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Jacob’s Inspiring “Secure The Future” Competition Win

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Uplifting the next generation of talent is part of our vision: a world where each day is safer and more secure than the one before. The Palo Alto Networks Secure The Future competition provides an educational opportunity for talented students to showcase and expand their cybersecurity knowledge. This competition challenges students to protect operational assets through the analysis, comparison, and selection of advanced security tools, methodologies, and implementation options. Jacob, our most recent winner, shares an inspiring story about his rise to the top. 

Just two months after moving to the United States from Nigeria, Jacob met Lionel: alumni of Ball State University, previous Secure The Future winner (pictured below) and current employee at Palo Alto Networks. He was intrigued by the fact that they passed through the same educational program and inquired about his job at Palo Alto Networks. Lionel shared that he had landed his role through the Secure The Future competition: winners of the competition are given a red carpet interview experience with Palo Alto Networks’ Early Talent team and can be matched to positions that align with their skill sets showcased. Lionel advised Jacob to be on the lookout for this year’s round, and shortly after, Jacob heard about Secure the Future through Ball State University. Jacob applied feeling reassured that he could be successful through hard work all while navigating a new country and juggling school. Naturally, he began to foster a relationship with Lionel.

Jacob says Lionel was really supportive throughout the six-month process and that the knowledge that someone from his educational program had been successful in the competition really motivated him. They met regularly on calls where Lionel mentored Jacob, sharing his wisdom and feedback. But of course, Jacob was in the driver’s seat. He was extremely organized throughout the process, never missing a deadline. He also took his time reading through directions to ensure he met the criteria in each phase, and his receptiveness to Lionel’s feedback further elevated his work. Points accumulate throughout the competition, so it’s important to maximize the amount you earn at every phase. Ultimately, commitment and consistency enabled Jacob’s success. 

For future competitors, Jacob offered to share advice in the same way Lionel offered his. “Believe you can do it,” Jacob says—that is half the battle. “[Secure The Future] is a very long process and it’s important to not give up.” He emphasized that you cannot become complacent, since everyone in the competition is at the top of their game. 

As a closing thought Jacob shared that he “appreciates Palo Alto Networks” and is grateful that, “Everything in Secure The Future was based on merit and equal opportunity.” Interested in learning more about Early Talent Programs at Palo Alto Networks? Check out our careers website and follow us on Instagram.

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