Building a more diverse cybersecurity workforce

Creative team working together connect business puzzle piece.

Image credit: Adobe Stock/VectorSpace.

Through our Adobe for All mission, we are committed to creating a workplace and community that reflects the diversity of the world around us, where everyone feels included and respected, and has equal opportunity to make an impact. We also believe that great talent can come from anywhere, which is why we focus on community collaboration, strengthening inclusion and driving progress for underinvested communities. As part of this effort, we’ve recently expanded our strategic partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to develop unique solutions that expose students to careers in tech and prepare them with the creativity and digital skills they’ll need to pursue their career aspirations.

New ways to close the talent gap in cybersecurity

In the cybersecurity industry especially, we are facing a major skills and talent gap. According to a recent report from the world’s leading cybersecurity professional organization (ISC)², the field is still in critical need of experts. To help protect against increasingly complex modern threats, organizations are looking to fill a worldwide gap of 3.4 million cybersecurity workers. We worked with our broader teams to develop an internship program specializing in cybersecurity with Bowie State University, a designated HBCU, to help solve for this gap.

Adobe continues to invest in innovative cybersecurity capabilities across our products, and infrastructure to enhance protection for our customers and their data. To help the industry and our own needs for a diverse pipeline of talent, our cybersecurity team chose to partner with Bowie State University as they demonstrate excellence in cybersecurity education, research, and national leadership. The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated Bowie State University as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Education since 2009, with the Computer Science program a designated program since 2021.

Internship built for innovation

To build this program from the ground up, we worked directly with the Bowie State engineering department to design a unique internship experience to help students develop their cybersecurity skills, and experience Adobe Life. This internship combines skills development with knowledge sharing between Adobe’s cybersecurity team and Bowie State faculty to help develop a more complete, real-world curriculum.

Hybrid: virtual + in-person internship sessions

Our Cybersecurity Internship program has two phases, the first was a virtual component completed in March 2023. The next phase is our in-person summer session starting in a few weeks!

During the virtual session our interns engaged with the teams on introductory projects including engaging in threat hunting, providing security guidance for our product teams, and learning how to architect security controls that are scalable. This experience helped us two-fold, it enabled our cybersecurity teams to share perspectives and talents to find creative solutions. Our interns were paired with mentors who offered skill and career development advice. In addition, Adobe cybersecurity teams led a speaker series on a range of topics to drive deeper interest and engagement for the intern program and teams.

We’ve received great feedback from Adobe cybersecurity leaders so far, here are some highlights:

“Our intern brought a unique skillset that enabled us to action on some work that my team had been struggling to complete. Our intern’s creative thinking prompted key questions that helped our team to re-evaluate some processes that we could streamline and optimize.” – manager, Application Security

“My team’s work is fueled by creativity - bringing diverse views to the table empowers innovation. Our intern brought a fresh perspective and a new way of thinking that we were able to learn from and apply to our work.” – director, Offensive Security

“Participation in this program brought great value to my team. Not only did our intern bring fresh energy, but they also enabled my current team members to develop their own mentoring skills. Everyone wins!” – manager, Governance

Introducing interns to Adobe Life: In-person summer session

Now that the virtual program is complete, we are looking forward to the in-person session this summer. The summer program will build upon existing relationships and knowledge learned during the virtual program. Our interns will also be part of Adobe’s summer internship program cohort and have the chance to experience “Adobe Life.” These interns will get hands on with projects, have access to our industry-leading benefits including competitive pay and company-wide intern events to provide the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in Adobe’s culture.

Adobe’s internship program has always been at the heart of our culture of innovation. In addition to being able to work side by side with tech industry’s biggest thinkers and innovators, our internship provides students with exposure to a diversified set of products that power today’s digital economy across our three clouds — Creative Cloud, Document Cloud and Experience Cloud.

A key part of the summer program is a technical project that the interns get to showcase at our Intern Summit and Expo at the end of the summer. Interns will work with their managers and teams to design and develop these projects targeting current cybersecurity problems.

Dr. Rose Shumba, Chair & Professor at the department of Computer Science at Bowie State University, is excited about the partnership with Adobe and the opportunities it opens for her students and in closing the cybersecurity talent gap:

“The global demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to outpace supply. We cannot underestimate the importance of diversity in cybersecurity in closing the cyber workforce gap. Diversity brings creativity, different ways of thinking and different skills to the table, adding overall confidence in an organization’s security posture. There is still work to be done in the area.

I am so happy to see the Cybersecurity Internship program Adobe initiated with Bowie State University. There are numerous benefits spanning from excellent learning experiences through effective collaboration, networking, and teamwork with seasoned, talented, and accomplished professionals, to getting paid over the spring and the summer. What a great way to help foster, promote and nurture the success of under-represented minority students, as they prepare to enter the cyber workforce.”

I am looking forward to continued collaboration this summer and the potential this program has for Adobe and the broader cybersecurity industry.

Stay tuned for more updates on our interns’ summer projects and insights on the Security@Adobe tech blog.