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A man works with two students

ReliaQuest incident response manager Patrick Walton mentors students.
Photos courtesy of ReliaQuest

USF’s partnership with ReliaQuest helps fill crucial cybersecurity jobs

By Donna Smith, University Communications and Marketing

Tyler stands between paul rispoli on right and another man on left. Tyler is holding his graduation plaque

Tyler Carrichner (center) with ReliaQuest incident response managers Patrick Walton (left) and Paul Rispoli (right) 

Tyler Carrichner just completed the ReliaQuest Labs program at USF, and the global cybersecurity firm already offered him the opportunity to join them full-time. Set to finish his graduate program at USF in information assurance and cyber security management in August, Carrichner said he's well-prepared for his new role.

“Often, you can have an internship where you're doing lower-level work,” Carrichner said. “But this felt like I was already a security analyst at ReliaQuest – like I was already doing the job.”

More than 300 USF students have graduated from the ReliaQuest Labs program since its inception, with 44 graduating in the latest cohort. The program is based in the Muma College of Business and is open to all majors across the university. It launched in 2018 to address the explosive need for talent in the cybersecurity field and has proven to be a solid pathway to a career in cybersecurity. ReliaQuest, founded and headquartered in Tampa, has hired about half of the students who have completed the program and boasts a nearly 90% employment rate among its graduates. Many are offered jobs directly into ReliaQuest, while others find cybersecurity jobs at other large organizations.

  • A ReliaQuest student speaks at graduation.

  • Students fill the ReliaQuest Cyber Lab.

  • Plaques commemorating graduation from the program 

A cybersecurity workforce report from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium reported 3.4 million unfilled positions in the cybersecurity field. The U.S. Department of Labor projects the demand for information security analysts is expected to grow by 32% over the next decade – much faster than the average for all jobs. 

ReliaQuest founder and CEO Brian Murphy says that it's all about connecting talent with opportunities. 

“While we often hear about the shortage of trained and skilled cybersecurity professionals, there is no shortage of people who would like to join the cybersecurity industry if given the chance. Connecting the immense amount of talent with opportunities to build their knowledge and skills is the real issue, and it’s what programs like this are all about.”

During the four-week course offered each year, the program builds on what students have learned in USF classrooms. Interns are given online module-based assignments and then meet at ReliaQuest each week. During that time, students are assessed on the week’s topics and take a deeper dive through lecture and simulation activities to put what they’ve learned into practice.

Eduarda Koop, smiling in a white button down shirt

Eduarda Koop

Cybersecurity major Eduarda Koop just graduated from the program and says that as the only sophomore among a room full of juniors and seniors who had more classes and experience under their belts, she felt extremely challenged at times. But her mentor reminded her that it was all about mindset and effort.

“I had an amazing mentor who made sure I knew I could count on her,” Koop said. “I could reach out to her any time, and she even offered me extra help because she knew I was a sophomore. All the mentors were always checking on us and making sure we understood everything, so I really felt that support.”

ReliaQuest incident response manager Paul Rispoli, a 2019 USF and ReliaQuest Labs grad who now mentors other ReliaQuest Labs students, says the program launched his career at ReliaQuest, where he entered the field as a cybersecurity analyst. Rispoli now oversees a large portion of their customer base and manages teams in Tampa, Las Vegas, Dublin, Ireland and Pune, India.

Paul Rispoli teaches in the cyber labs

Paul Rispoli

“I'm passionate about ReliaQuest Labs, because the program gave me my chance to prove myself,” Rispoli said. “I was not a perfect student, but it's not a gatekeeping program – it’s more about finding the right people to have the right mindset who want to put in the work.”

Learn more about the ReliaQuest Labs program.

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