“Innovate Constantly” is one of our core values at A-LIGN, challenging every team member to keep climbing in their career by making an impact on their team, our organization and our industry. A penetration testing intern at A-LIGN has exceeded this value by co-founding Root@UT, a student organization designed to create the next leaders in the cybersecurity industry.
Root@UT is an A-LIGN sponsored student organization at the University of Tampa, started by Savannah Lazzara, Penetration Testing Intern at A-LIGN, and Chase Krivda, DevOps Engineer Intern at ReliaQuest this summer. The student organization introduces students to cybersecurity and penetration testing through technical training and presentations from industry professionals. Students can then use their newly gained knowledge in local cyber competitions and their careers.
“Chase Krivda and I decided to create Root@UT after seeing the gap in technical training being taught in the classroom versus what is needed to succeed in the industry,” Savannah shared. The university offered a cybersecurity student organization, but both Savannah and Chase believed more could be done to gain the respect from industry professionals hiring graduates.
Students in Root@UT regularly participate in local capture-the-flag (CTF) competitions, allowing them to use their penetration testing and forensic skills to capture and defend computer systems through web, SQL and password security. The club recently participated in the capture-the-flag challenge at Raymond James headquarters and placed second in the CTF challenge at the Florida Cyber Conference in partnership with the University of Tampa and The Undercroft.
“Our greatest accomplishment has been the feedback from students,” said Savannah. “We’ve been praised for our work with Root@UT and students; it never ceases to bring a smile to my face.”
Industry leaders frequently present to aspiring students at Root@UT meetings about career opportunities, industry standards, and lead hands-on challenges that allow them to test their skills. A-LIGN’s Senior Vice President of Cybersecurity and Privacy Services, Petar Besalev, recently shared his journey to cybersecurity and what skills have helped him in his career.
Savannah says education plays a major role in the cybersecurity industry. “We bring in technical speakers who can guide students through hands-on activities that simulate real-world tasks. We also invite industry professionals with a vast knowledge of cybersecurity who can answer any questions students may have to guide towards the right career path.”