Ford’s mission to build a better world where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams. Supporting HBCUs and driving towards not only attracting but retaining talent from these institutions are a part of their efforts to contribute towards strengthening communities.
We had the chance to speak with the Cyber Defense Analyst at Ford and Hampton University graduate, Telisha Everett, sharing her experience at an HBCU and how it has impacted her in the long run.
Q: Why an HBCU, and specifically Hampton, vs other institutions?
Telisha: Growing up watching BET College tours, I thought “oh, you could go away from home to go to college”. I knew I wanted to do something like that. I went to go visit Hampton and it seemed like home and welcomed me. That’s how my high school was as well so I was looking for that aspect when I went off to college.
The classes were smaller, so I figured the professors are going to know my name which I really wanted. I didn’t want to be in a class with 200-something different people. Also, Hampton has a very good reputation, a lot of people were proud to come out of Hampton.
Q: So, do you recommend HBCUs for upcoming students and why?
Telisha: Yes, I definitely do. I encourage everyone to go to an HBCU, it was some of the best years of my life. I’ve even met people after I graduated that stated they wished they went to a HBCU. There are different opportunities that are afforded to you, the people that you will meet in your life – you just truly meet your family there.
Q: So, how did your career lead you to working at Ford?
Telisha: In the Computer Science department at Hampton University, throughout the school year, we have something called info sessions where companies will come in and recruit for interns and full-time hires. I applied and went through the process, I interned with Ford summer 2018 and I graduated in December of 2018.
By the time my internship ended, I had a full-time offer. It was such a great cultural experience as well. At Ford, they really invest in your career and placing you where you fit best. If you want to try anything new, like switching within your department, it’s encouraged, and you don’t have to stay stagnate in one position.
Q: So, what advice would you give to women in the cybersecurity space, especially women of color, who are working to excel and break the mold themselves?
Telisha: We are in the space. Me personally, I love being the only person in the room to show people that I’m here. I like proving people wrong. I like showing people how smart I am and it’s just another barrier that has to be broken. Especially being a double minority. Someone may be looking up to you. So, I would say keep going and looking towards the big picture.