A degree alone may not be sufficient to get ahead, guest speaker Dr Mike Westmacott told students during a Securing a Career in Information Security workshop.
Dr Westmacott, Chair of the British Computer Society Young Professionals Information Security Group said employers were increasingly seeking candidates with some work experience.
Speaking to some 50 Bedfordshire computing security and forensics students at the workshop during the event organised by the University of Bedfordshire's Student Branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Dr Westmacott explained that the IT network security industry was expanding, but getting graduates at entry level ready for the world of work remains a challenge.
Dr Westmacott, who has more than ten years experience in computer networks security development, said: "Computer networking graduates need skills combinations to get ahead in their careers – gain your degree but also aim to gain some industry experience through work placements or internships. This approach will give you the edge over other graduates and better demonstrate your skills to potential employers."
Information security career options available to computer networking graduates include Penetration Testing (testing systems to prevent hacking), system and network forensics (analysing data files for criminal or unlawful downloads) and business continuity (alternative IT worksite and IT disaster recovery).
Dr Westmacott added: "Having an academic grounding when you enter the world of work is great, but many IT companies are increasingly expecting graduates to be work ready with some industry experience upon graduation - technical support and IT Helpdesk roles are an excellent starting place to get on the ladder to becoming an expert in information security."
Event organiser Edewede Oriwoh said: "We were so pleased to welcome Dr Westmacott. He is a passionate advocate encouraging graduate calibre computing network students to enter the security information industry.
"On behalf of the students and the IEEE I thank Dr Westmacott for his excellent presentation and hope he returns to the University soon to inspire more Bedfordshire computing students."
Dr Paul Sant, Principal Lecturer in Computer Science in the University's Department of Computer Science and Technology said: I'm delighted Dr Westmacott came to speak with our computing students and to emphasize that for many it can be as important to gain valuable work experience as it is to excel in your subject of study when it comes to landing your dream job. Work placements and internships can make all the difference."
The Student Branch of the IEEE, based in the University's Faculty of Creative Arts, Technologies and Science, was formed in 2010 and is seeking more partnerships with professional bodies and local businesses in Bedfordshire to provide computing and engineering students with valuable contact with industry. The Branch is a local member of IEEE - 'the world's largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence'.
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