Serving the Career Changers and Recent Grads

By Adam Bricker

What do recent cybersecurity graduates, career changers, and professionals with “gaps” in their resumes have in common? They need to prove that they can do the job.

As a cybersecurity educator, professional, and small business leader, the last few days have been remarkably encouraging as I co-led the Carolina Cyber Network Spring Convening. We challenged each other to learn, grow, and envisage new models of talent development (immutable block chain for competency validation anyone?). We also discussed the day-to-day struggles to creating, sharing, and “leveraging the best of what others have already mastered” teaching materials to help each other and thereby accelerate the student’s learning journey as efficiently as possible. Throughout our time together, we pushed to formulate and really own our collective “why”—what are the reasons we do what we’re doing? We tell our students that the ‘why’ must be stronger than the ‘why not,’ and it is no different in our case. We do what we do because of our relationships with each other; because we love seeing our students (as well as ourselves) learn and become better at our craft; we love seeing the fruits of our labor (i.e., talented IT and cyber professionals) we’ve poured our heart, mind, and souls into; and we love being of service to others. These are the four sources of joy in life. And we are all so very thankful to serve our students, the hiring businesses (public and private) and thereby honor the citizen’s tax dollars – the source of all our livelihoods.

Out of these formative conversations and goal settings came an idea for an initiative; one that will serve and help the recent graduates, the career changers, and the professionals with gaps in their resumes.

Imagine that there’s an immutable record of student’s achievement readily accessible to employers? I don’t mean a written test; we have those. Instead, we imagined together what it would look like to break our curriculum down into knowledge units, then validate students through a lab or a videoed exercise and place it on a blockchain that is viewable by anyone. Yes, this is a wild idea, but we must keep challenging the paradigms driving education. At the macro-level, not much has changed since then when education was designed to transition an agrarian society into an industrial age.

We’re talking about a set of tools, technologies, and associated pedagogy/andragogy that enables students to bridge the gap between where the student, young professional, or career transitioners are–a true measurement of their knowledge and capabilities—and what employers see. We have a great deal to learn ourselves, but I could not be more proud of the heart, intellect, passion and support the CCN leaders (from 17 different schools) to design and deliver an efficient work-ready talent development program on behalf of our great nation and the people of North Carolina.

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