A typical day for Jane Woelkers involves a number of different processes and tactics, all with one objective in mind: ward against cyberattacks. With the number of malicious actors and threats growing globally, major utilities like PPL rely on professionals like Woelkers to educate employees, tighten-up processes and assess systems and operations for security weaknesses.
Woelkers always knew she wanted to work with computers. As she began her education in the Information, Science and Technology (IST) program at The Pennsylvania State University, she was drawn to cybersecurity.
“I always had a passion for learning about both crime and IT. Once I started learning more about the different areas of IT, I realized I could combine those passions and focus on cybercrime,” said Woelkers.
When she was offered an internship on PPL’s cybersecurity team, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity. “In the past, I primarily associated PPL jobs with electricians because three generations of my family worked for PPL on the trade side. I soon learned that like most businesses, PPL relies on IT infrastructure and professionals to keep things operating.”
Woelkers hit the ground running with her first project: to align the department’s data storage process by transitioning their content to a shared platform. After that, she worked with fellow interns to develop a comprehensive on-boarding process for future interns and co-ops.
When she graduated from Penn State in May 2021 with her bachelor’s in security & risk analysis, with a minor in crime, law and psychology, Woelkers had already secured her job with PPL’s cybersecurity team through its co-op program.
As an associate IT security specialist, Woelkers works to ensure that PPL employees and contractors are trained on cyber issues and aware of the latest relevant threats. She interfaces with a variety of fields and disciplines including IT, Enterprise Security, Communications, as well as the Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) Department.
She is grateful for the supportive and inclusive culture at PPL. “I was a little nervous to transition from intern to employee, but so many people supported me during that time. They gave me the confidence to perform small tasks that had a significant impact on my ability to communicate and engage with leaders in this company,” said Woelkers.
What’s her recommendation for future interns and employees? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get involved in areas outside of your skillset. “Everyone here works together for team success. The exposure and experience you’ll receive here is different than most companies – collaboration is a high priority. Also, the leaders at PPL encourage personal and professional growth within the company. They challenge your ability to problem solve with other departments while offering guidance and assistance to achieve your goals.”