Cybersecurity MBA Students Help Seton Hill IT Manage Risk
Cybersecurity Risk Management is a brand new MBA offering at Seton Hill. Yet two students in the program, Joshua Miller and Jaden Mack, already have jobs in the field. Both are working as graduate assistants, supporting Seton Hill’s Information Security Officer & Executive Director of Information Technology Tony Krance in managing cyber risk at the University.
“We give students experience in three different environments,” Tony says. “The University’s business side, the systems used for education, and risk associated with personal devices used on-campus and in residence halls. So it’s a good opportunity for them, no matter where they want to go career-wise. Plus they’re a great help to us.”
Both Jaden and Josh earned bachelor’s degrees at Seton Hill before enrolling in the Cybersecurity Risk Management MBA Program.
“I came here in the fall of 2018,” Josh says. “I only knew that I liked video games and computers on my orientation day. I ended up enrolling in computer science, cybersecurity and math as majors. I thought the overlap between computer science and cybersecurity would allow me to get the mathematics major, however I didn't have the credits and ended up moving math to a minor.”
“With a history of networking within high school,” Jaden says, “I had developed a passion for tech. When cybersecurity was offered as a degree, and after seeing the content of the classes - like learning about the dark web - I thought I could have a ton of fun learning about a new and growing field. In my junior year, I picked up the computer science major as well.”
The new Cybersecurity MBA Program, introduced in fall 2022, came at exactly the right time for both of them.
“I had always been interested in management and business,” Jaden says. “My dream is to eventually start a tech company, with this the MBA with Cybersecurity Risk Management is perfect. I also believe that this is a huge step to becoming a CISO one day.”
"I want to learn how to handle business practices as best as possible with the mindset of maintaining cybersecurity. I believe that this opportunity is helping a huge aspect of my career I have been wanting to work on, which is actual technical work experience."
“When the Cybersecurity Risk Management MBA program became public, I knew that was the program to take,” Josh agreed. “I was fortunate enough to work as a work study in the IT department from the fall of 2019, which granted me the opportunity to extend to a new position as a GA Cybersecurity Specialist.”
Working in IT
The GA Cybersecurity Specialist position is structured like a part-time job. Josh and Jaden have signed confidentiality agreements and work in the IT Office 29 hours a week. They have specific responsibilities and are held to the same standards as employees. In return, they receive a significant reduction in the cost of their MBA while gaining invaluable on-the-job experience.
“Josh had already been working in the IT department for three years and has been a tremendous help,” Tony says. “Jaden started this year and he’s already proven to be a great writer with a knack for taking technical information and making it engaging for non-technical users. Together they make a real difference.”
Josh and Jaden assist IT with network monitoring and analytics; creating educational content for IT’s support site; and working with students, faculty and staff members who need updates or patches to make their devices more secure.
“I believe that one of the most interesting aspects of this work has been cyber threat research,” Jaden says. “I was allowed to come in contact with one of the phishing attackers, through a fake account. This was to do research and gather information on an attacker who sent phishing emails to users throughout the school. This helps us to better understand how to prevent these attacks in the future.”
“The most interesting part for me has been learning how the school operates behind the scenes,” Josh says. “Seeing the data flow and the systems interact with each other that not many get to see. It's also been the most challenging, mainly because there's a lot of little moving parts you need to understand before you get the big picture. They can be small moving parts, but someone is responsible for it and without taking care of them something will probably stop working.”
A Crash Course in Time Management
Jaden and Josh are both student-athletes who had an extra year of availability due to seasons being canceled or curtailed during the pandemic. This makes for a unique graduate school/work/athletic experience - and a crash course in time management.
“Managing the time commitments is definitely a challenge,” Josh says, “but certainly not impossible. Another great benefit to the MBA program is my coursework is entirely asynchronous online work. This allows me to get in my GA hours during the day, my lacrosse hours when scheduled, and do my MBA work in all the time in between.”
“Every day is full because of this,” agrees Jaden, who plays football for Seton Hill. “Whenever I have free time between tasks I usually am trying to do another task to help get on top of another task. This is all teaching me time management, and I appreciate being productive.”
Neither Josh nor Jaden seem to mind their full schedules. They are also in agreement about the value of their GA Cybersecurity Specialist experience.
“It feels natural,” says Josh. “IT revolves around constantly learning. I'm only a few classes into my MBA program but I have already found things from my MBA work that I have applied into my Cybersecurity Specialist position.”
“It is amazing,” Jaden says. “I try to take in as much as possible from my managers, like Tony. I want to learn how to handle business practices as best as possible with the mindset of maintaining cybersecurity. I believe that this opportunity is helping a huge aspect of my career I have been wanting to work on, which is actual technical work experience. I believe that I learn more and much faster from real work experience.”