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From Lost Soldier to Cyber Security Warrior: Lavall Woodhouse

From Lost Soldier to Cyber Security Warrior: Lavall Woodhouse

Lavall Woodhouse separated from the United States military in 2004 after being stationed in Mannheim, Germany and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Like most veterans, Lavall had just come off of a deployment and had little idea about what to do with his life after serving our country.

“There wasn’t really a whole lot of support in the idea of transitioning from the military to the civilian world, it was kind of like you’re on your own,” Lavall said.

Watch Lavall tell his story about training at LeaderQuest Dallas in his own words, below.

Homeless and Directionless

Unfortunately, many of our veterans are lost upon their return, lacking a compass to lead them to success in the country they have been navigating the world to protect. LeaderQuest is here for that exact reason, to be a compass for individuals and lead them to success through IT training.

Lavall was in desperate need of guidance and had found himself in unfortunate circumstances leading up to his time at LeaderQuest Dallas. “When I first came to LeaderQuest, I was trying to rebuild in a sense. I was homeless, and I didn’t have a job.”

This is all too common, veterans 18-30 are twice as likely as the general population to become homeless.

The Start of a Brighter Future

Lavall was directed towards LeaderQuest Dallas by his vocational rehabilitation counselor who presented him with different training opportunities. He decided to go with LeaderQuest’s short-term certification training program and in 2016 and began his journey towards a fulfilling career in IT.

“My first impression was positive. Everybody that I had met had a great attitude in the idea that they were glad to have me there, and those attitudes were a large part of my choice”.

LeaderQuest’s Career Training Consultants evaluated Lavall’s situation and created a plan in order to ensure his success. He took the Network+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) courses, all of which complimented his previous work experience.

Ready To Move Forward

Once he passed the certification exams, he then faced the next challenge of finding a job. Luckily, LeaderQuest was already one step ahead of him and ready to ease him into this next phase with one-on-one guidance from Erika Ofurum, LeaderQuest Dallas’ Employment Development Manager (EDM). “She sat down with us and started to learn about what we were into, what kind of backgrounds we had, and what kind of certifications we had.That’s when I started to get really confident,” Lavall went said. “She really rekindled that fire for me. That was exciting.”

Getting a Job with Amazon

Lavall’s excitement was intensified as more companies started to reach out to him. His hard work finally culminated in a job offer from Amazon to work for their web services team. About a year later, we asked him if he liked his new job. He told us, “I love it!”

“We all have this idea of wanting to be GREAT. That thought is within all of us, you just have to find it and then realize it.”

Cyber Security Training at LeaderQuest

There are times when we are alone and lost and there are times when we guide each other as human beings to find ourselves and our purpose. Lavall’s will had gotten him through the trenches of the military and his determination propelled his future into a fulfilling career.

Lavall served our country, fell down, and rose up to a bright new future. His situation is a perfect example of why we exist and what drives LeaderQuest employees to deliver the highest quality of service. LeaderQuest and Lavall will always be connected by his story and the continued story of how we plan to change thousands more lives through short-term training, certifications, and guidance.

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7 Common Misconceptions About Veterans (& Why They’re Harmful)

7 Common Misconceptions About Veterans (& Why They’re Harmful)

As Americans, it’s no secret that we love our military men and women. A few times a year, we come out en masse to thank our active duty military or veterans for their service. Despite this, there are a number of myths about veterans that circulate in our culture.

In the United States, there are 1.4 million people in the military and an additional 22 million more veterans. That’s a sizeable population of dedicated people who have made a tremendous commitment to their country only to sometimes face a backlash born of misunderstandings in the civilian world.

Veterans are sometimes put in a box by those who don’t understand and labeled as villains, victims, or vindicators. Those three categories sweep aside the broad spectrum of veteran experiences and ignore everything veterans have to offer as complex individuals with unique circumstances.

With that in mind, here are the top seven misconceptions that are harmful to veterans, the truth behind the men and women in uniform, and how everyone can fight these myths. Thank you to the LeaderQuest staff and students who have served in the military and shared their experience with us for this piece.

1. All Veterans Have PTSD

“I think one of the most unique situations I was in was when my 18-year-old daughter was giving a report in her high school class that covered my time in the military. One of the comments that was made by her classmate was how I was dealing with my PTSD. She laughed this off but then it turned out the majority of the class believed that all veterans are suffering from PTSD.

My daughter let them know that although it is great that veterans are able to have access to the help they need more so than in the past, not all veterans suffer from PTSD.”

-Charles Marcus, Retired U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Student

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is definitely something that affects the veteran community, but it’s not quite as relevant as you might think. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD affects:

  • Almost 31% of Vietnam veterans
  • As many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
  • 11% of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
  • 20% of Iraqi war veterans

To sum up, don’t assume that if a person is a vet they have PTSD because it’s simply not true. If someone does tell you they’re suffering from PTSD, understand that they’re trusting you with something important and often misunderstood. That brings us to our next big myth about veterans.

