Q&A with RSAC 2017 Security Scholar Rachael Skillman

Posted on by RSAC Editorial Team

Did you know that we had more than 620 students on-site at RSA Conference 2017 in San Francisco? 60 of those students were hand-selected to participate in the RSAC Security Scholar program. RSA Conference Security Scholar connects the brightest up-and-coming cybersecurity students to leading experts, peers, and conference attendees. Its goal is to share knowledge, experience, and connections to enrich the discourse on how to stay ahead of cyberthreats. 

Rachael Skillman

Following RSAC 2017, we caught up with one of our Security Scholars, Rachael Skillman. Rachael is a recent graduate from Virginia Tech, with a major in computer engineering and minor in mathematics. During the past three years, she has interned as a part of General Dynamics Mission System, working on a range of topics from network diagnostics to mobile application development. Read on for the Q&A about her experience as an RSAC Security Scholar: 

1.      What was your most valuable experience you had during your time at RSA Conference?

My most valuable experience at RSAC was meeting and interacting with experts in the field. I also had an awesome experience speaking alongside the incredible Bobbie Stempfley at RSAC women’s seminar, Security Diversity. It was rewarding to speak next to such an inspiring woman in security who has always been my role model – but I might be a little biased since I just call her “Mom.” 

2.      Who are some of the fascinating people that you have now added to your personal network?

I was able to talk to Adi Shamir about the development of the RSA algorithm and the way that changed the world, and then talk to the Lockheed Martin CISO about the day-to-day challenges he has managing an enterprise network. I also spoke to students who are learning how to apply their skills in this space every day. As we all grow our careers, having a good network is vital. Now it is on me to continue to cultivate these relationships. 

3.      What takeaways do you learn from the conference that you can apply to a future job or class?

I found RSAC very useful in helping me identify technologies that I didn’t know about and gave me a lot of cool resources to go and learn even more. 

4.      What would you recommend for a RSAC Security Scholar who is coming in 2018?

First, look ahead before attending the Conference and reserve a seat for a few sessions you are really interested in. I really recommend reserving a seat for one Learning Lab that sounds like fun because the Labs are very hands-on and tons of fun, but have limited space and fill up fast. Plus a few Labs had VM’s and other software the speaker sent out to pre-download so they are even more hands-on for those who did reserve a seat. 

Second, the Conference is a great place to network, meet people, and find a job if you are looking. I recommend bringing a few copies of your resume. Only a few people will actually take it. Everyone else will ask you to send a digital copy. I HIGHLY recommend making yourself a simple business card before attending the conference. I went to Staples and got a box of 100 cards printed for $10. Include your name, email, phone, major, graduation date, and school. Everyone at the Conference was trading business cards like candy, and I found I heard back from everyone who I gave a card to. Others I talked to who wrote down my email didn’t end up getting back to me. And always ask someone you meet for their business card, write a small note about something you two talked about on the back. It will save your life when you return home from the Conference. That way you remember who to send “Thank You” emails to. 

5.      What is one tip you would tell students interested in a career in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a huge field with tons of different technologies and problems to solve and it is constantly changing. Never be afraid to admit you don’t know something, never stop learning, and never stop having fun. 

Do you know a student studying the cybersecurity field? Tell them about RSAC Security Scholar program! We’d love to have them join us at RSAC 2018. 

RSAC Editorial Team

Editorial, RSA Conference

professional development & workforce

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