Japanese Security Engineer Gains Silicon Valley Skills at UCSC Extension


- Motoko Tanaka

Term : May, 2013
Department : Engineering
Program : Computer Programming

Motoko Tanaka says that it is common for engineers in Japan to work for one company for their entire career. After twelve years at Fujitsu, one of the country’s largest companies, Tanaka was ready to transition to a new career. In fall 2012, she contacted the International program staff from abroad and arranged an internship at a Silicon Valley startup. By December, she had enrolled in UCSC Extension’s Computer Programming Certificate program.

“Most of my experience is not in programming, but in business,” she says. “I wanted to learn about IT security. I’ll only live once; I wanted a challenge. UCSC Extension has a very nice location and offers so many practical courses.”

The process of applying for a student visa, enrolling for courses in another country and landing an internship can be challenging, but Tanaka says that Extension staff were instrumental in helping her access the resources she needed to make the move.

“The staff is very, very helpful,” she says. “When I applied from Japan, I was very worried, but every time I contacted the student services assistants, they answered accurately and quickly. They are experts on visas.”

Once she arrived in Silicon Valley, Tanaka attended an orientation for international students, where she met other professionals from around the world. She appreciated the opportunity to network with her peers and learn the latest from industry professionals.

Tanaka is also earning Extension credit for her internship at a start-up that specializes in software defined storage. After many years working for a large company, she was surprised to see how many responsibilities her small team juggled, and how they were all encouraged to work independently.

She says that as an IT security professional, her intention is to maintain “confidentiality, to protect information from unauthorized people; integrity, to assure the accuracy and consistency of data; and availability, to make sure that the data is available when it is needed.”

At Extension, she says that her instructors do more than teach; they share their industry experience and encourage their students to explore networking events in Silicon Valley. She hopes to one day to use the knowledge she has learned at Extension, as well as new skills from her internship, to develop her own software or technology in IT security.

“The cycle is very fast," she says. "It is important to continue studying, exchange information and network.”

Visit our Computer Programming page to learn more about UCSC Extension’s unique offerings. For information on services and programs for international students, please visit our International Programs page. Browse upcoming Computer Programming courses.

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