2. PTSD Makes Veterans Unpredictable and Violent

“One of the misconceptions is that we all have PTSD. That we’re all going to suddenly explode some day. Or they have a misconception of what PTSD is . . . popular media oftentimes shades people with military service and what they’ve done and what they’ve been through.”

-James Gross, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff

Yes, this is such an important issue that it gets two entries. Merely saying the word PTSD is sure to conjure up images of unbalanced vets about to explode in violent, unpredictable ways. However, this characterization is a gross misrepresentation of the real disorder.

“PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.”

National Center for PTSD

What you might not know is that PTSD affects a multitude of people who experience trauma, not just those in the military. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind you of that event, having more negative beliefs because of the trauma, and feeling keyed up/jittery. People with PTSD may have other problems including:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems, including divorce

Even for the population that is affected by this, it’s more likely to cause problems for the sufferer than the people around them. Violence is only prevalent in about 7.5% for PTSD sufferers in the U.S. population and 19.5% in post-9/11 veterans. While that is a little higher, it’s important to note that post-9/11 vets are younger (median age = 34) which meaning they’ve got a higher risk of violence anyway.

One of the biggest problems with this misconception is that it often leads to the idea that veterans with PTSD can’t be trusted with firearms. This simply isn’t true. This can be especially harmful because it’s a barrier for veterans who do suffer from PTSD and want to seek treatment. Many veterans chose not to seek treatment in part due to fear that their guns will be taken away. This can be another unnecessary barrier for people who already have to navigate a difficult mental health system to get help.

Next time you hear someone speaking with authority on how PTSD makes veterans violent, you’ll have the knowledge to step in and explain what’s really going on.

3. Veterans Don’t Think For Themselves

“When people think of a soldier obeying orders, they’re thinking of orders like ‘drop and give me fifty’ that they’ve seen in movies and on TV. In reality, those orders are more likely to be a complicated series of dynamic objectives, any or all of which can and will change as soon as plans meet reality.”

Antonio, 7 Myths Civilian Employers Have About Veterans

We’ve all heard the stereotype. The vet who’s a mindless drone, completely unable to think for herself. While it’s true that basic training is designed to get those that enter the military putting the good of the group first and understanding the importance of obedience, the idea that veterans don’t have original thoughts is untrue and offensive.

Veterans are put into incredibly complex situations and have to think on their feet. Each unit has its own personality which comes out in unique ways, and getting the job done is most important above all else. This means that veterans are often forced into situations where creative thinking isn’t just good, it’s essential.

So, got a complex problem you’re not sure how to fix? Call on a vet for help. You’ll be glad you did.

4. Female Veterans Don’t Exist/Don’t Do Very Much

“The simple fact that I am a veteran. They assume my husband is a veteran but are shocked that I am too.”

-Mary Walker, U.S. Air Force, LeaderQuest Staff

Women serving on the battlefield aren’t as new as you think and have been kicking butt and taking names for decades. Currently, there are more than 2 million female veterans in the U.S., about 9% of the total veteran population. However, that doesn’t stop many people who can’t seem to wrap their minds around women in service.

While the U.S. Military only announced it would open all combat jobs to women by the end of 2015, the truth is they’ve been on the battlefield for as long as America has been a country. During the Revolutionary War, American Civil War, and Spanish American war women served as nurses, cooks, support staff, and more while others dressed as men to serve in secret.

Women were officially allowed to serve in the military since the last two years of WWI, mostly as nurses, spies, and support staff, and slowly took on more duties through WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War

In 1976, the first women were allowed to enroll in service academies like Westpoint and during the 90’s women were allowed to fly on combat missions, serve on combat ships, and were deployed to areas like the Persian Gulf. In the last two decades, women have served in more and more positions and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester became the first woman awarded the Silver Star for combat action.

The lack of awareness of female veterans is especially problematic because of the issues women have to deal with in post-service life. Female veterans are two to four times as likely as their civilian counterparts to experience homelessness and make up the fastest-growing share of homeless vets. Between 20,000 and 40,000 are homeless. Most, especially those with kids or histories of trauma, couch-surf with friends and relatives as opposed to going to shelters.

So the next time someone asks, “but do women really serve in the military?” feel free to educate them on how much women have contributed to the U.S. military.

5. Vets Are Less Skilled/Able Than Their Civilian Counterparts

In a market with such a strong emphasis on degrees, there are times when veterans are looked down upon simply because of their lack of job experience outside of the military. If you had a job fixing aircraft or defusing roadside bombs in the military, there might not be a lot of direct crossover in your skillset.

However, that doesn’t mean that veterans are less skilled or incapable of learning quickly. Quite the opposite in fact. They know how to problem solve, work on deadlines, and operate under immense pressure. In fact, research from Deloitte found that the veteran workforce is 4 percent more productive and 3 percent less likely to leave the organization.

Veterans often make great employees because they’re honest, notoriously hard workers, candid, and they know how to get things done. The truth is, you’re probably already working alongside great vets right now. Be sure to give them their due and call out their hard work.

6. Some Military Branches are Lesser/Vets Are All the Same

“From an Army point of view, they look at us like, ‘You were in the Army? That’s it?’”

