Jacob Meissner never imagined he’d work in technology after obtaining his bachelor’s degree in English from Penn State. But a side job working for computer support at the University quickly opened his eyes to the countless opportunities available within the field — and led him to his current role as director of security engineering for Disney Streaming Services.
He’d intended to go to law school but realized he rather enjoyed some of the skills he’d picked up in information technology. After working as an IT consultant at Penn State for a few years after graduation in 2010, he decided to further his education in the field.
“Law school was not for me, and I was getting into technology (with the IT job at Penn State),” he said. “If I was going to continue in that career path, it really made sense that I get some sort of credential or degree that can back up that career path.”
Because he was already working for the University full-time and had a positive educational experience while earning his bachelor’s degree, he applied to Penn State World Campus for its Master of Professional Studies degree in information science with an option in cybersecurity and information assurance.
The degree is now the Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations, which is offered in partnership with the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology.
Meissner said Penn State World Campus "is great for anybody who's working full-time and doesn't have the ability to take two or three years off of work to go full-time back to school. It's definitely a challenge to balance work, school, and my personal life all at the same time.”
Penn State World Campus students can schedule their courses to align with their personal and professional responsibilities, and Meissner said the flexibility was a no-brainer for his lifestyle.
"The program creates a lot of flexibility for working professionals, and you're also getting a degree from an accredited program,” he said.
Two weeks into working toward his master's degree, Meissner got a job offer from Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). The firm is responsible for streaming major league baseball games online while managing the MLB At Bat app.
“It was great that I did decide to do World Campus, because I relocated to New York City two weeks after starting the degree program and it was a very easy transition,” he said. “It was just a matter of packing up my laptop.”
At MLBAM, Meissner was responsible for building, designing, and deploying security technologies such as intrusion detection systems, file integrity monitoring, and vulnerability scanning systems.
The media organization "had a massive online footprint, and I wore a number of hats in that role,” he said. “We got really good at streaming online; not just baseball games, but we started doing a lot of third-party business, supporting companies and services like HBO NOW, PlayStation Vue, and the WWE Network.”
As MLBAM continued to expand, the MLB decided to spin MLBAM off into a tech company known as BAMTech. As BAMTech was growing, so was the support for more third-party companies, such as Fox Sports Go. Eventually, BAMTech supported the streaming for the Super Bowl and the PGA Tour live.
Thanks to the tech firm’s exponential growth, The Walt Disney Company acquired BAMTech, and Meissner’s team was tasked with securing what is now Disney+. Currently, Meissner works as the director of security engineering for Disney Streaming Services, a technology segment within The Walt Disney Company.
“I'm currently responsible for the security of Disney+ and ESPN+ products for The Walt Disney Company,” he said. “I also oversee domains like cloud security, architecture, strategy, control assurance, and testing, as well as network and infrastructure security.”
Although Meissner started his education with a different career in mind, he kept at it and worked his way up to where he is now. He knows he did what was right for him, and his master's degree from Penn State World Campus, which he earned in 2016, helped him get there.
“The College of IST and World Campus curriculum was very relevant to my day-to-day job, especially early on. We covered things from network security to artificial intelligence to data modeling,” he said. “I learned how to work with people through a number of group projects that included delegating work, coordinating meetings across multiple time zones, and working and leading a diverse group of personalities. This also helped grow my professional network, as many of my classmates were pursuing the same career I was.”
Learn more about the degree on the Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations website.