FAQs

Program
Why should I join the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative?

Entry-level cybersecurity talent can gain unparalleled work and professional experience through the cross-sector Cybersecurity Talent Initiative. Participants first serve in the federal government for two years, then will be invited to apply for select positions with some of the world’s most innovative private sector companies. If selected for private sector employment, participants will receive up to $75,000, inclusive of tax, in student loan assistance. Participants will engage with subject matter experts from the public and private sectors, build a network of colleagues across government, attend quarterly learning sessions and develop skills needed to excel as cybersecurity leaders.


How long does the program last?

The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative consists of two parts:

First, participants will complete a two-year placement with a partnering federal agency.

Prior to completing two years of government service, participants will be invited to apply for full-time positions with program sponsors. Employment terms are based on performance, business needs and other relevant factors. If you are offered a position, you will start after you complete your federal placement. The list of participating companies can be found here. Alternatively, you may be able to continue your government service at the agreement of the federal agency.


How do I receive student loan assistance?

Program participants who are hired by participating private sector companies upon completion of their two-year term of service in government, will receive student loan assistance for all qualifying loans up to $75,000, inclusive of tax.


Will loan assistance be provided all at once or will payments be made incrementally?

In the first year of private sector employment, employers will pay an amount equal to principal and interest monthly. After the first year of employment, employers will pay 1/3 of the total remaining principal, then repeat paying the principal and interest monthly throughout the second year of employment. The total remaining principal will be paid at the end of the second year of employment. Specific terms for required length of service with private sector companies may vary by company.


Which federal agencies are participating in the program?

Participating agencies include:

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Election Commission
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Naval Intelligence
  • Small Business Administration

*Each agency has entry-level cybersecurity positions. Participating agencies agencies are subject to change due to budget constraints or other factors.


Which private sector companies are participating in the program?

Participating companies include:

  • Mastercard
  • Microsoft
  • Workday

How are agency placements determined?

The Partnership will conduct an initial screen of applicants to ensure they meet program eligibility. Applications will be evaluated on several factors including technical qualifications and leadership qualities. Top applicants will move forward to agencies, where final selections are made. Agencies may conduct interviews or additional assessments. Agencies will extend job offers by that are contingent upon completion of degree requirements and successful completion of security clearance procedures.

What professional development training and mentorship will I receive during the two-year program?

You will participate in a kickoff orientation to introduce the professional development program, and you will participate in quarterly professional development and leadership training sessions so you can discover innovative best practices across industries. You will build a strong network of future cybersecurity leaders and engage with public and private sector cybersecurity experts. You also will be matched with a senior-level mentor from the government or the private sector.


Where will the professional development courses be held?

In most cases, professional development training sessions will be held in the Washington, D.C. area. There may also be opportunities for virtual training sessions. Where out-of-town travel is required, the Partnership will cover transportation and lodging costs.


Where are the federal jobs located?

Most positions are in the Washington, D.C. area. Some agencies may have positions available in locations such as California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Virginia and other states.


If I need to relocate, are housing or relocation expenses provided?

Housing or relocation benefits may vary based on the employer.


Does the two-year federal placement include pay and benefits?

Yes. The annual salary will be commensurate with the participant’s qualifications and experience. Salary and benefits are covered by the employing federal agency. Starting salaries for designated program positions may vary depending on the level of education, professional experience and the location of the employing agency. In the Washington, DC locality area, starting salaries may range from $47,016 to $90,461. For more information on the federal pay system, visit the Office of Personnel Management’s website.


What happens after I complete my two-year federal placement?

Prior to completion of your two-year federal placement, you will be invited to apply for positions with the participating private sector organizations or you may be able to continue your government service at the agreement of the federal agency. The list of participating companies can be found here.


How will participants learn about private sector job opportunities?

Throughout the program, participants will connect with representatives from the corporate partners who can inform them of future employment opportunities. During the spring of participants second year in government, there will be a formal session to learn about specific job openings with the corporate partners.


If I apply for a job with one of the corporate partners, am I guaranteed to receive it?

No. However, each company will designate certain positions specifically for program participants.


Can I apply to multiple private sector companies?

Yes.


If I continue in government after my initial two-year placement and do not proceed to the private sector part of the program, am I still eligible for student loan assistance through the program?

To receive student loan assistance, you must complete your two-year federal placement and then be hired by one of the private sector companies. Those who continue their government service beyond two years will not be eligible for student loan assistance through this program.

Eligibility
Who is eligible to apply?

Eligibility requirements:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Current enrollment at an accredited educational institution in an undergraduate or graduate cybersecurity-related degree program with an expected graduation date of Spring 2020
  • Superior academic achievement
  • Completion of cyber- related major degree (for example, computer science, engineering, information science and mathematics) prior to federal agency start date
  • Outstanding student loans

I have not received citizenship, but I am currently in the process of receiving it. Am I eligible?