-U.S. Army, LeaderQuest Student

It’s no secret that the different branches of the military like to poke fun at each other, but in the civilian world, certain branches of the military are looked down upon by some. Whether they make fun of the Army, National Guard, or the Air Force, there’s no short supply of shade to be thrown around.

In the end, serving in the military is a huge commitment. Each branch is different because it serves a specific purpose, but each branch also gives members the same loyalty, ability to operate under high-pressure situations, and willingness to do what’s best for the group and get things done.

Veterans also run the risk of attracting anti-government sentiment in general. The truth is that, while veterans do tend to vote more conservative and Republican (and also vote more in general), veterans are not a homogenous group. They have varied opinions on politics and the role of government in general. As for directing anti-government sentiment their way, just don’t. It’s not necessary or appropriate.

7. Getting Hired as a Veteran is Easy

“I thought I could get a job at the drop of a hat because I was told everyone wanted to hire military. I was unemployed for 6-weeks and was throwing my resume at anything and everything.”

-Aaron Kiewicz, U.S. National Guard, LeaderQuest Staff

Transitioning is never easy. There’s the culture shock to navigate and the sudden realization that you no longer have every hour of your day planned out for you. Perhaps the single biggest fear veterans have to deal with is going from a steady paycheck to an uncertain future for them and their families. Issues like having skills that don’t translate, concern for upcoming deployments, and being swayed by negative stereotypes of veterans, can keep veterans out of jobs they might otherwise excel in. On top of that, going from a culture that uses the f-word in excess to an office environment can be difficult.

When veterans are able to find jobs, it can be difficult to find work that is meaningful. For a population of people who had such a strong sense of duty and purpose, going to an environment where that feeling isn’t front and center can be devastating.

So, with all that in mind, what is the solution to helping vets transition into the workforce more smoothly?

Getting Vets Employed in Meaningful Jobs

Fortunately, there is a multitude of groups working to help veterans get into the civilian workforce and transitioning into the next step of their lives. Groups like We Hire Heroes, Operation Homefront, Valor Bridge, and even the USO help with career fairs, practicing interview skills, and resume building to get vets prepped for the next chapter of their lives.

Certifications are also becoming an increasingly viable option for vets who need to demonstrate their abilities to get that first employer to take a chance on them. That’s why cyber security and other IT fields are becoming an increasingly attractive option for vets.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to shattering these misconceptions. The men and women of our armed forces have done so much for us. By disarming these myths that can keep vets from jobs where they excel we take the first step in creating a workforce that is open and accepting of veterans. Not to mention the fact that vets are kick-ass workers, and who among us couldn’t use a few more of those on staff? It’s just common sense, really.

4 Students Who Changed Their Lives with IT Certification at LeaderQuest

4 Students Who Changed Their Lives with IT Certification at LeaderQuest

When you’re looking to start a new career or enter a new industry, it’s hard to find the right path. While self-study with online resources and textbooks can help, most employers won’t be swayed by that on a resume. Degrees are an excellent path to success, but they can take 2-4 years to complete. That’s where certification training comes in.

Certifications fill an important gap, especially in the IT world. They can open doors, launch careers, and show employers their new hire will have the required skills to get the job done. Of course, there’s no better proof for this than the stories of our students.

We couldn’t be more proud of our graduates who have gone out into the world and found great jobs that let them make use of the IT training they got at LeaderQuest. Today, we’d like to highlight four of these stories and show off some of our most successful grads.

Peter Quinones

Certifications: CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+

Peter came to LeaderQuest after serving in the U.S. Army for 16 years. He trained military police for the army and pursued a Master of Arts in Security Management at American Military University. Cyber security was a recurring theme in his studies, but Peter didn’t have much of a background in IT. After looking for a training provider, Peter contacted LeaderQuest and signed up for some foundational IT certifications including CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+.

Peter was a quick study and took just three months to acquire all of these certifications. Combined with his extensive education and experience, he was able to find employment quickly.

Today, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of an information system engineering firm that focuses on risk management framework compliance and IT security solutions and loving every minute.

“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures.”

READ PETER’S STORY   LEARN ABOUT IT TRAINING

Marcus Mingo

Certifications: CompTIA Security+, EC-Council CEH, and  EC-Council CND

As Marcus was completing his military service, he had an eye toward the future. He didn’t want to be scrambling to find a job after he transitioned out. He noticed that many of the job postings he was interested in listed IT certifications as a requirement. Using his GI Bill® funding, Marcus enrolled at LeaderQuest to take courses for CompTIA Security+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND).

With the help of our Career Services team, Marcus lined up three interviews by the time he’d completed his exams. Marcus got multiple offers and accepted a position with Cyberspace Solutions that came with a $20,000 pay increase. Three months later he got an even better offer from Booz Allen with another $20,000 pay bump, which he accepted.

“Since I’ve been certified, I’ve gotten a job offer for every IT position I’ve applied for.”

READ MARCUS’ STORY    LEARN ABOUT CYBER TRAINING

Randa Elfaki

Certifications: PMP and CCNA Security

Randa had IT experience in Africa but wasn’t able to secure a position here after moving to America in 2014. She took work as an assistant teacher, but she knew she wanted to be working in IT. She just couldn’t figure out how to break into the industry in the United States.

