Davenport University recently hosted its first Cybersecurity Summit as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which takes place every October. The summit, which was held on Davenport’s W.A. Lettinga Grand Rapids Campus, provided the perfect opportunity to highlight the exciting and growing field of cybersecurity.
Keynote speaker Sara Schmidt, senior vice president and chief information security officer for US Foods, spoke about her journey within the IT industry and shared stories and insights with attendees.
During her presentation, Schmidt emphasized that there is room for everyone at the cybersecurity table and that the path may not look the same for everyone. She spoke about her journey and the many avenues someone can take to launch their cybersecurity career. She also talked about where the industry is headed and shared advice on what students can do now to prepare for a career in cybersecurity.
Davenport’s Dean of the College of Business and College of Technology, Amy Mansfield, said Schmidt was the perfect choice for the keynote speaker because of her commitment to diversifying the cybersecurity space, and because she is a great representative of women in the tech field.
“Davenport wants to be at the forefront in making sure West Michigan has the talent needed to fill the demand for cybersecurity professionals, and this summit was a great step toward achieving that goal,” Mansfield said. ”I’ve met several students via LinkedIn who attended the summit, and while I hope they come to Davenport, it’s not necessarily all about recruiting students. It’s more about promoting the industry as a whole.”
Following Schmidt’s presentation, attendees had the chance to network with seasoned professionals and recent alumni. They also had an opportunity to meet with representatives from several professional organizations, like Cloud Security Alliance Group and Michigan Council of Women in Tech, to learn how to become more involved in the tech community.
Area employers were also on-site to connect with students and discuss their open cybersecurity positions.
For event organizers Katrina Siereveld, senior career coach at Davenport, and Cassidy VanDam, Davenport College of Business, Technology and Urban Education partner manager, the decision to hold a cybersecurity summit just made sense.
“We recognized that there is a massive talent gap within the cybersecurity space,” said Siereveld. “At Davenport, we are actively striving to turn this around by providing excellent graduates in the field. We also see West Michigan as an up-and-coming technology hub, and we wanted to bring individuals together from all backgrounds to celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month.”
For VanDam, a summit was the perfect way to bring those interested in cybersecurity together under one roof.
“The purpose of this event was to gather prospective and current students, recent graduates, experienced tech professionals, community members and employers together to show that the tech community is a supportive one and to foster connections,” said VanDam.
Those who want to join this exciting and critical workforce will find the education and training they need to succeed at Davenport.
To learn more about Davenport’s College of Technology programs, visit www.davenport.edu/academics/