Participation in the Australian Defence Force Cyber Gap Program (ADFCGP) doesn’t have to stop when your program ends, with two former participants now using their experience to mentor participants in the 2022 intake.

Army soldiers Corporal Donovan Leitch, from 142nd Signal Squadron, and Lance Corporal Chris Cigana, from 1st/15th Royal New South Wales Lancers, both joined the program while studying and are excited to offer their insights into the program and Defence.

“The importance of time-on-the-tools are foundational skills that need to be practised regularly,” Lance Corporal Cigana said.

“High-level theories, concepts and frameworks are great, but they cannot replace experience in the day-to-day activities of cyber security professionals in government and Defence. The ADFCGP showed us typical working situations that we would find ourselves in.”

If Corporal Leitch could give one piece of advice to the latest cohort, it would be not to give up when things become difficult.

“The cyber skills modules will benefit your studies as you’ll have more practise on specific cyber activities,” Corporal Leitch said.

“If you can, align your subject choices with the cyber skills modules. Subjects such as penetration testing, digital forensics log analytics can help prepare you. The challenges start out easy, but become difficult - quickly - and, depending on your existing cyber skills, you may struggle.

“When this happens, your cohort and Google become your closest friends. Leverage them both to attack the challenges, using your skills to see what creative ways you can get through them.”

As a mentor this year, Lance Corporal Cigana said participants should take full advantage of all the resources and opportunities that the program’s mentors can provide.

“You'll become part of a large group of people who all have the same interests and similar career goals. Connect with people and embrace the growing cyber security community,” Lance Corporal Cigana said.

“The online communications platform is a great resource that many of my peers took an active involvement in and this led to some great professional and social situations. A lot of the time ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’.”

The Australian Government announced the ADFCGP in 2019 as part of its cyber-resilience and workforce package. The pilot intake of the program commenced in 2020 and the final intake will finish the program at the end of 2023.

As part of the ADFCGP, cyber students further their cyber skills and learn about career opportunities in Defence and the Australian Public Service. The program is run in conjunction with the Australian Public Service Digital Profession program and aims to boost Australia’s sovereign cyber workforce capability.

For more information visit the Digital Profession site.