At this year’s RSAC 2022 College Day Sponsor Panel, we snagged a student out of the crowd to find out why they chose to attend and what their goals and aspirations for the future were. Meet Taylor Rainey (they/them) who just finished up their first year in the Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS) program at the University of California, Berkeley.
What brought you to RSA Conference?
“In my program, I was able to apply and pitch an abstract in research on communicative and surveillance technology that focuses on incarcerated people and their family members, specifically privacy and digital rights. This is my first time attending a tech conference and I wanted to learn more from my peers and industry leaders on what it’s all about.”
What’s next after you finish up your master’s program?
“I am currently a Foreign Affairs IT Fellow with the U.S. State Department. Once I graduate, I will be going into the foreign service and will be placed in embassies as an Information Specialist. With the research I am doing, I would love to get into law and potentially go to law school with the ultimate goal of getting into tech policy long term.”
How did you get interested in cybersecurity?
“Studying political science and public policy in undergrad at Howard University spurred my interest in how the internet and cybersecurity was impacting racial and housing injustice and inequalities. This is a hard-hitting topic and question that most people don’t consider. Most people I have talked to in the cyber industry haven’t even thought about that and so I think it’s an area to explore further and something I am very interested in pursuing -- digital privacy rights and exploited communities.”
What would you like to see from a diversity standpoint in the industry moving forward?
“In every session I have been to, the topic of diversity has come up and that’s exciting. It’s encouraging hearing about how we need to diversify our hiring, training, and mentoring processes to get people who look like me and from forgotten communities to be in more of these spaces in tech. I am a roller-skater and skateboarder, it’s a big passion of mine. Usually, I am the only individual that looks like me, the only person of color going into those spaces. I am going to be my authentic self and am comfortable in my own skin, but it would be better to have the acceptance through training and education. I think the same is true in cybersecurity.”
How important is culture for you moving forward in your future roles in the cybersecurity industry?
“I’d say it might be the MOST important factor for me when deciding on a future role. I’ve not always put myself in a culture that’s the most safe, comfortable, healthy, and positive because I wanted to do the work. Now I’m doing something that I am really passionate about and have found a community in tech policy and incarcerated digital rights. I’ve gravitated towards that because they care about what I care about. In the future, if I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization or a big tech company, I would want to know they care about what I care about so it’s definitely a priority for me. The foreign service supports me being here and the research I am doing, and it makes me happy doing the work because I am supported.”