When Benjamin Cyr originally applied to Syracuse, he planned on attending as a dual major with the Whitman School of Management and the iSchool. Cyr had always been interested in technology and even participated in a robotics club in high school. Still, he didn’t enjoy the hyper-technical aspects such as coding and felt Whitman would be a better fit.
After taking classes in both schools, Cyr felt much more drawn to the iSchool. He liked learning about data analytics and data science and felt confident in focusing his education at the iSchool to earn a bachelor’s in Information Management and Technology.
Now that Cyr saw the iSchool offered more than coding, he started to explore the school’s clubs and organization. Cyr decided to join the NEXIS Technology Lab, a student-run organization exploring emerging technology through collaborative research projects. He felt NEXIS would be a fun extracurricular to help expand his technical knowledge in a team-based environment.
In his second semester with Nexis, Cyr started working with the Vice President on a project called Team Smart Lab. The project looked at ways to integrate IoT devices into the lab. The Vice President mentored Cyr on effectively leading a team, which eventually led Cyr to a team lead role on the project. Then, when the Vice President graduated, Cyr took the position until his final semester when NEXIS promoted him to President.
Climbing the ranks within NEXIS required dedication, time, and hard work from Cyr. “With NEXIS, people notice how much work you’re putting into things,” says Cyr. “They try to get people into these leadership roles who are interested in NEXIS and passionate.”
In addition to classes and his work at NEXIS, Cyr still found time to take on a few internships. Although Cyr concentrated on data analytics at the iSchool, his internships and work experience focused more on cybersecurity. His first internship was with the US Government Accountability Office as an IT Analyst Intern. Through this role, Cyr performed in-depth analyses of different government programs. Specifically, Cyr audited a new electronic health record system. He analyzed risks in cybersecurity, budget, and general management of the project.
“It was definitely more of an investigative role and a good first internship,” says Cyr. “It was good for me as an introduction into the real world of auditing and seeing how it all works.”
His second internship was with IBM as a Cybersecurity intern working out of the Armonk, New York office. His primary project in this hands-on position was creating an internal application to clarify questions around cybersecurity policies, standards, and guidelines.
“One of the challenges at IBM is they have all these policies, and people need answers on how to implement them across IBM, so they tend to end up emailing people in the department to answer questions,” explains Cyr. “So we worked with some of IBM’s cloud applications and machine learning to create an application that would search through documents and return answers. The end goal was to answer some of those questions that people had through training a model and pushing all these documents into one place.”
Once Cyr completed his internship with IBM, the company offered him a full-time position to start in July 2021. The new role differs from his internship work and focuses more on application security, such as looking at internal applications and ensuring they are meeting cybersecurity policies and standards.
“Cybersecurity is not necessarily what I studied in school, but it’s where my professional experience led me,” says Cyr. “I think it shows the ability of the iSchool to prepare you for whatever. If I wanted to go to data science, I could do that. But also, I can go into cybersecurity or any other option, which is great. The iSchool does a great job of preparing people for the real world.”
Specifically, Cyr credits his iSchool experience for his comfortability in public speaking. Going into a technology role after college, one may not expect public speaking skills. However, as Cyr points out, many positions require presentations. Sometimes it’s internally to other departments within the company, and other times it’s external presentations to stakeholders, investors, or the general public. And thankfully, the iSchool prepares students for those scenarios with their focus on communication within the technology industry.
“I can say specifically with my IBM internship, we had to present to the CISO every other week,” says Cyr. “It’s a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, but having had exposure to that type of stuff in the iSchool makes it easier. You know how you’re supposed to act and what you’re supposed to do.”
Overall, even though attending the iSchool wasn’t Cyr’s initial plan when applying for Syracuse, he says he’s glad he decided to study technology and is happy with where his experience has led him.
“I had a great experience, honestly,” says Cyr. “I don’t have any regrets looking back. The experiences I’ve had at the iSchool, I can’t get anywhere else. It’s been great.”