Nathan Kim

Cybersecurity and Computer Information Technology (CIT)

What made you decide to choose your specific major?

Cybersecurity is cool. You can be able to save people from many types of devastating attacks, having a real benefit on their lives. I was wondering where I should go because of my interests in both public service and computer science, and for me, cybersecurity was the perfect balance between the two. Network engineering adds to this by expanding my areas of expertise and allowing me to understand the relationship between certain parts of cybersecurity to networks. Now that I have chosen my double majors, I am now able do to service with computer technology during my quest of getting into the FBI and NSA out of graduation.

What are a couple of your favorite things about your program of study?

Although most of what we do in our department in general can be thought of as "applied computer science", CIT is dedicated to incredibly high scientific and academic standards. CIT majors participate in the more fun parts pertaining to cybersecurity and network engineering like real-world IT deployments and even opportunities in research that can be implemented really soon. Compared to the CS security track, we do less math and theory at the benefit of taking classes that teach you skills that you will immediately apply on your personal network and machines.
From a career perspective, because of how studious and well-respected our hands-on education is, CIT generally tends to place students into internships much earlier than students in other fields. Heck, even one of our graduation requirements is to get actual industry experience so that you set yourself up for success.

What has been one of your favorite class projects?

In System and Organizational Security (CNIT182), there's a fun, semester-long competition where you compete for fun special privileges like being able to drop a test/lab score from your grade and even winning a paid lunch from the professor. Before I knew it, I was actively learning how to do important tasks that head security officers and executives in large companies are responsible of doing.

What other activities are you involved in on campus?

Here's what I do for work:

  • UNIX System Administrator for Purdue System Cloud in Purdue IT (formerly ITAP)
  • Note Taker for the Disability Resource Center (DRC)
  • Undergraduate Research Assistant for Purdue School of Computer and Information Technology (aka the CIT dept.)
  • Formerly employed at Purdue Dining and Culinary, and Purdue Convocations

Here's what I currently meddle in:

  • Purdue Cyber Forensics Club (Executive Officer)
  • Head Ambassador for Purdue's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (aka CERIAS)
  • Polytechnic Ambassadors (Student Ambassador)
  • The Data Mine Learning Community (General Cohort)
  • Purdue University Chinese Students and Scholars Association (aka PUCSSA)
  • Purdue Taiwanese Student Association (aka TSA)
  • Men's Leadership Series
  • Purdue Alumni Student Association (Mentee)

What do you know about your program of study now that you wish someone had told you when you were choosing a major?

1. Network Engineering is needed if you want real knowledge of how networks work, which Cybersecurity by itself doesn't really focus on. It's a whole thing on itself, and some of us say it's even harder than Cyber.
2. You do NOT need to be a programming whiz to do well in any CIT major. You will be given opportunities to learn it as you go.
3. We're looking at an average of above 6 figures for entry level jobs in our field.
Cybersecurity is very much a certificate-based field. Companies will offer paid tests in exchange for proof that you know certain cybersecurity skills. There are hundreds of certificates in the industry that go into different things. In theory, you can just self-study for many certification tests and take them, but Purdue's diploma and reputation kind of does that for you. College in general, but especially Purdue, will be a good choice for you to make connections and get a shot at research ahead of the game.
4. Our counterpart in CS is the security track, which will cover encryption and other mathematical foundations of cybersecurity much more heavily. If you're competent in math and programming, I would recommend checking this out as Cybersecurity engineering and R&D may be a good fit for you.
5. As you will learn here, Cybersecurity doesn't really have a clear definition. Everything needs cybersecurity these days, don't limit yourself to just the IT organization security aspect of it. If you work hard enough, you can go and do anything with cybersecurity (assuming you're eligible for national security clearance). If you wanted to, you could even dedicate yourself to AI security by taking AI CNIT classes and doing AI research here. If you can think of it, I'm sure there's an aspect of cybersecurity that is needed in that field.
6. Double majoring cybersecurity and network engineering is relatively easy since there is so many classes that overlap.
7. Our CNIT270 class here covers much of the stuff needed for Comptia Security+ certificate.

What would be one piece of advice for prospective students or new Purdue students?

For International Students: Nowadays, if you have a non-US passport, finding cybersecurity work here in the states will be hard, even if you have a graduate degree here. Unfortunately, this is just how it is right now because of politics. This is especially so for students from Mainland China, where many companies that deserve your level of education that you will get from here will likely not sponsor you to work/do internships for them regardless. For undergrads, this can be mitigated with very hard work and selectively applying to internships at companies that do take international students. Despite all this, I recommend all Chinese-speaking and international students to take cybersecurity at Purdue as there is much to learn in the American environment of information technology that overseas will not get for you. You will find a home and friends here.
For new students: Don't be afraid to ask questions about academics and stuff that you're interested in. Polytechnic faculty and students tend to be much friendlier and will definitely give you help and advice for what you need. Asking people and talking around is the BEST way for you to understand what the environment here all is about as well as to plan out your academic/career plans. Talking to professors during their office hours is always a good thing to do in general. Take matters into your own hand and get started on asking questions, get to understand your skillsets and develop them. Many of us in CIT as well as the other CIT ambassadors would love to see you succeed here.

Have questions? Email me at