Julian has always had good computer skills. She gained a whole new level of understanding on how she could put them to good use when she joined the Early College program, a collaborative effort between the Howard County Public School System and Howard Community College. As a sophomore in high school, she began taking courses at the Applications and Research Laboratory (ARL), gaining some early perspective on what the field of cybersecurity is all about. Today, as a high school senior, she takes all of her classes right on the HCC campus, and her career goals have become crystal clear.
“I want to be a penetration tester, which means a company would hire me to attempt to hack into their system,” she said. “My job will be to identify gaps that allow a hacker to get in, and come up with solutions to keep them out.”
Courses such as Introduction to Intrusion Detection Prevention Systems and Firewalls and VPNs at HCC, along with the internships Julian has completed at Tenable Network Security and Bouyant Technologies, are paving the way for her success.
“Working in the field is really helping me see how what I am learning in school corresponds to the real world,” Julian said.
Julian is on track to complete her associate degree in cybersecurity in May 2018, just one year after she earns her high school diploma. Like many of her fellow Early College students, she says the decision to get a head start on earning college credits was one of the best decisions she has ever made. In addition to forming relationships with professionals in her field through her internship experiences, she has built bonds with classmates who have similar interests and goals. It’s made learning fun, but has also given her direction and focus in life, she said.“I have grown so much as an individual and feel like, even though I am young, I have a firm grasp on what my future holds,” Julian said. “I know what I want to do, and I am so focused as a result.”