Alumni Spotlight

From Postal Worker to Cybersecurity Professional with Fullstack Academy

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Liz Eggleston

Edited By Liz Eggleston

Last updated on November 6, 2023

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After a family member was scammed, Jesse Edwards realized that we need more professionals to protect our vulnerable systems from malicious intent. Using his veteran’s benefits, Jesse enrolled in the Cybersecurity Bootcamp at Fullstack Academy and graduated prepared for cybersecurity certifications like Security+, Network+, and Linux! Now Jess is a Tech Admin at PwC and on track to become a Cybersecurity Analyst. Learn more about how the Fullstack Academy experience helped Jesse successfully launch his new tech career.

You had some college experience in computer science — what made you choose cybersecurity?

I got out of the military in 2013, and I moved to Florida to pursue a bachelor’s degree using my GI Bill. A few years into my degree, my dad had a stroke so I stopped school and moved back to Texas to work and support him. I worked at a post office through COVID — it was exhausting working long hours for not enough pay and I was ready to change careers! On top of that, my dad kept getting hit with online scams pretending to be Microsoft, and I wanted to figure out how to stop cyber crime. 

There are so many cybersecurity bootcamps now — What stood out about Fullstack Academy?

Since I’m a veteran, I wanted to utilize the VET TEC program to cover my tuition. The VET TEC program covers virtual learning, and it paid for my Fullstack Academy tuition plus a monthly stipend for living expenses. It doesn’t cover everything, so I recommend having some kind of savings before quitting work completely. 

I researched my VET TEC school options and I was sold on the positive Fullstack Academy reviews! A lot of alumni confirmed that the education they received from Fullstack Academy was better than other programs. 

Was it difficult to get into the cybersecurity bootcamp at Fullstack Academy? 

The application process is fairly easy. You don’t need any technical knowledge at all to enroll at Fullstack Academy!

Early on in the program, there was a section of learning that you had to get a passing score on to advance with the bootcamp, which most everyone did.

What was a typical day like in the online cybersecurity bootcamp

It was like a 9-5 job! A typical day included studying, training, lunch, and more learning with instructors. Then there was supplemental learning on our own time. 

It was a lot of hands-on training, which I loved! Every step covers core cybersecurity principles. The main tool we learned was Linux, and we did a lot of Capture the Flag where you had to find the flag in Linux. We also played when we were learning how to hack. We got training using Metasploit and actually hacking into a controlled environment or different virtual box. We got to see how hacking works — what tools cybersecurity professionals use, how to do it yourself, and how to defend against it. 

Did you learn any actual coding in the cybersecurity bootcamp? 

Yes, there is a section on scripting. Fullstack Academy offers an entire course on Python, so you can learn the basics of Python and work on projects to practice the skills you learn. 

What were your instructors like? Were they cybersecurity professionals?

Yes, our main instructor was a security engineer with many years of experience in the cybersecurity space. A lot of the instructors had over 10 years of experience and were great about informing us of different fields we could go into. They're extremely knowledgeable, including the mentors, even if they were new to the space. 

Was your cohort mostly career changers?

Most of us were. Just a few were already in the field, attending for ongoing training. Most people started the bootcamp without a technical background. 

We connected on Slack and Discord and could communicate with other Fullstack Academy students in different bootcamps and cohorts. It was great to network with them!

Which cybersecurity or networking certifications did Fullstack Academy prepare you for?

The Fullstack Academy Cybersecurity Bootcamp prepared us for Security+, Network+, and Linux certifications. I took my certification exam after I graduated from the bootcamp.

The cert exam cost wasn’t included in tuition, but veterans can complete a mini Security+ bootcamp on InfoSec Institute to receive a voucher to pay for the exam that way. 

How did Fullstack Academy prepare you for the tech job hunt? 

Fullstack Academy prioritized practicing technical interviews, which I found very helpful! There was time after school to do mock interviews, resume building, and talk with a career coach. Our coach, Kim (Wood) Pomfret, had invaluable insights on what recruiters look for, which helped us tailor our resumes to get the jobs we want!

Which tech roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating?

At first, I applied for anything in cybersecurity because our teachers told us it’s extremely competitive and hard to get into, but that once you're in, you're in. After putting in lots of applications, I started applying for beginner tech jobs, help desk roles, and entry-level software development roles, when I finally landed my role at PwC. 

Now you’re a Tech Admin at PwC! How long did it take after graduating to land this job? 

About four months. My career coach told me not to expect something right away and that it could take up to six months, so I felt proud that I landed my first job within four months!

What was the interview process like for you? 

PwC asked a lot of cultural questions to see how you’d adapt to their company. They were less concerned about the certifications and more about how well I get along with people and if I’d be a good team member. 

One helpful tip I have for anyone on the job hunt now is: research the company ahead of time and understand their mission statement because they base their interview questions on principles built around business acumen, leadership, culture, and more.

What kinds of responsibilities does a Tech Admin have?

Currently, I'm on the TechConnect team at PwC. Tech admins handle the technical operations side of things, which includes a lot of troubleshooting. We understand the PC build processes and provisioning and troubleshoot any technical issues. We also handle all the meeting room technologies and any repairs with Windows and Macs or the monitors.

Does PwC have any career advancement opportunities for you? 

PwC offers a lot of training opportunities! Right now, I am enrolled with the PwC's NIS cybersecurity department for all the cybersecurity certification training that I can get, which PwC pays for! Anything from CySA+ to data analytics to Azure cloud, Google cloud, Oracle cloud — they provide training for all of it and I can do it at my own pace. They track it and pay for it and it goes into my Workday profile. 

I’m also meeting a lot of people at PwC, which is great because networking is so important. When new opportunities come up, they can see my profile and see all my certifications. I have a mentor that is supporting me on my cybersecurity career path. I have my foot in the door — he’s encouraged me to keep studying and working hard gaining experience and the path will present itself. 

So far, are you using what you learned at Fullstack Academy now on the job as a Tech Admin?

A lot of it! We learned the technical operations side of networking, I learned about Network+, how computers work, and processes. Fullstack Academy also taught us about user-based roles or identity access management, which translates into the work I do at PwC. A lot of my current work is role-based, so we're allowed to enter certain rooms that other people aren't, or we can go in and fix certain things that other people can't. 

What’s the next job title you’re aiming for?

Something like a Cybersecurity Analyst — PwC calls their roles different things, so the job responsibilities could be what a cybersecurity analyst does, but called something different. 

At this point in your career, was Fullstack Academy worth it for you?

Definitely! I kind of regret not learning more software development because I think it’s easier to get into, but it was definitely beneficial to learn cybersecurity at Fullstack Academy. 

What is your advice to incoming students on making the most of the Fullstack Academy bootcamp experience?

Don't stress too much and don’t quit! This isn’t like a traditional school with grading systems. Fullstack Academy will work with you 1:1 until you graduate. Don’t give up, you can do it!

Find out more and read Fullstack Academy reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Fullstack Academy.

About The Author

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps. With a background in writing, teaching, and social media management, Jess plays a pivotal role in helping Course Report readers make informed decisions about their educational journey.

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