You must be a U.S. citizen at the time you submit your application.

Do I need an outstanding student loan to participate in the program? What types of loan qualify?

Yes, you must have some level of outstanding student loan debt upon graduation to participate in the program. There is no minimum student loan debt required. Types of loans may include federal or state student loans, private student loans and personal student loans.


Will I need a security clearance? How is it obtained?

Background investigation and security clearance requirements may vary by agency and position. Agencies will support selected candidates throughout the investigation process. For more guidance, see information from the National Background Investigations Bureau.

Application
What application materials must I provide?

In addition to your personal information, you must also submit unofficial copies of all undergraduate or graduate level transcripts; a current resume; the names of two references who can attest to your leadership and technical capabilities; an endorsement form (which can also be found in the application) completed by an academic or professional contact such as a faculty member or supervisor familiar with your technical qualifications in cybersecurity (the individual who completes your endorsement form can also serve as a reference); responses to a series of short essay questions; and documentation of veterans status, if applicable.


How are application materials evaluated?

While strong academic performance will be considered, participants will be evaluated on a number of factors, including leadership qualities and technical qualifications. Agencies may consider additional factors when making final selections.


When is the application deadline?

All applications must be submitted by October 18, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Click here to apply.


Is there an application fee?

No.


While completing my application online, may I close out and return to it?

Yes, the online application can be saved and returned to later. If you submit more than one application before the closing date, we will only review the most recent submission. If you would like to view the application content, click here.


What happens if I don’t fully answer a question in the application?

Not fully answering a question in the application will affect your application score. You should answer all questions honestly, completely and to the best of your ability.

How and when will I know if I’m accepted? When does the program start?

Agencies will extend job offers by spring 2020 that are conditional upon completion of degree requirements and successful completion of security clearance procedures. You also will receive an email from the Partnership for Public Service notifying you of your acceptance. While start dates may vary by agency, most participants should expect to start in either the summer or fall of 2020.


How can I check the status of my application?

You will receive email updates throughout the application process. You may also email info@cybertalentinitiative.org for inquiries.


Will I be expected to participate in an interview? How long does the entire interviewing process take and is travel required?

Some agencies may invite you to participate in an in-person, virtual or phone interview prior to selection.


Does my veteran’s status provide preference? If so, how should I highlight my status on the application?

According to federal regulations, agencies must apply veterans’ preference as part of the application process. Applicants with veterans’ preference should submit a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD 214) with application materials. For additional information on veterans’ preference, visit Feds Hire Vets.


How will references be used?

Agencies may decide to contact one or both references during their assessment and review process. The Partnership will not contact references as part of the initial review.


How should the endorsement form be submitted?

Endorsers will email completed PDF endorsement forms directly to info@cybertalentinitiative.org. Email subject lines should include the applicant’s full name. A confirmation email will be sent to the applicant to let them know an endorsement form has been submitted.

Corporate Partners
How will the corporate partners assist with candidate recruitment?

The Partnership will engage in a robust recruitment strategy, including virtual and on-campus initiatives. Corporate partners may request specific schools for the Partnership to target in its recruitment efforts, and they are encouraged to use their own marketing channels and existing recruiting activities to attract applicants to this cyber initiative.


What role do the corporate partners play during the two-year leadership development program?

Corporate partners may help lead seminars, host networking events and serve as keynote speakers or panelists during quarterly development sessions.

Additionally, corporate partners may identify cybersecurity experts in their organizations to serve as mentors to participants throughout their term in government. This will serve as an opportunity for participants to learn about each company while corporate partners informally meet prospective employees.

How are mentors selected and paired with participants? What is the program structure for the mentors?

Each sponsor is encouraged to identify a minimum of three individuals who can serve as mentors to participants. The Partnership will also select mentors from its network of current and former senior government leaders. The Partnership will ask mentors and mentees to complete a survey to gauge mutual interests and areas of desired growth/expertise. This information will be used to pair mentors and participants. There will be formal opportunities for mentors and mentees to connect, but they will also be encouraged to meet on their own time, both in person and virtually.

Additional Questions
What is the Partnership’s role in this program?

The Partnership, in coordination with agency and corporate partners, will manage the program and:

  • Recruit top cybersecurity talent by tapping into its strategic relationships with colleges and universities
  • Manage and oversee the application process and ensure applicants meet program requirements
  • Provide comprehensive professional and leadership development opportunities, and convene program participants for training, mentoring and relationship building throughout their federal government experience

How is the program funded?

The program administration is funded by corporate partners, including Mastercard, Microsoft and Workday. Salaries and benefits are provided by federal agencies.

How can federal agencies participate in this program?

Federal agencies interested in participating in this program can find additional guidance on our agency page.