardX. This is one of several online courses that allow a prospective professional to test the waters. This is a great way to match up potential security enthusiasts with information on the field. A graduate of this course may decide to go on and take advanced courses either online or at a nearby college training center. This will hopefully lead to certifications and a job offer in the field. As employers facing a skills shortage, it is important to be flexible in who we seek and how we view their academic and professional background. Perhaps expanded internships are in order for the right candidate.


These ideas can apply to other fields facing employee shortages but I think it is important to stay flexible on who we view as potential hires. If we continue to look at a narrow pool of candidates this gap is only going to grow. Let me know your thoughts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

Making Education Accessible and Affordable

book of knowledgeHow can we creatively make higher education more affordable and accessible? I am wrapping up preparations for a course on innovation later this month and my thoughts turn to ways to apply innovative ideas to higher education. There are some new ideas that have developed over the last several years such as online delivery, but they have not always been implemented in a deliberate and holistic manner. I am hoping that you will weigh in and help me figure out how we can create new solutions to this long-standing problem.

What Is Our Mission?

Harvard professor Clayton Christensen suggests that there are really three purposes of higher education and that we as universities and colleges often dilute our focus and try to cover all three areas with a confusing combination of products. The three suggested areas are:

  • knowledge creation, or research;
  • knowledge proliferation, or teaching; and
  • preparation for life and careers.

Christensen claims that universities use three different business models to deliver these value propositions, creating confusing products in the process. He suggests that we be clear and purposeful about our mission, our value proposition, and how we deliver our product. This clarity can help reduce program administrative costs and therefore help reduce tuition.

Innovations in Education

Universities and colleges have been working through different delivery methods in recent years to make higher education more accessible. Several of these have been centered around online delivery. Correspondence courses have been available since the mid-nineteenth century and as technology and networking improved, these morphed into online courses. To make education more accessible, massive open online courses (MOOCs) were developed that enrolled thousands or even tens of thousands of students in various subjects. These are free or low cost but do not generally grant credit. Some universities such as Stanford are experimenting with hybrid MOOCs whereby a student can take the online course and apply and pay for credit. The University of Pittsburgh is experimenting with what they call a HOOC or a hybrid open online course. In this model, the course is offered online and onsite simultaneously and at some point during the course, the online students can join the onsite students synchronously, often offering input through tweets or other discussion applications. Online education—in all its forms—has made learning more accessible to those that are not near a college or cannot take courses at the time prescribed.

Employer Criteria

One of the most important factors in aligning higher education with employment is understanding what an employer wants in an educated worker. Are they looking for someone with a broad four-plus year education and exposure to many ideas and thoughts, or are they looking for someone that has proven mastery in a particular area? Would a series of technical certificates prove the worth of a potential employee, or do they need to produce an advanced degree from a recognized college or university? I believe the problem is two pronged and we need to address both areas. As mentioned earlier, universities need to develop expertise delivering in a prescribed area rather than trying to cover all business models. Additionally, employers need to be precise in their requirements for employment and not add layers of education that are unneeded. If we can tackle these two areas, then we can come closer to matching delivery to expectation and drive down the overall cost of education while increasing accessibility.


Do you have specific thoughts on innovations that will help lessen tuition and make education more accessible? I know that greater minds than mine are working on this very problem and I welcome your input and ideas. Perhaps together, we can come up with a solution.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

What May Be Expected of an Undergraduate after Graduation

Today’s post is written by Anna Grigoryeva, an undergraduate student working part-time with the AIM Program. As the economy and job market continue to be affected by changes in information technology, the growth of social media, and access to big data, we wondered how today’s undergraduates are managing and interacting with today’s information. We asked Anna to share her thoughts on preparing to enter the job market.

Anna GrigoryevaAs a senior undergraduate at the University of Oregon, it is with excitement that I say I am ready to graduate this upcoming June. I started attending the University of Oregon in 2010, right after I finished high school. While I was attending high school, I started early college at Portland Community College, where I pursued my Associate of Arts Transfer (AAOT) degree. When I entered UO, I had more than sixty transferred credits and was determined to study what I pictured my career path to be… or so I thought. And the journey began.

I changed my major at least five times. Starting off with a focus on interior architecture, then some political science courses, to actually changing my major to political science! Unfortunately, the subject dulled for me, therefore I pursued the next appealing subject, which happened to be economics. I became dissatisfied with my dead-end career choices after declaring economics as a major and made another switch—this time to business. Later, I pursued journalism with a concentration in advertising and public relations. I went through so many majors, my parents decided to put a stop to it. They knew I wanted to graduate in three years, so they encouraged me to make up my mind, and fast! Finally settling on a major—general social sciences with a concentration on economics, business and society—was the most suitable decision I made. It was perfect, because I already had some background in economics, business, journalism and political science, which fit the major requirements. For this reason, I am graduating early.

My classes range from arts and languages to mathematics and sciences. I decided to take a wide variety of classes outside my major because I wanted to learn things I never would have discovered otherwise. In this economy, I believe that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t impact your future much. Unfortunately, I feel it is recognized as equivalent to a high school diploma nowadays. I know I want to pursue my master’s one day, but with all the loans I took out, my master’s degree will have to wait a little longer. Right now, what matters is all the connections you make—your social network, your job/volunteer/internship experiences. Employers are looking for recommendations outside your classroom. Some of them don’t even check your transcripts, and that can be frustrating because we know how much effort we put into getting good grades. That’s why I chose the path that I did. I’m happy with the degree I chose and the ability to graduate a year early. I feel that I have experienced college at the UO and acquired many skills and plenty of experience for my prospective employment and nonemployment opportunities.

If I happened to graduate with just my degree, without any previous job experience, it would be difficult for me to find a job. So far, all employers that have interviewed me focused mainly on what kind of experience I have, or generally, what I have to offer. Because my background ranges from social sciences to arts and sciences, I am a very creative person. Therefore, I decided to publicize myself via social networks. I started building my LinkedIn professional network, where future employers may see my job description and recommendations from people I worked with. My Facebook and Twitter pages are professionally-oriented in that I make sure everything on them is appropriate and professional. I created an online portfolio where people may look at my projects and possibly contact me for future employment.

I believe that, in the current work field, being open minded and having a broad range of experience is important. It’s also necessary to show interest in new developments within your occupation. Although it is ideal to have a degree in economics, business and society, it is also beneficial to have a well-rounded background because employers are seeking individuals who are able to cope with the potential hardships that they may encounter in a work environment. Some experiences that have made me a more well-rounded person are: becoming president of the German club; earning a bachelor’s degree in science; gaining work experience through helping with the Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program’s blog and social networks; acquiring skills as a technical support assistant; interactions and connections made through Relay for Life volunteer work as the online chair, and recently as a marketing and publicity coordinator for an on-campus magazine for women, Her Campus Oregon. These skills and experiences, along with others, compose my profile and display how social and busy I was throughout my educational career. I’m ready to graduate and am anticipating showing my prospective employers what I have to offer.

After graduating, my plan is to become a full-time adventurer and move to Germany whilst pursuing an occupation with an open position in the marketing/advertising field. Eventually, I would enjoy embarking on a new educational journey by pursuing a master’s degree there.