John Zenick ’21
MS Management Information Systems
Describe your career and what led you to your current position. I have been interested in technology for as long as I can remember. When I came to Texas A&M University, I found the Cyber Security Club my second year and never looked back. Starting with the competition team in Capture the Flag competitions and traveling to National Research Laboratories to compete against students from other universities only furthered my passion for security. I maintain a home lab and my own personal infrastructure that led me to consulting. I enjoy helping clients solve the most complex challenges in the industry which led me to Mandiant and Incident Response.
What were your job responsibilities in your internship? How did the MS-MIS program prepare you for this position? I was tasked with helping parse through large amounts of compromised cloud data to determine if any protected information had been stolen. The MS-MIS program provided me with the work ethic, team work, and foundational knowledge necessary to add value to the project.
What was your favorite course at A&M? ISTM 631 – Information Systems Design & Development was my favorite course. It combined all the skills we learned earlier in the program to implement a full-on eCommerce solution. In the past, we had created dynamic web pages to run on local machines and configured local databases. Setting up and integrating many technologies together in the capstone really added extra value to all the courses leading up to it.
What was the most beneficial course you took at A&M? MGMT 466 – Strategic Management was the most beneficial undergraduate course I took. This course combined all the CBKs from my undergraduate program and was an excellent opportunity to improve my public speaking. The semester-long analysis of a company followed by the rigorous presentation and Q/A really prepared me for entering the workforce. It also forced me to speak non-technically about technical matters which has become an invaluable tool in the workplace.
CSCE 702 – Law and Policy in Cybersecurity was the most beneficial graduate course I took. This course allowed me to really understand the legal environment surrounding my field. The professor is very passionate and for my industry; this is one of the most beneficial courses that can be taken at the university.
Why did you pursue a master’s degree? I wanted to differentiate myself in the market as well as spend more time giving back to the University. Mays Business School is one of the top business schools in the nation and the opportunity to go through the 4+1 program was too good to pass up.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree? Do it! The education, leadership qualities, and connections I have gained through the master’s program will remain with me for the rest of my life. The opportunity to deploy a full eCommerce solution, front and back end, with your peers is true preparation for implementations in the workforce. Even if you do not end up in a technical position, the leadership and management skills earned in the program go a very long way.
What is the biggest reward for earning your MS-MIS degree? The greatest reward from the program was the opportunity to give back to University and its students through the Cybersecurity Club, the everlasting professional network, and lifelong friends I made along the way. Being able to ignite someone else’s passion in a topic that I love myself made all the time at the University worth it. The skills and knowledge that I gained in the MS-MIS program allowed me to make an impact at the University that I am extremely grateful for and I cannot thank the INFO department and everyone that works to make the program so amazing enough.