Professional development

How learning to be “Always Flexible” helped a Marine in earning the Security+ certification

July 27, 2022 by Patrick Mallory

Semper Gumby. 

Almost as synonymous with the Marine Corps as its official motto of Semper Fidelis, the mantra of staying “Always Flexible,” as the bendable character Gumby did, shaped Ki Love’s time serving his country and as he transitions to his new career in cybersecurity. 

During his tour in the Marine Corps, Ki learned the value of being able to “adapt and overcome;” a skillset that will also be a strength as he targets a new career hunting malicious cyber actors on behalf of the U.S. Federal Government. 

To accelerate his readiness for his new role, Ki chose to pair the cybersecurity training options he found through VetsinTech and Infosec, namely a Security+ Bootcamp, with his on-going Bachelor’s degree coursework in cybersecurity. VetsinTech supports our current and returning veterans with re-integration services, and by connecting them to the national technology ecosystem. VIT is committed to bringing together a tech-specific network, resources, and programs for our veterans interested in Education, Entrepreneurship, and Employment.

After successfully completing the Bootcamp, Ki earned the Security+ certification, demonstrating to future employers his knowledge of the fundamentals of the challenging field and helping him to build even more momentum as he finishes his Degree program.

To learn more about Ki’s experience, Infosec sat down to learn more about his background, how the training helped build his cybersecurity knowledge, and collect any lessons he would like to share with other veterans looking to enter the cybersecurity industry: 

Can you tell me a little about yourself, your time in the military and how it brought you to where you are today?

I spent 5 years in the Marines where I worked as an Avionics and Fire Control Tech on Hueys & Cobras and was passionate about my work. Despite that, I decided to leave and “do something else” last minute. They always told us to adapt and overcome, which is what I’ve done now in the civilian sector. I didn’t have a plan, but that was okay. I’m now a proud father of two little girls that love to keep their mother and I on our toes.

I eventually ended up working in the Metrology field as both an engineer and a tech, but I eventually grew bored and started looking for something more, leading me to enroll in university. Now I am nearing the completion of a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity.

Why did you pursue a career in cybersecurity and take the boot camp?

Initially I was pursuing a degree in Computer Science. After taking some time off, I reevaluated what I wanted to do, and explored my university’s Cybersecurity program. Based on the course titles, it was much more in line with my interests and hobbies that I had developed in that time off. I think the challenge of staying ahead of malicious actors and the constant need to stay up to date with the latest techniques, tactics and procedures is great.

I chose to do the bootcamp based on the recommendation of a former teammate in one of my classes. She had nothing but good things to say about VetsinTech and I whole-heartedly agree. I wanted a refresher from a reputable program before sitting for the exam, and that’s exactly what I received and more. 

How have your Infosec training and certification helped give you job-ready cybersecurity skills?

The training I received through Infosec was extremely helpful in addressing my weak areas, which was primarily in the networking side. Networking is complex, difficult stuff, but the material made it much easier to actually apply the concepts. The bootcamp helped me get the one certification I wanted most to compliment my degree which I nearly have in hand. No time was wasted going over material that wasn’t going to be beneficial for the exam. I would say that being tested on knowledge of cyberattacks of varying forms, proper network configuration, and tools of the trade was the most helpful.

Since your boot camp, what’s next for you?

Since my bootcamp, the next step for me has been to continue doing the best I can in my classes to finish earning my degree. The Security+ training has helped me in some of my classes already, especially in Wireless & Mobile Security. After that, I hope to get a job working for the Federal Government ideally. I want to feel like I’m making a difference again.

How instrumental was/is VetsinTech and Infosec towards your cybersecurity career journey?

As I mentioned earlier, the VetsinTech and Infosec provided a great refresher for concepts which I already knew, fantastic training in networking concepts and methodologies, and how to recognize common attacks which I hope to be defending against some day. Through them, I have a fundamental certification which I know employers look for when screening applicants, and I couldn’t be more thankful, especially considering the minimal impact to my wallet.

 

To learn more about the VetsinTech and Infosec partnership and to see if you qualify for free certification training as a veteran, military spouse, or transitioning military member, visit the VetsinTech website.

Posted: July 27, 2022
Author
Patrick Mallory
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Patrick’s background includes cyber risk services consulting experience with Deloitte Consulting and time as an Assistant IT Director for the City of Raleigh. Patrick also has earned the OSCP, CISSP, CISM, and Security+ certifications, holds Master's Degrees in Information Security and Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and assists with graduate level teaching in an information security program. Patrick enjoys staying on top of the latest in IT and cybersecurity news and sharing these updates to help others reach their business and public service goals.

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