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NOVA Year Up Student Shifts Career Focus from FBI Profiling to Cybersecurity

Photo of Christian Galvan

Second-year NOVA student Christian Galvan said he hadn’t considered a career in cybersecurity. Having moved with his family from El Salvador to the U.S. when he was 8 years old, Galvan said he had dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. His aspirations eventually evolved to wanting to study psychology so he could be a profiler for the FBI.

“Going through NOVA, I chose IT because I’ve always liked technology. I didn’t choose NOVA’s cybersecurity program; it chose me. I was located at the Loudoun Campus and I was just an IT major taking regular classes,” Galvan said.

In April 2015, Galvan received an email from the Woodbridge Campus asking if he would be interested in a cybersecurity internship. He called to inquire and everything else fell into place.

Galvan, 21, is a part of the Year Up program through NOVA-Woodbridge. Year Up is an award-winning, national 501(c)3 organization that provides young adults ages 18-24 with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

Through the free, one-year training program, participants receive six months of intensive professional training, classes in IT and cybersecurity at NOVA for up to 30 credits, guidance and support from a professional staff coach and mentor and a stipend. The students also have the opportunity to complete a six-month corporate internship with a respected company.

Eighty-five percent of Year Up graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months of completing the program. Those employed earn an average starting salary of $32,000 per year.

“In Year Up, I don’t have a regular class experience. The program teaches us, not only tech skills, but soft skills as well. Year Up prepares us for a career in cybersecurity but it also teaches us about communication within this field and how to build trust and network,” Galvan said. “With all the tools we use in class and skills we’re taught, I feel like we are ahead of people our age going for similar positions.”

Galvan manages to balance an internship with Capital One, NOVA classes and a part-time job on the weekends. NOVA and the Year Up program have allowed him to gain experience in his field and have the college experience he was looking for before joining the program. When he completes the Year Up program and graduates from NOVA, Galvan wants to explore opportunities for a full-time position with Capital One or explore other career possibilities.

“I really want to maximize my time with Year Up and NOVA to network as much as I can during my internship. At my internship, they’re always talking to us about opportunities after we finish our six-month internships,” he said. “Worst case, if I don’t get a position with them, I’m still making connections with my managers and coworkers who can be references for other opportunities.”

Click here to learn more on NOVA’s Year Up program

By: Raytevia Evans

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.