Executive MBA alum initiates cyber security internship program
“We need to have people [interns] right-out-the-gate, top-of-the-class kind of folks. One, they are going to be able to participate and contribute, and, two, it helps to build that relationship in a good way from the very beginning,” said David Jones, a 2004 graduate of the Executive MBA program.
Jones discovered these individuals at his alma mater and paved the way for B&E students to obtain real-world, cyber security experience. As a result, he hired Sevatec, Inc.’s first cyber security analyst interns, senior Management Information Systems (MIS) majors Nicole Cesa and Victoria Parisi.
“Dr. (Graham) Peace is a friend of mine,” Jones said. “When this idea came to mind, my first call was to Graham. I said, ‘I would like to start an internship program, and I’m really looking for some good students.’”
Dr. Peace, assistant dean and associate professor of MIS, recommended two of his standout students.
“Both Nicole and Victoria were immediate. They were the two first names that came right out of his mouth, and so, I reached out to them,” Jones said. “After a phone call or two and some exchanges, I knew they were terrific students. You can tell when you talk to someone if they have the depth of thinking.”
Jones is the deputy program manager at Sevatec, Inc. for the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) contracts. Sevatec serves the federal government as an ISO-certified, externally rated Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 3 management and technology consulting firm focused on designing and implementing innovative solutions.
“There are a variety of different missions bureaus under the Department of Commerce serve, but they all have sensitive information. They all have information that is important. We certainly don’t want adversaries of the United States or any hackers getting into patent and trade information for the United States,” Jones said. “Even though the Department of Commerce is not commonly thought of as a high priority department like DOD or Department of Homeland Security, the reality is our government contains a lot of information that if it got into the wrong hands could be used in ways to interfere with our economy, to interfere with our culture.”
With high-profile cyber security issues in the news and the depth of services Sevatec provides, Cesa and Parisi drive an array of projects, including highly technical tasks. These female trailblazers appreciate that they can apply what they have learned in their courses to ventures impacting the United States.
“It’s going really well, especially because we have already had two information security classes last semester. From learning all the information, I feel like I can really apply it and understand what’s going on here,” Cesa said.
In addition to being the first interns at Sevatec, Cesa and Parisi are differentiating themselves by beginning their career endeavors in a male-dominated industry.
“I started out going into my major as a marketing student. I knew that I was good with computers, so I looked into the MIS program and thought to myself, ‘Oh, I think I would really like this,’” Parisi said. “People always ask how many girls are in the major, and really, there are quite a few. It’s encouraging to see more girls get into the major.”
Jones said, “It’s great to see this from WVU, who I know encourages greater participation in STEM majors and STEM careers for women. They [Cesa and Parisi] are evidence that this working. They’re at the top of their class. They’re serious, dedicated and committed not only to the career, but to the mission we have here, and that’s exactly what you want. The fact that they’re here is worth celebrating, and the fact that they happen to be female is great, but the fact they’re great students makes us proud to have them as interns at Sevatec.”
Jones contributes his aptitude for business, project management, data analysis and more to lasting impressions of the Executive MBA program.
“The principles and responsibilities that are engrained through that program and the concept of entrepreneurship are some things that I use every day – absolutely every day,” Jones said. “Whether it’s hiring people, like Nicole and Victoria; whether it’s tracking budgets; whether it’s managing deliverables; whether it’s working with our government customer; every part of that has been touched by some principle that was given to me out of that program.”