Jion Yi began her undergraduate education wanting to study international relations and foreign affairs, but in 2016 she decided to break out of her comfort zone and pursue a different interest: programming. It was a difficult transition. In her first computer programming course, she received her lowest grade ever and “felt thoroughly defeated.”
“I felt as if I didn’t really belong to the field,” said Yi, the winner of InfoSec Institute’s 2018 Undergraduate Cybersecurity Scholarship. “Many people I run into in computer programming courses and career fairs, they had known from the beginning that they wanted to be in programming and cybersecurity. I felt like I was very late in the game.”
Yi’s now a senior at the University of Washington pursuing double degrees in International Studies and Informatics, with concentrations in Human Rights and Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (IAC).
Her new goal: become a cybersecurity expert for human rights.
Winning the Undergraduate Cybersecurity Scholarship
As the winner of the Undergraduate Cybersecurity Scholarship, Yi earned free enrollment into three award-winning Flex Pro certification training courses:
- Network+ Flex Pro Boot Camp
- Security+ Flex Pro Boot Camp
- Specialization course (her choice of one additional online course)
She plans to take her first InfoSec Institute course this December.
Yi said she still has a lot to learn about the field, but she feels much more involved now than during her sophomore year.
“My first programming language ever was Java, which is certainly not the easiest language out there,” Yi said. “It involves a different way of thinking than writing an essay or doing research, which I was more used to as a humanities student. But the more you do it, the more you realize there’s a certain charm to it — and you realize you spend hours working without even thinking about anything else. It kind of captures you.”
The Need for Cybersecurity Career Awareness
The central goal of National Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week is spreading awareness about the plethora of available cybersecurity-related roles and career paths. The global workforce shortage has grown to nearly 3 million, and a large part of filling that gap revolves around educating and mentoring the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.
In 2016 Yi had the opportunity to meet with one of her mentors, the director of a human rights organization.
“He was deeply involved in the human rights field — the field I was interested in working,” Yi said. “He told me human rights practitioners are looking for people who are both skilled in international relations and computer programming.”
After that meeting, Yi realized her two interests could work together.
Yi’s Cybersecurity Career Path
Yi is excited to earn her three certifications, begin applying to companies and gain some hands-on cybersecurity experience.
“I’m hoping to get either a research job or a security consultant job in the cybersecurity sector, and then I can use that knowledge to enter the public sector,” Yi said. “I want to do policy-related work because I think there’s a huge gap between baseline and policy aspects of cybersecurity.”
Her ultimate goal is to combine her academic disciplines into a unique role.
“Cybersecurity is closely linked to human rights, such as rights to privacy, healthcare and freedom of expression,” Yi said. “I could picture myself as a cybersecurity expert who contributes to making cybersecurity policies that protect human rights.”