The growth of U.S. Cyber Command over the last 12 years and the Cyber National Mission Force’s elevation to a sub-unified command last year has created a demand for more talent in both commands. Staffing with a unique group of highly-skilled military members, government employees, and contractors is how CYBERCOM wins with people. They also make room to invite the younger generation to experience what working with our organizations is like.
In 2018, the Air Force introduced the PCIP, a 10-12 week summer internship experience that infuses entry-level collegiate talent into Air Force and certain Joint military formations.
Because of current and projected growth, the Commander of CYBERCOM, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, charged the command it’s launched its inaugural PCIP in 2020 to grow its collegiate information technology and cyber talent.
“I started with USCYBERCOM in September of 2018 as a Palace Acquire, awaited clearance at the Welcome and Integration Center (WITC) then started in the J38 in July of 2019. My role in the J38 is to manage risk on, write policy for, and oversee all of USCYBERCOM’s offensive cyber operations,” Said Skylar Edwards, a Palace Acquire Alumni and Commander’s Fellow.
Edwards is currently completing his master’s degree in Military Operational Art and Science with a concentration in Joint Warfare.
“My time at Undergraduate Cyber Training through the PAQ program helped fill in the gaps by teaching more about networking that wasn’t covered during my time in undergrad. Beyond having that knowledge, the skills I use most are constantly being able to learn and adapt to whatever problems come up, as well as being able to understand how complex systems of both technology and policy affect operations,” he said.
But college internships are not the only opportunities CYBERCOM has to offer.
Every January, CYBERCOM accepts applications for a highly competitive, full-time Student Volunteer Program for eligible law students. The SVP consists of a full-time (up to 40 hours per week), in-person experience for one academic semester (14-16 weeks with the potential to extend up to one academic year) at the command.
Qualified applicants will be considered for assignments within CYBERCOM’s Office of the Staff Judge Advocate based on interest, skills, and qualifications. The office provides cutting-edge legal advice in new and rapidly evolving areas of law impacting military operations across the globe. The Student Volunteers experience various operational aspects international law, domestic law, and U.S. policy applicable to military cyber operations. Additionally, they support domestic and international partnership activities, congressional relations, and administrative law matters. The SVP offers a unique opportunity for in-depth research and writing on numerous emerging laws and policies. Our robust program includes unique professional development opportunities, leadership activities, specialized training, mentorship experiences and engagements.
CYBERCOM also has positions for high school seniors interested in seeing what working in cyberspace domain environment is like.
The High School Work Study Program is also a highly competitive program designed for high school students who plan to participate in a school-sponsored work experience program during their senior year. Students are hired on a temporary part-time appointment at a GG 1/1 from September-June of their senior year with the possibility of an extension through mid-August. These jobs can range from administrative support work to translation work if the students are fluent in critical languages areas.
The command also hosts interns from the five military service academies every summer to experience life in a combatant command before they officially commission.
“These programs bring in talent we wouldn’t otherwise have access to or get from universities and other DoD entities,” Said Air Force Lt. Col. Darby Bess, acting division chief for the Workforce Integration and Strategic Programs section with CYBERCOM.
This has already paid off for the command with five former interns from the inaugural program now working full time at CYBERCOM in the J3.
Since 2012, the command has hosted more than 105 interns from the U.S. military service academies. Beginning in 2020, more than 25 civilian summer college interns and recent graduates participated in other command internship programs. Additionally, high school juniors, seniors, and undergraduate students have participated in programs and projects via the command’s partnership with DreamPort.