Meet Optus Cybersecurity Scholar Alec

Bachelor of Cybersecurity student Alec Watt has big plans for a global career. He’s combining his cybersecurity studies with a Diploma of Languages (Chinese) to pave the way for a future working in Asia.

A recipient of an Optus Undergraduate Cybersecurity Scholarship, Alec receives financial support so there’s more time to focus on his studies, as well as access to opportunities within the industry.

“I chose to apply for this scholarship because, not only does it provide incredibly helpful financial support, but also I thought I could meet and keep in contact with some really interesting people,” Alec said, adding he’s already managed to achieve this goal. “Another reason I applied is that I thought that this scholarship could help me find some interesting and unique opportunities in the future.

“This scholarship means a lot to me because it shows that companies such as Optus are willing to support students who are looking to become future cybersecurity professionals. The fact that they are willing to assist us as much as they are is very encouraging for me and keeps my strongly motivated to do well.

This scholarship means a lot to me because it shows that companies such as Optus are willing to support students who are looking to become future cybersecurity professionals.”

Alec Watt, La Trobe Optus Cybersecurity Scholar

Alec’s pathway to cybersecurity

“My journey to University started at another university last year where I was doing a completely different degree,” he said. “However, during that year I found that I didn’t really like what I was doing. It wasn’t the right fit. During this time was when I decided I really wanted to pursue my interests in technology and cybersecurity. As a result, I transferred to La Trobe at the end of last year and I haven’t looked back since!”

Alec’s interest in cybersecurity stems from a general interest in technology and IT.

“I chose to study at La Trobe also due to its strong connections to industry and their high standard of facilities and teaching,” said Alec. “Another major factor which made me choose La Trobe is the flexibility they have with their degrees. In my case I can do a Diploma of Languages concurrently with my main bachelor degree. Having this flexibility to study two of my favourite subjects at the same time made La Trobe the best choice for me.”

A future career mixing a passion for Chinese language (Mandarin) with cybersecurity

Alec aspires to one day work overseas in countries such as China, Taiwan, Singapore or Malaysia.

“I spent a large portion of my early childhood years overseas, my family moved to Indonesia when I was only a few months old,” Alec said. “We lived there for about six years before we had to move to Russia, and we lived in the capital city Moscow for about three years. Living in different countries and learn learning different languages during the early years of my life is the main reason why I also have a strong interest in learning other languages.”

Hoping to capitalise on his Mandarin Chinese language skills, Alec plans to investigate areas of cybersecurity such as penetration testing, security consultancy (commercial or government) and defence/intelligence.

He’s not waiting until he finishes his degree to start building his experience in Asia, either. Alec plans to undertake a semester exchange in Taiwan.

If there was one major cybersecurity issue Alec could solve, it would be…

“… assisting people in improving their understanding in how their data can be exposed, and how easily it can happen,” Alec said. “I believe that despite there being a wealth of information available about how to stay safe online, there still is an alarming amount of people who do not fully know or understand how to maximise their security online beyond changing basic settings. Understanding how to be safer online and how these attacks could occur can significantly reduce the chances of personal data being stolen.”

The best subjects are…

“…. I would say it’s close between Introduction to Cyber security and Chinese,” said Alec, not playing favourites.

“I really enjoyed this cybersecurity subject because it covered a lot of interesting topics over the semester. The practical labs we had for this subject were also interactive and engaging and the facilities are of a very high standard. I’ve also met lots of new mates in classes who share similar interests with me.

“Chinese is another contender for my favourite subject this semester, because language learning has been a part of my life since I was a little kid, and I have always really enjoyed it. My Chinese subject added a refreshing change throughout the semester as I could take a break from the computer labs every now and then to study something from a different faculty.”

Life at Bundoora Campus

“The vibe on campus is warm and welcoming,” Alec said, mentioning the his love of the natural scenery. “More importantly, the people I have met in my classes have all been super friendly, which has given me such a positive perspective of University life.

“I’ve signed up to start training with the Taekwondo Club on campus next semester and have also put my name down for the Capture the Flag Hacking Competition which I am excited to get into!”

Apply for a La Trobe Cybersecurity scholarship

Be quick to apply for these Optus Postgraduate Cybersecurity Scholarships and Optus Undergraduate Cybersecurity Scholarships. Applications for both close July 28, 2019.

The Women in Cybersecurity Scholarship has three places on offer for study at Bundoora Campus. Applications close January 29, 2020.