Randa didn’t have funding for her IT training, but we were able to connect her with her local workforce center where she secured funding for her training. She enrolled at LeaderQuest to get her PMP and her CCNA Security certifications; two powerful credentials that made job hunting much easier. After completing her PMP, she got a 6-month contract job with Comcast. At the end of the contract, she applied to work at WebRoot, a company that does business with Comcast. Even though she hadn’t taken the exam for her CCNA Security, the knowledge she got at LeaderQuest helped her to nail the interview and get hired.

She is now making more than $72,000 per year, a pretty big raise from making $12/hour for contract work!

“When the manager from WebRoot interviewed me, all of the information from the class was still in my head, and I got all of the questions right. He said, ‘That’s great!’ I told him that I have no experience, just education through LeaderQuest and through one class in Mumbai. And he laughed and said, ‘We’re going to train you! And we’ll help you to succeed in this role.’ So the training with LeaderQuest got my foot in the door.”

READ RANDA’S STORY    LEARN ABOUT PMP TRAINING

Richard Marx

Certifications: CompTIA Security+

Richard was laid off from his job at Honeywell in 2016. As he was trying to figure out what his next step would be, he went to his local workforce center. They discussed some options with Richard and explained that he needed to secure some key IT certifications to verify his skills so he could potentially qualify for several IT jobs immediately.

Pikes Peak Workforce center connected Richard with LeaderQuest, and he enrolled immediately. Richard started on his Security+ certification and worked with our Career Services team to improve his resume and online presence. One of our star Employment Development Managers (EDMs) here at LeaderQuest reached out to a connection at Raytheon on Richard’s behalf. Richard received a job offer from Raytheon halfway through his training. This was even before he earned his Security+ certification!

After training with LeaderQuest, Richard was making $10,000 more than he was at his previous position, before being laid off!

“Little did I know that I wouldn’t even have time to complete my certification!”

READ RICHARD’S STORY    LEARN ABOUT SECURITY+ TRAINING

IT Training at LeaderQuest

If you’re interested in starting a career in the IT industry, we can help! LeaderQuest offers 5-10 day classes designed to quickly get you trained on everything you need to know to pass the exam and get hired. Our courses are taught by expert instructors with real industry experience. They include hands-on labs. We offer courses in a full-time day format, or in the evenings after work. You can also train online or on campus, whichever works best for you.

When you’re ready to take the next step in your career and secure your future, contact us!

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5 Essential IT Certifications for DoD and Cyber Security Jobs

5 Essential IT Certifications for DoD and Cyber Security Jobs

Cyber security is huge right now. There’s no doubt about that. If you’re thinking about working in cyber security, you’ll probably want to look at the contract world. And, if you’re thinking about the cyber security enterprise world, getting IT certifications isn’t just a good idea, it’s actually required.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 8570.01 lays out a list of certifications that fit the bill to be considered for those roles. This is especially prevalent for companies that regularly work with the DoD, like Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others.

it certifications DoD requirementsWhether you’re coming from a military background and looking to get into cyber security or a cyber security pro looking to make yourself more competitive in the enterprise space, here are some of the best certifications and jobs you can get with them.

DoD Compliant Cyber Security Certifications

1. CompTIA A+

You might be surprised to see A+ on this list. It’s an entry-level certification which teaches the basics of personal computer hardware and operating systems including installation, upgrade, repair, configuration, optimization, troubleshooting, and preventative maintenance. However, support is an important part of any business and there are jobs to be had. In a role like Desktop Support Analyst, you can make between $50,000-$85,000.

  • Potential Job Roles: IT Help Desk Tier I-III, IT Field Technician, Desktop Support Analyst, IT Support Specialist, and more.
  • Salary: Starts at $50,000 (for Desktop Support Specialist).
  • Qualifies for: IAT Level I.

Learn More About A+

2. CompTIA Network+

Like A+, this certification covers the very basic building blocks of cyber security. In this case, keeping a network protected and maintained. Network+ certifies the skills to install, operate, manage, maintain, and troubleshoot a corporate network. It’s good for those who are ready to take on a role building, managing, and protecting a data network. With an unprecedented need for networking jobs, particularly System Administrators, it’s a role that’s important and well-compensated.

  • Potential Job Roles: Systems Administrator, Network Support Technician, Network Administrator, Network Engineer, & more.
  • Salary: Starts at $67,250 (for Systems Administrator).
  • DoD Qualification: IAT Level I.

Learn More About Network+

3. CompTIA Security+

While A+ and Network+ can you started in the field, Security+ is the certification that really gets you ready to launch your cyber security career. If you are interested in specializing in any type of IT security, this cert is a must. In addition to an overview/introduction to cyber security, it’s also a gateway to more specialized fields like penetration testing or ethical hacking.

  • Potential Job Roles: Systems Administrator, Information Security Analyst, Information Technology (IT) Manager, Information Technology Specialist, & more.
  • Salary: $81,467 on average (for Security+).
  • DoD Qualification: IAT Level II and IAM Level I.

