We all remember sitting through classes because we had to; it didn’t matter if we respected our instructors, if we would ever need to know this again, or if we thought they knew what they were talking about. The only thing that mattered was getting through the class, or getting an acceptable grade – and finally, the piece of paper that said ‘Diploma’. Fast forward several years and we’re adults, with jobs, families, and bills. There isn’t the same parental ‘safety-net’ underneath us anymore, and the choices we make affect not just ourselves, but those we support as well.
Understanding the needs of adult learners in career transition has shaped the Carolina Cyber Center’s Academy.
In the large arena of cybersecurity training opportunities, we’ve seen that career transitioners need (and deserve) the ‘why’ more than any other student. Why should they learn from this instructor? If they’re going to put valuable time and resources into transitioning into the field of cybersecurity, the program must be worthwhile and must be run by people who have been in the industry for years and understand its challenges. A recent graduate of the program likened his experience to drinking from a fire hose: a focused outpouring of practical and technical knowledge. That’s the way it should be; we learn when it’s hard – because our brains are fiercely trying to relate this new information to something, some pattern, we already know. And if it’s not hard, we don’t learn.
On the flip side, we’ve also seen the need to shape the learning experience to fit the student. In a cohort of around 25 students, under the supervision of 3-5 instructors who have been in the industry and reflect where these students want to go, we provide an opportunity to change. The beginning of this journey is filled with apprehension: can I get through this? Do I have what it takes to learn something complicated, something demanding, something new?
Many of us have stood in your shoes and understand the challenge – but don’t compare your 1st quarter to another’s 4th quarter. Accordingly, we’ve created a curriculum with a decreasing tolerance for failure. As Seth Godin said, “it’s about serial incompetence on our way to mastery.” We expect failure at the outset—without it, you can’t learn—but we won’t settle for it; our curriculum becomes increasingly difficult to match and challenge our students’ abilities. Through labs, cohort interaction, hands-on teaching of the course material, and instructor accessibility, we walk you through the change from learning straightforward, relatively simple concepts to tackling scenarios that accurately reflect the real world.
One of the First Principles of cybersecurity is that you will never be done learning. We want you to own this, so our curriculum does more than get you into the field with technical competence. We supplement technical knowledge with life skills—like discipline—that will support you throughout your career. Our mission is more than certifying cybersecurity students. Your mission should be more than getting a certification. We want to work with you to help you build the skills and habits necessary to be a cybersecurity professional of character.