Efrain Cintron, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, 2015
Jan 18, 2023, 3:00 PM.
An alumnus working for Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) helps secure the “Big Four” multinational accounting firm’s cybersecurity.
Efrain Cintron started out in a very different field than the one he ended up in. For years, he worked in real estate, but found his way to IT because he was the tech person everyone relied on. It was an area he was naturally good at, one that he learned from reading and watching videos and from trying things. The self-taught computer tech decided to take his passion to the next level and enrolled at FIU to pursue an official degree and learn industry standards.
In the following, Cintron shares his thoughts on what it was like to be an undergraduate student at FIU.
When did you graduate?
I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2015 and I did both on-campus and online classes. I had secured a job and transitioned my studies from on campus to the online program. The majority of my classes were on campus, but the online courses were a huge benefit.
The benefit of being in Miami was that I could go on-campus during office hours and learn more about the technical things I was learning if I had questions. There is a lot of hands-on learning and real-life application to what you are doing. Understanding it on a technical level—you do not get that from a lot of programs like you do from FIU. The virtual online hours or going on campus when you need to—that helped. The professors were always available to help walk you through lessons and help you find out where you were blocked.
Why did you decide to study this area and choose this program?
I was initially in the real estate market, but then it crashed. While working in the real estate office, we had Wi-Fi connected to our office. We received a quote for the office, and I felt I could do it better and more inexpensively, myself. I was given the opportunity to network the office and make sure everything was taken care of. I thought that was really interesting and I had a fascination with computers that steadily grew stronger. I realized that computers are a need and the only way for the future, so I started learning through videos and from different white papers before I decided to apply to FIU.
Where do you work now? What do you do?
I work for PwC. I am a cybersecurity engagement manager. Any application we create, before it goes out to be commercialized, PwC must go through a security process to ensure they are impenetrable. We perform reviews to make sure it is approved to be sold. I have been in this position for almost two years.
What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was the ethical hacking class. It was essentially a project-based class and provided tools and tips on how to set those resources up. Basically, the class illustrates how the different security systems work. I was able to build a fake Facebook page, and link to the classroom for the assignment. It was an exercise on how easily people can get hacked and how your identity can be stolen. I caught them. None of my classmates knew it was a fake link.
What immediately applicable skills did you learn?
I learned routing skills and how firewalls work. We set up routing and firewalls and also set up networks to direct traffic coming in and out of the network. I was easily able to use these skills and get certified. It was extremely beneficial coming out of college. FIU really sets you apart in the job market. You demonstrate you have a degree, and you can put in place what you have learned. This made my resume stand out.
How does your degree help you in your work?
It helps with everything that I do. It created and built my skills. I am involved with hiring now. These skills allowed me and a lot of my peers to get jobs right away. I cannot think of anyone who didn’t get a job two months outside of graduation. We learned best practices from experts who do this—the faculty were working out in the field and brought their skills into the classroom. We were learning Kaseya skills from people who worked for Kaseya. Those skills apply to other companies and are transferable.
What is one thing you learned you will never forget?
I learned something I didn’t realize would play into my career. All the teambuilding the professors were making us do is valuable. I didn’t know how much. Everywhere you go, you will rely on people to do parts of the job. Having the patience and collaboration to be able to address colleagues to pull their weight on projects—it made me stronger in the field.
Would you recommend this program to other students?
Absolutely, there’s real-life application to things and you’re going to set yourself apart. You earn the degree, skills, and points to make you stand out. It all translates to getting a better, decent job. Within two weeks outside of the program, I got a $25,000 raise. There are financial benefits; the ability to have more job security. So, there’s great ROI and you make more money.