Learn More About Security+

4. ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Often considered the gold standard in cyber security, the CISSP commands great respect in the cyber world. It’s a grueling, three-hour exam and intense application process. However, once obtained, it opens up many doors in infosec, architecture, design, management and more.

  • Potential Job Roles: Information Security Manager, Infosec Analyst, Penetration Tester, Cyber Security Engineer, & more.
  • Salary: $113,820 on average (for Information Security Manager).
  • DoD Qualification: IAT Level III, IAM Level II & III, and IASAE I & II.

Learn More About CISSP

5. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Added to the DoD list in 2010, the CEH certification operates under a simple rule. Sometimes to catch a hacker, you have to think like a hacker. Ethical or “white hat” hacking is about taking proactive measures by getting into the mindset of cyber criminals. This could include perimeter defense, policy creation, navigating social engineering, preventing DDoS attacks, and more.

  • Potential Job Roles: Information Systems Security Manager, IT Security Specialist, Penetration Tester, Security Network Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst, and more.
  • Salary: Starts at $115,610 (for Information Systems Security Manager).
  • DoD Qualification: CSSP Analyst, CSSP Infrastructure Support, CSSP Incident Responder, and CSSP Auditor.

Learn More About CEH!

IAT, IAM, & Other DoD Terms – What’s the Difference?

Different certifications can make you officially qualified for different levels in DoD jobs, but what do those words actually mean? We’ll go into that below. It’s important to know that some positions, particularly for Information Assurance Technicians and Information Assurance Management, are divided up by a tier system from level I to level III. This rating, of course, signifies the difficulty of the task at hand, experience needed, and, of course, a difference in compensation.

Here is what a professional might be doing depending on the DoD requirements they meet.

Information Assurance Technician (IAT)

Great for those who love the technical work, these positions are often about keeping an organization in compliance. You’ll have access to sensitive data and need to ensure that networks and systems are up to code. If they’re not, you’re the one who goes in and fixes many of these issues. If you are looking to start an enterprise cyber security career, this is the place to start.

Potential Job Roles: Network Engineer, Junior Software Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst, and more.
Certifications That Meet Qualifications: A+, Network+, and Security+.

Information Assurance Management (IAM)

As “management” suggests, this level often oversees more of the macro problems of ensuring that hardware, software, and networks are in compliance and safe from those who would do harm. If you’ve got an eye toward focusing on the more macro problems and are looking to get into IT management, this could be for you.

Potential Job Roles: Information Systems Security Officer, Infrastructure Engineer, Cyber Information Systems Security Analyst, and more.

Certifications That Meet Qualifications: Security+ and CISSP.

Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer (IASAE)

In the DoD 8570.01M, IASAE positions are responsible for, “the design, development, implementation, and/or integration of a DoD IA architecture, system, or system components.” What does this mean, exactly?

Basically, these roles move into the realm of a cyber security architect. Duties can include overseeing the building of a network from design to implementation to make sure all fronts are functional and secure. This could also include designing record systems and special purpose environments. Bottom line, if you like designing systems from the ground up and solving complex problems, this could be for you.

Potential Job Roles: Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer, Cybersecurity Architect, Information Systems Security Engineer, and more.
Certifications That Meet Qualifications: CISSP.

Cybersecurity Service Provider (CSSP)

There are five different areas of DoD compliance that begin with the title of Cybersecurity Service Provider. Each of those compliance areas covers a multitude of jobs. However, in general, Cybersecurity Service Providers operate on a much larger scale within a company.

They determine policy and work with senior management to ensure that policy becomes reality. This could include making vulnerability assessments, developing and overseeing tracking, or helping with audits, but specific duties vary greatly.

Here’s a quick list of a few of the different CSSP roles.

  • CSSP Analyst: Works with a lot of data to figure out where the risks in an organization occur/could occur and make sure the tracking methods are in place to properly assess an organization.
  • CSSP Infrastructure Support: These roles are geared more towards maintaining, creating, and designing the infrastructure and the actual systems of an organization.
  • CSSP Incident Responder: Relates to responding to real-time threats to cyber security. This could include recognizing and dealing with potential, current, or past intrusion attempts and assisting with the implementation of counter-measures.
  • CSSP Auditor: This person takes charge Risk Management Framework or Security Control Assessment and Authorization (A&A) of management, operational, and technical security controls. They could work on detecting, characterizing, countering and mitigating network and system vulnerabilities and managing security events.

Potential Job Roles: Cybersecurity Policy Analyst, Operations Program Analyst, Cybersecurity Policy Analyst, and more.
Certifications that Qualify: CEH.

Learn Cyber Security Fast at LeaderQuest

it certifications best for cyber security

Cyber security is a rapidly growing field with a real and present need for more qualified professionals. If you’re thinking about starting a career in cyber security, there’s no need to wait. That’s why LeaderQuest provides 5-10 day classes online, at night, or on campus, to fit any schedule and learning style.

