Information Systems Security at Travelers
"My classes at CSP helped me recognize my strengths."
Q: Share a favorite moment from your time at CSP.
A: The way I got my job. It was an IT [Information Technology] case competition at Travelers where a team from my database design class came up with a solution to their [Travelers’] IT problem. I was allowed to participate as a PSEO student. We got second place out of six or seven teams and we were the only team in Minnesota to place. That’s also what hooked me on computer science.
Q: What internship or volunteer opportunities did you participate in? How do you feel those experiences prepared you for professional success and a career after graduation?
A: After the IT case competition, Travelers asked me, “Do you want to interview for an internship?” I didn’t think I was qualified, but I went for it and I got the position. During my internship, I worked with a different team on the policy side. It was nice because I got to see the policy and governing side of why a big company needs a security program, how ours works, and why it exists in general. After that initial summer, I transferred into my current team in Incident Response and Threat Intelligence.
Q: What are your next steps?
A: Right now, I’m going to continue working to improve in my current role. Even though I’ve been in the role for two years, it’s a 150+-year-old company with many areas in and out of IT to be discovered. There is room to learn. And in that aspect, I’d like to continue on to a graduate degree.
Q: Do you feel prepared in your next steps? How did Concordia help you on that path?
A: My classes helped me recognize my strengths. Most of the computer science classes had a personal project AND a group project that was similar to your personal project assignment. For one, we built a website for a local coffee shop. In the group, I was really able to find my specialized role. Some people were really good at front-end items, and I was able to dive into the infrastructure, servers and getting them to work on the internet. After CSP, you’ll be well-set for a junior development position.
Q: If you could give advice to anyone who wants to follow a similar path, what would it be?
A: Find something that gets you excited and do that. I initially declined the opportunity of adding my math major because they didn’t offer the kind of math I wanted to do. However, I was able to do an independent study in number theory for cryptography (encryption) which is totally relevant for security. Today, I keep my books from that class on my desk. It’s good to know the math behind security and how the parts fit together when new things come out. The class was helpful and difficult with a lot of late nights, but that understanding is something that I use every day.
Q: What is the most valuable takeaway from your time at Concordia?
A: Today, I get paid to have passionate debates about specific technical details, which is great! *laughs* I was lucky to be able to experiment in high school, do PSEO, and take a bunch of classes. The takeaway: I took the computer science class because I had four extra credits. I didn’t know it would turn into my career!