When Nick Speakman-Viggiano ’24 walked into his first cybersecurity class at Immaculata, Professor Anthony Hanners introduced not just himself, but every student, sharing tidbits about each of them—their middle names, how many siblings they have and where their parents work.
A few months before, Hanners told Speakman-Viggiano that it was his goal to have a little information about each of his students before they started class. But they were still surprised that Hanners already knew so much about them from information publicly available online, some of which they had freely shared on social media.
“Go ahead, make all your accounts private; try and make it fun for me!” Hanners said. So Speakman-Viggiano deleted his Facebook account and made his Instagram private. “But he still found us!” Speakman-Viggiano said. “I’m sure by the time I’m a senior, I’ll know most of how he did it!”
With his longstanding interest in technology, Speakman-Viggiano chose to major in cybersecurity. He also knows the job outlook for cybersecurity professionals is promising. “As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, we need people to keep it secure,” he said.
For his Defense in Depth class, his final project was to create a security plan for a mock business, describing how he would implement systems to protect the company’s IT infrastructure, networks, routers and web servers. He is taking a digital forensics class this semester, his first class in Immaculata’s new applied technology lab, and he looks forward to practicing his skills on the lab’s stand-alone network.
M.E. Jones, Ph.D., professor of applied technology and math, discussed internship possibilities with Speakman-Viggiano and encouraged him to apply to companies in the financial industry as a good fit with his minor in accounting. Last summer, he interned with American Heritage Federal Credit Union and gained a range of experience in information systems. He resolved technical issues, helped build systems for users, configured network settings, set up all technology needed for board meetings, and tested and provided feedback on a new mobile app.
“I learned more about the assembly of systems as well as the process in which system settings are applied,” he said. “I learned the specifics of recycling certain pieces of technology and the steps we as a federal credit union were responsible for taking in order to prevent any data from being retrievable on recycled technology.”
Speakman-Viggiano also interacted with the cybersecurity team at the credit union and learned about that aspect of the banking industry. “My internship definitely helped me to realize that I could see myself working in cybersecurity at a financial institution,” he said.
His accounting instructor, Eileen Raffaele, spent years in the business world and has a contact at Vanguard, one of the companies to which Speakman-Viggiano is applying for a summer internship this year. He also attended a meet-and-greet with a group supervisor and special agent from Homeland Security Investigations whom Jones and Associate Professor William Wagner, Ph.D., brought in to network with students and talk about internship opportunities within the agency.
“All of my professors, I’ve found, they’re not here for a paycheck; they’re here to actually help students develop and learn,” Speakman-Viggiano said. “We have a ton of amazing professors who have connections all over the place, and they’re going to make sure that you’re in the best spot to graduate.”