LeaderQuest specializes in cyber security training. We’ll cover everything you need to know to get certified in cyber security and excel during your first day on the job. If you get to a point where things just aren’t sticking, don’t worry! You can resit the course for free anytime you want when you need a refresher.

Join the fight against cyber terror. Contact us today!

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13 IT Job Hunting Tips For Veterans

13 IT Job Hunting Tips For Veterans

While nobody likes hunting for jobs, it can be especially difficult for transitioning veterans. The civilian business world just doesn’t work the same way that the military does. While the freedom to take your career in any direction is exciting, it may also be intimidating. It can seem like you have a million things to do before you can even begin to apply for IT professional jobs.

Fortunately, by taking it one thing at a time, and one day at a time, you can break these tasks down into small parts that are easy to accomplish. Below are 13 tips to help transitioning service members undertake their job hunt with confidence!

Job Hunting

1. The Hiring Process Takes Time

This may seem obvious, but it can be hard to grasp in practice, especially for transitioning veterans. Don’t expect to be able to get a new job immediately. Plan on your job hunt taking at least 4-6 weeks before you’re starting your new position. Even if you’re interviewed within the first week of your job hunt, it will take more time for a second interview and other things such as a background check, calling your references, drug testing, and so on.

2. Professionalism is Important

Most job hunters are prepared to dress professionally, but professionalism doesn’t end there. Remember to stay in communication with potential employers. If you have a phone interview, send them an email thanking them for their time afterward. Set up reminders to occasionally email them and see if they need more information. And, if they reply to you, make it a priority to get back to them! You don’t want to lose your chance at a great job because they didn’t hear back from you for two days.

3. Not Everyone Will Respond

The military is a highly structured organization, and you may have come to expect a response when sending out an email inquiry. Sadly, the civilian job hunt is the exact opposite of this. As you send out applications, you’ll begin to notice that you hear nothing at all in response most of the time.

Don’t take it personally. Hiring managers are very busy, and they are looking for the ideal candidate for each position. With possibly hundreds of applicants per position, they don’t have time to respond to every resume they get. Just keep applying for new jobs, and don’t sweat it if you don’t hear anything back.

4. Apply to Recently Posted Jobs

Job hunting takes a significant amount of time every day. You don’t want to waste your time applying for jobs you have little to no chance of getting. It’s for this reason that we recommend only seeking jobs that have been posted within the last one to two days.

Older job postings, especially from a week or more ago, are have either been filled or the company has created an applicant pool and is working on it. Job postings from the last one to two days are fresh, and you’ll get a much higher response rate by applying to these. Speed is key because candidates are called as they apply.

5. IT Companies Tend to Hire Contract Positions to Start

Don’t look at a contract position as a “lesser” option. You may think it’s better to hold out for a full-time offer, but these can be very difficult to find. Contract positions are very common in the IT world for a few reasons and are often a gateway to a salaried position. Employers like to “try before they buy” by hiring workers on as contractors. If they like the worker’s skill set and work ethic, they will be interested in bringing them on.

Another reason for contract-to-hire is to avoid the cost of a security clearance renewal unless they know they want to have that person on staff for a while. A security clearance can cost between $30,000-$60,000 to renew. Finally, it’s important to remember that many states, including Colorado, Florida, and Texas are at-will employment states. You do not have more job security by seeking a salaried position.

IT Professional Resume

6. Certifications Count as Experience

If you have relevant IT certifications, make sure to list these on your resume! Certifications are as good as experience in the eyes of many employers and can make up for a lack of job experience on your part. If you haven’t completed your certifications yet, but are studying for them, list them on your resume as “in progress.” Keep studying and take the exam as soon as possible so that you can officially list these on your resume.

7. References Don’t Need to Be on Your Resume

This is just a quick reminder. Don’t put references on your resume! They take up valuable space, and you should reserve them until you’re asked to provide them. Instead, just add “References Available Upon Request.”

8. IT Experience and Your Resume

Just because your job title doesn’t have IT doesn’t mean you don’t have experience. If you spend some time thinking about your duties at work, you’ll notice that most jobs have IT aspects. Make sure to list these on your resume. Perhaps you have experience with a point of sale system, or you were responsible for rebooting the router at your job. Yes, there is always somebody with more IT experience, but there are also people with less! Don’t be afraid to list your experience with IT, even if it’s a hobby. It can be used on your resume.

9. PM Resumes Should Have a Section Called “Projects”

If you’re looking for project management positions, you should have a section on your resume to describe the kind of work you’ve done before and highlight your successes. Don’t include projects under your different jobs, where they may get lost. By giving them their own section, you can give your project experience the spotlight it needs to shine.

10. Use Military IT System Names

Go ahead and use the names you already know to describe military IT and networking equipment. You’d be surprised by how many people with military experience are out there. If they don’t have any experience, there’s always Google! By using the correct names for these things, you show that you know what you’re talking about.

11. Be as Technical as the Job Description

You may be worried about being too technical in your resume and putting-off people who aren’t as tech-savvy. If this is a concern, take a cue from the IT professional job description. If it contains a lot of technical details and jargon, feel free to be as technical as you want. If it looks like it was written by a layperson, tone down the technical references instead.

