Internship Benefits Cybersecurity Students, Local Businesses

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense designation ceremony for PCC took place at the 2022 National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Conference and Expo. The designation was presented to PCC by representatives of the National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Joseph Jeansonne (center) and Shelley Allen (second from left) represented PCC at the event.

WINTERVILLE—A new internship is giving Pitt Community College cybersecurity students hands-on experience with helping local businesses secure financial and intellectual property assets from cyberthreats.

According to Joseph Jeansonne, instructional coordinator of PCC’s IT: Cybersecurity program, the new CyberStart-sponsored initiative places interns in small- and medium-sized businesses to “cultivate cybersecurity compliance practices and conduct cybersecurity assessments.” The interns do not cost the local businesses anything, he said, because their services are provided through a $2 million-grant the North Carolina Partnership for Cybersecurity Excellence (NC-PaCE) received from the National Security Agency’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity in October 2021.

“By working with area businesses, our CyberStart program strengthens workforce development and student and community partnerships,” Jeansonne said.

In order to participate in CyberStart, students must complete Pitt’s “Security Compliance” course, which covers International Organization for Standardization guidelines, National Institute of Standards and Technology frameworks, incident response and business continuity planning.

“The course introduces information security compliance and standards, along with how they apply to corporate IT environments,” Jeansonne said.

Formed in 2019, NC-PaCE is a coalition that involves PCC and seven other colleges and universities in North Carolina providing public agencies and private-sector businesses a diverse and specialized set of security education, research and services. The coalition’s goal is to establish a skilled cybersecurity workforce ready to address challenges that impede the state’s economic growth and entrepreneurial prosperity.

“The need for cybersecurity-trained professionals is real in North Carolina,” says Laurie Williams, a professor in N.C. State’s University’s Department of Computer Science and NC-PaCE co-director. “NC-PaCE will propel the development of cybersecurity expertise necessary to support (North Carolina) industry and government and to establish cybersecurity as an economic development tool for the state.”

Area business owners interested in participating in the CyberStart program can contact Jeansonne at (252) 493-7275 or jljeansonne775@my.pittcc.edu for more details.