Alumnus Jacob Sisko makes an impact through Department of Army civilian career

Jessica Hallman
January 12, 2021
Jacob Sisko

Jacob Sisko

IMAGE: Provided

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Jacob Sisko first accepted his offer from Penn State to study forensic science, he never imagined that he’d one day work for the Department of the Army and its Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Maryland.

But, just before he started at University Park, Sisko learned about the security and risk analysis program at the College of Information Sciences and Technology and changed his major.

“Knowing already that I was interested in government, I was trying to make myself as competitive as possible for the future,” he said. “I thought cybersecurity was, and still is, the kind of field to go in to because there are competitive jobs and opportunities, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.”

It was through his new major and the College of IST that Sisko learned about Scholarship for Service, a program funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. Through the program, recipients earn scholarship funding in exchange for a commitment to work in government after they graduate.

“Some of my friends in college were intimidated by that commitment, but I can tell you that the time goes by quick, and if you can receive tuition funding to give back some time, even if you don’t stay in government, it’s still an amazing experience,” said Sisko. “And then if you ultimately decide to go into consulting or somewhere else, you bring that knowledge with you which is very useful.”

Sisko was so passionate about his positive experience with the Scholarship for Service program and how it led to a rewarding career with the government that he has volunteered to guide College of IST students interested in federal work. Last year, he served on a federal jobs panel at Penn State, sharing his professional journey and offering advice.

“I told students, ‘If you want to work for the government, it’s a good civic duty to give back and serve your country—even as a civilian. You don’t have to be a soldier to work for the Army,’” he said. “Most in the Army are civilians who work in labs or offices supporting the soldiers who are out in the field.”

Sisko began his career with the Army as an IT specialist after earning his degree in 2015. Most recently, he has served as executive officer to two different directors, assisting them with their day-to-day operations, while completing his master's degree in electrical and computer engineering, funded by the Army. And now, in a new branch position with the organization, Sisko works with unmanned aerial systems to protect soldiers in the field who are facing threats from enemy drones.

“The work is rewarding and tremendous. It’s cutting-edge stuff,” he said. “You’re making a difference. That’s probably the biggest thing that drew me to work in government: the value and impact that you can make and how important the work is.”

Last Updated January 12, 2021