12. Optimize for Keyword Search

As you work on your job hunt, you’ll notice that certain terms pop up over and over in the jobs you’re looking for. You should make your resume mirror the IT job descriptions by including similar language. Don’t just copy/paste what they had in the job posting, but do try to see if you have experience that matches what they’re looking for. As you see terms comes up repeatedly, make sure that these are included on your resume if you can.

Large corporations use software to comb through the hundreds of resumes they get and narrow them down to a few top contenders that have the needed skills. If your resume is missing these terms, you won’t get the chance to explain this to the hiring manager.

13. Don’t Get Overwhelmed, Ask for Help from Your EDM!

The job hunt can seem like a never-ending list of things to do, but it doesn’t have to be. If you study for your certifications at LeaderQuest, you’ll get access to our Career Services team including your friendly local Employment Development Manager (EDM). Each EDM has a twofold job: to help prepare our students for the job hunt, and to connect with employers in the community who might be interested in hiring our graduates.

Your EDM can help you break down all the details of the job hunt and take care of them one at a time. They’re experts when it comes to resumes, cover letters, job hunting techniques, and interviewing. It’s their mission to make sure each of our graduates is armed with everything they need to secure the job they want. When one of our employer partners is hiring, your EDM can even help you skip much of the job hunt process!

IT and Cyber Security Training at LeaderQuest

If you’re interested in a career in IT, cyber security, project management or networking, LeaderQuest can help! We offer 5-10 day certification courses that will give you the knowledge you need to pass the exam and excel in a new IT job. You’ll also gain access to our Career Services team. From initial training to dealing with your GI Bill® to finding a job in IT, we’re here to help and we understand veterans better than anybody. Job hunting is never easy, but we can help you get the training you need to succeed.

If you’re interested in investing in your future, contact us today.

Start Your Career

Why They Chose LeaderQuest: the IT Certification Stories of our Students

Why They Chose LeaderQuest: the IT Certification Stories of our Students

The students we have the pleasure to serve at LeaderQuest come from all walks of life. Some are industry experts with a decade of experience while some are brand new, entering the world of IT for the first time.

We welcome people straight out of the military and straight out of high schools alongside those who haven’t been back to school in years. Though they all have different journeys, we are proud of all of them.

Now, we’d like to highlight three student success stories from those who came to LeaderQuest, conquered their classes, and got hired. This is the story of three journeys of students who enrolled at LeaderQuest.

Ken Argenbright – from U.S. Air Force to NOC Technician

Transitioning Out of the Air Force

During his 9 years in the Air Force, Ken Argenbright served as an F22 Avionics Specialist. As he prepared to transition back into the civilian world he was nervous but excited. He wasn’t sure if he needed more schooling and realized, for the first time in years, he had to create his own sense of purpose.

“It’s tough because you’re used to the military you have a mission you’re after and a team you’re already working with so you have a good idea of where your life is going and what’s the next step. When you get out, all of that’s kind of out the window. Now it’s up to you to make your own mission or find something worth putting your time into. It’s a little discouraging at first to try and make those own calls yourself and figure out what’s important.”

-Ken Argenbright

After initially considering a master’s degree in cyber security, Ken changed his mind when he heard from LeaderQuest.

Taking Classes & Getting Certified!

it careers

After getting the opportunity to tour the facility and do a little more research, it was clear that it was a professional environment with lots to offer.

“Very quick responses, very professional atmosphere, very service oriented,” he said, “They’re here to help and they do a job at it.”

Since Ken had a military background and active security clearance, the staff at LeaderQuest helped Ken get on a path that would get him into cyber security, while providing the foundation of IT knowledge he needed to start his career.

Ken found the instructors to be extremely knowledgeable and the coursework thorough and comprehensive. That included a wealth of supplemental materials and lab simulations that allowed the user to practice cyber security techniques virtually. It was an environment he liked.

“[It’s] not like super strict school atmosphere it was relaxed,” he said, “I could make dad jokes and they were okay with it . . . even the instructor did some of his own jokes, so that helps.”

Before long, it was time to take the exam. Ken passed his ITIL test with flying colors while still working on his classes for A+, Network+, and Security+. However, there was a surprise in store before he’d even finished his classes.

Hired as a Tier 1 NOC Personnel

Even as Ken made his way through classes, he was taking advantage of LeaderQuest’s career services and Employment Relations Manager to learn how to tailor his resume for prospective jobs. He fired off resumes to see what he could get.

In February, Ken accepted an employment offer as a Tier 1 NOC Personnel for the Colorado Springs company ManTech. Now, he works with the TSA to make sure that all transportation systems are secure.

“I’ll be working with computer systems and networks and making sure that there are no potential terrorists boarding our airplanes,” he said.

As Ken finishes his certifications while starting his new position, would he recommend LeaderQuest to others? You bet.

“If you’re going to be going into cyber security or any IT position, go for LeaderQuest,” Ken said, “because they can hook you up with anything you need.”

Learn More!

