Posted on November 20, 2019 by Wendy Frost

Will Smith’s passion for technology began in the first grade when he received his first computer. By the time he was in fourth grade, he had formed his own technology company helping individuals and businesses with their technology problems.

Will Smith photo with colleagueNow as a senior in the UTSA College of Business, Smith will graduate this spring, and in three years and has already secured a position as an information security engineer on the Global Information Security Team at Mastercard’s Global Operations Center in Missouri.

“I have a passion for studying cyber security,” said Smith, a native of Austin. “I chose UTSA because of its No. 1 ranking. And, I’ve fallen in love with the campus.”

Realizing the importance of networking, Smith set a goal to connect with 20 individuals each day in the technology industry through LinkedIn. One of those connections shared with him information about the Mastercard summer internship program. Competing with 1,000 applicants, Smith secured his spot as a corporate security operations intern after acing a 17-minute interview as a freshman.

Smith’s 10-week internship had him working in identity access management and physical access engineering. During this time he became certified in Splunk, a data analytics tool, analyzed data from Mastercard’s security logs and piloted a new turnstile badge access system for employees.

“There is a lot more to the job than sitting in the office eight hours a day,” said Smith, who is also an Eagle Scout. “It was an outstanding experience.”

Asked to return the next summer, Smith worked with the authorization and authentication team and again with physical access engineering.

“My second summer they wanted me to be more independent in my work,” he said. “I did industry research on three vendors for their new single sign-on system and worked with the visitor management system. The highlight was competing and leading a team of interns in the Internet Innovation Project.”

In addition to his love of cyber security, Smith has taken part in numerous UTSA and College of Business activities. He was a football manager his freshman year; a member of Rowdy Crew and the Computer Security Association; participated in the college’s Career Action Program and professional development events; attended the national LeaderShape conference; and worked as a First Year Experience peer mentor.

“I’m trying to suck the marrow out of UTSA since this is my last year,” he said. “I want to do as much as I can before I graduate.”

He also credits faculty members Miroslav Bartik, Robert Kaufman and Rohit Valecha with helping prepare him for this experience through classes in network security, information assurance and cyberattack and defense.

“It has been a great program,” said Smith. “I’ve learned an incredible amount, and the faculty have been supportive. UTSA has been more than I ever expected.”

Excited to begin his career at Mastercard, Smith is appreciative of his time at UTSA.

“The experiences outside the classroom environment are what make UTSA special,” he said. “Allow yourself permission to step outside your comfort zone. The business school has exposed me to opportunities that have transformed my life.”

— Wendy Frost