Frank Salah came into the MPS Cybersecurity program with a goal of leveraging connections and acquiring the skills necessary to advance in his career. He shared his success story with meeting that goal.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.
Why did you choose to study Cybersecurity? And why UMBC?
I graduated UMBC with a B.S. in Information Systems and a B.A. in Political Science. I had a great experience leveraging connections at that stage of my life. Then I went out into the real world, got a job, then decided it was time to go for a master’s degree. I was looking at programs, and cybersecurity landed on my radar. I saw that UMBC had one of the best programs. So I decided to come here. Why? Because I had a good experience here as an undergrad, I knew the campus, and I was confident I’d have another good experience.
I chose UMBC partially because I’ve had experience here. Attending graduate school here would help continue that same level of success I’d already experienced. Also, I’d taken some grad classes elsewhere before coming here. It was all online. I didn’t really like the online experience because it was a lot of reading and very little interaction or education from the professor themselves. Here at UMBC, I’ve been engaging with the professors. They’re sharing their experience. I can ask questions and they answer candidly with real-world examples.
Can you share what you hope to achieve in your career?
I’m really looking forward to a career in cybersecurity. It’s really going give me the opportunity to have my voice heard and to make sure our systems are secure – whether at a federal level or private level. Cybersecurity is a big issue these days, especially recently in Baltimore with the ransomware issues. The field of cybersecurity is critical in helping to make our country secure, companies secure, and overall data secure. The demand is high, and if a person has the proper credentials and is leveraging connections, they can really take their career to new levels.
What about Cyber called out to you?
Information Systems was an option I had considered. But, I already earned my undergrad in that. So, I didn’t want to have a masters in it too. I felt that would limit my growth and area of expertise. I wanted to explore cybersecurity. After all, cybersecurity is a popular buzzword that is not going away anytime soon. Right here in this area, we have so many federal opportunities. Many organizations are looking for cybersecurity professionals. So I went that route.
Can you tell us about peer engagement within the program?
In my classes there’s been quite a bit of peer engagement. The instructors encouraged us to interact and instilled in us how important it was to be leveraging connections. They aided this by putting us into groups and having us work together. We brainstormed ideas, discussed trends, and worked on readings and presentations together. I picked up several key connections along the way by taking a handful of classes with them on purpose or sometimes by accident. We’ve continued our relationship even outside of the classroom.
What is one of the greatest takeaways so far?
One of the things I’ve really been able to take away is just how much the field is constantly changing and how much you need to be educating and reallocating yourself. My experience with the program, and with the connections I’ve made so far, is I’ve learned that it’s crucial to continually search for ways to improve, whether it’s taking other courses, keeping up with the news, or digging deeply into what is happening in the real-world. My professors have provided different resources to help us bridge that space between knowing and not knowing by recommending magazines, articles, and networking opportunities to help keep us up-to-date.
What excites you the most about a future in Cybersecurity?
The thing I like about cybersecurity is that’s new it’s exciting and it’s just constantly changing. You never know what to expect. Being a student the program has been worthwhile I’ve really had the opportunity to learn a lot engage with my professors and create those connections that I hope to leverage after I graduate.
Claim your future by leveraging connections with like-minded professionals who want to enhance their cybersecurity careers. Find out how UMBC Cybersecurity Graduate Programs can help you grow your future.