Tylyr Brown – Making Ends Meet & Thriving

Working at a Dry Cleaner to Make Ends Meet

it certificationsTransitions can be rough and that was definitely the case for Tylyr Brown, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

After serving as a 3531 Motor D Operator, and completing an apprenticeship to be a diesel mechanic in the military, he returned home and faced a layoff right before the holidays. During that time, he took a job at a dry cleaner to make ends meet and found himself struggling and missing his military service.

“I missed my job and I missed the team environment we had there,” Tylyr said, “you don’t see that very much in the civilian world anymore. Your team was like your family.”

With a four-year-old son and wife who needed him, as well as some community college under his belt, Tylyr needed a change for a successful career. That’s where LeaderQuest came in.

“I was trying to get out of that as fast as I could,” Tylyr said, “As soon as I heard from LeaderQuest here I jumped at the opportunity.”

Getting in Touch with LeaderQuest

After getting into classes, it didn’t take Tylyr long to rekindle his love of IT. Taking classes full-time, he found himself awash in study materials and ready to get his career on track.

“I love IT. I love computers. I love breaking them up, taking them apart, putting them back together. Going back through everything and refreshing my memory on some things and relearning wireless access points and different ports and all the things I didn’t know clearly, so I know and they’re stuck in my head, definitely prepared me for the future.”

-Tylyr Brown

Tylyr set out on a path that included a few cyber security classes and went after certifications including CompTIA A+, ITIL, Network+, Security+, the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and the EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND). He was surprised by the depth of coverage each topic got, despite the short runtime.

“[The instructor] explained things that, I went to college for two years, and even I didn’t know,” Tylyr said.

More than that, he found in LeaderQuest the support system he’d been searching for since he left the military: an extremely welcoming and warm environment.

“It was like being part of a family,” he said, “they’re very comforting and very caring people here.”

Employed and Looking Forward

With two classes still to finish, Tylyr decided it was time to send out resumes. When he did, he was pleased to find that he got a job offer as a Tier I Tech. Ultimately, he said taking LeaderQuest classes is what allowed him to do it.

“I didn’t feel confident enough when applying for jobs to apply for IT jobs until LeaderQuest. Being able to do put LeaderQuest on my resume and that I’ve gotten these courses completed and that I was doing more schooling gave me the confidence to go out there and search for an IT job somewhere.”

With two classes to finish at night, Tylyr is ready to take on the future in what is sure to be a long and exciting IT career.

“I owe LeaderQuest my career,” he said.

Learn more about the cyber security program Tylyr took.

Learn More!

Mitch Ross – Recalibrating to Cyber Security

Meeting LeaderQuest through WIOA

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Mitch Ross’ story begins in one of the worst ways any employment story can: a layoff with a total of eleven months out of work. Mitch needed a change.

He reached out to a Colorado workforce center and worked through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program which helps out of work individuals retool. He knew he wanted to work in either cyber security or cloud computing and, as part of WIOA, Mitch was required to evaluate at least three different training programs. He chose LeaderQuest because of the content, ability to provide virtual training, and the sense of understanding he formed with the counselor.

“I felt comfortable and felt confident I could move forward and be successful here,” he said. “The counselor really tried to fit my needs, asked my direction, looked at my history, what I wanted to do going forward, and suggested the cyber security program that I went through.”

Cyber Security Classes and More

certificationsAfter he made the decision to take most of his classes virtually, the LeaderQuest staff helped Mitch get set up on the live platform and then he was ready to learn.

Mitch took three classes, CompTIA Security+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker, and the EC-Council Certified Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI). Each class had a different instructor and each was taken online though through a live format.

Most helpful of all was the library full of materials Mitch had access to thanks to the instructor. In addition to using this wealth of material to take the exam, he also found it useful in his day to day life working in cyber security.

“I learned a lot about things I had previously just touched,” he said.

A New Position with Coalfire Systems

Every timeMitch passed a new certification, he would put it up on his LinkedIn Profile. One day, that really paid off. The cyber security firm Coalfire Systems, seeing his certifications, actually reached out to Mitch and sought him out.

“As I was working through my third certification we were talking about and negotiating a job,” he said.

Before long, he was officially offered a job and joined the Coalfire team in February of 2017 as a Senior Security Consultant. Mitch finished his certifications and today serves as an incredibly skilled cyber security expert specializing in cyber engineering and architecture for the companies Coalfire Systems serves.

“LeaderQuest has had a very positive impact on my career and helped me get on a brand new path that has really made me more excited, or restored my excitement, in IT,” Mitch said, “If you’re looking to retool, or if you’re just looking to further your career in a specific direction with a new certification, this is an extremely good path and LeaderQuest will help you greatly do that. Training will help you get there faster.”

-Mitch Ross

Learn More Here!

Want to Start a Career in IT?

LeaderQuest can help! Whether you’re interested in entry-level IT, networking, project management,it certifications it careers cyber security, or more, we can help you get trained, get certified, and get hired.

Our classes are all lead by industry experts with years of experience and offered at night or during the day in an on-campus or online format. In addition to getting you trained, we also offer career services and can put you in touch with local employers.

If you’re thinking about a career in IT, don’t wait. Invest in your future today!

Get Trained Today!