A national nonprofit organization has launched a female veteran apprenticeship program to help members bridge the gap from military career experience to cybersecurity careers.
Women In Cybersecurity, known as WiCyS, is dedicated to its mission to recruit, retain, and advance women in cybersecurity.
Established in 2012 by Dr. Ambareen Siraj of Tennessee Tech University with a National Science Foundation grant, the organization has grown to 6,000 members, 19 professional affiliates in North America, Asia, Australia and Europe and 97 student chapters in six countries. WiCyS became a member-based registered 501c(3) nonprofit in 2018. Five percent of WiCyS members identify as veterans.
Siraj said the impetus for creating the program came from statistics showing female veterans make up almost 10 percent of the veteran population and that female veterans have a higher likelihood of unemployment compared to male veterans, single parenthood compared to male veterans, and homelessness compared to female non-veterans.
U.S. Department of Labor reported women veteran unemployment rates from June 2020 to May 2021 averaged 5.8 percent.
“Finding ways for our military veterans who have already served and protected our nation to transition from defense to cyber-defense into these high demand, high paying jobs is a no-brainer,” Siraj said in a WiCyS Veteran Apprenticeship Program webinar. “We need them and they earned this opportunity to be considered.”
WiCyS is collaborating with Smoothstack, a DOL-certified apprenticeship program, and employer partner SentinelOne.
An apprenticeship is an industry-driven career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction and a portable, nationally recognized credential, said Martha Laughman, Smoothstack director of workforce development.
The collaboration will offer selected veterans paid training, a paid apprenticeship and secured employment program.
The immersive training includes working on employer projects, curriculum and certifications, along with mentorship from the veteran’s WiCyS mentor, Laughman said. Qualifying WiCyS veteran members will be placed in roles including security operations center analyst, network operations center analyst, and penetration testers.
To qualify for the program, the veteran should have basic knowledge of programming languages, hands-on experience, training or education in computer science or related fields and CompTIA Net+ and Sec+ training.
No prior work experience is required. The position does require U.S. citizenship and the willingness to relocate. Relocation assistance is provided.
WiCyS also offers a Veterans’ Assistance Program which works to support veteran members and grow the cybersecurity workforce by moving more female veterans into cybersecurity. The assistance program offers discounted WiCyS membership, WiCyS Veteran Fellowship Award opportunities, an exclusive community forum and the opportunity to work with partners and sponsors for job placement and access to the directory of WiCyS veterans for external opportunities.
For more information about the Veterans Apprenticeship Program, the Veteran’s Assistance Program, or how to apply, go to wicys.org.