Kaleigh Sporko was ready for a change. She was a paralegal for an Albany-area law firm, handling mostly estate and asset transfer. She wanted to go into a field that interested and excited her – and was still growing. She knew that cybersecurity was becoming increasingly important in every field. Her sister, a coder for a major financial institution, also influenced her decision to research and pursue a career in cybersecurity.
Sporko then started looking for graduate programs to help her break into the field. The Saratoga, NY native looked in and out of state, choosing Albany Law School because it seemed the right fit with her legal background, and the master’s program in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy could be done entirely online, since she was still working full-time.
“The online experience was even better than I expected,” Sporko said. “I loved the program. It was the right challenge that I needed.”
Sporko is honest about just how challenging it was. “If you’re going to work full time (or part time), you need to have the energy and willingness to compromise your personal time,” she said. “It’s a lot of reading, and a lot to process.” But she enjoyed learning about risk management, a new concept to her, and loved the course on Cyber Crime with Michael Skiba (also known as “Dr. Fraud” for his expertise in counter fraud strategies).
During the program, she reduced her work schedule to 30 hours a week and, eager to get started on her new career, completed the program in one year. She even attended Commencement at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center – and got to meet ten people from her online program in person. “It was nice to put faces to names that I had talked to in discussion panels,” she said, and many connected on LinkedIn.
One of her professors, Rick Cobello, a former chief information security officer for the State of New York and Tech Valley Talent, kept in touch and would send her job postings. “He was adamant about helping me get started in a new field,” Sporko said. “When a professor goes the extra mile for a student, like Cobello did for me, it makes a big impact. It’s those connections that make a program successful.”
Last summer, Cobello introduced Sporko to Jacki Goralczyk ’15, partner in the Clifton Park-based firm DeAngelus Goralczyk, PLLC, who had gone through the same program. They discovered common interests in the cybersecurity realm – but real estate was exploding due to the pandemic and Goralczyk needed more help. Always game for a new challenge, Sporko went to work for the firm as a paralegal.
“It was kind of a ‘win-win,’ because me starting in real estate was a temporary solution to adding me as part of the firm – with the ultimate goal of having me help develop the cybersecurity sector,” she said.
When real estate started to slow down a bit, Sporko and Goralczyk were able to devote more time to starting a side business focusing on risk management – with Cobello as a partner. Called Global Cybersecurity Solutions, LLC, the new venture takes more of a holistic risk management approach to business security, not just focusing on networks or selling software providers, Sporko explained. She now primarily serves as a cybersecurity analyst for the new business.
“Rick made the connection and Jacki provided the break that I needed,” she said. “I am grateful to both of them for taking a chance on me.”