Ops/Marketing Consultant • Graduate • Security • Indianapolis
Mar 03, 2022
Eleven Fifty Academy changed my life, and I would tell everyone I know. After graduating college and failing to get into a graduate program, I was left working at a liquor store for ten dollars an hour. After months and months of searching, I finally landed a job using my degree, and I was more miserable than I thought possible. One morning, I woke up to an email saying I had been laid off. My wife and I were devastated. ...
Eleven Fifty Academy changed my life, and I would tell everyone I know. After graduating college and failing to get into a graduate program, I was left working at a liquor store for ten dollars an hour. After months and months of searching, I finally landed a job using my degree, and I was more miserable than I thought possible. One morning, I woke up to an email saying I had been laid off. My wife and I were devastated. Two months later I had still not found a job and things were going to get desperate. I stumbled upon the EFA (Eleven Fifty Academy) website by pure accident. Having been a technology hobbyist, I thought, it was at least worth a shot. Why not try and break into a field with a higher entry level salary than my degree? After discussing it with my wife, I made the decision to go ahead and take a leap of faith and go through with it. Nine months later, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Admissions: Carolyn was my advisor and answered every question I could think of and then some. She even gave me her personal cell phone number in case I was unable to get ahold of her for some reason. She walked me through the entire process with a smile in her voice and a helping hand whenever I was unsure of what I needed to do. There was a hang up getting some transcripts that were needed and not for a second did she falter or become impatient with me. Funding was explained to me professionally and carefully, leaving me feeling comfortable with the journey I was about to embark on, as I could not pay up front for my class. Once everything was said and done with the admissions process, I was a little sad that I would not be speaking to Carolyn again, since she was such a wonderfully pleasant introduction to my experience at EFA. Funding: Part of my tuition was paid for by the Cares Act, and this was a significant reason as to why I choose EFA as my bootcamp in the first place. The rest of it was covered by a PISA agreement, which was something I had never heard of previously, but upon its explanation made a tremendous amount of sense to me and added to my confidence in my choice of bootcamps. Cares Act is over, I believe, however, I know for certain that EFA has a variety of options to help students fund their education. Class: I went through the Full Time Cybersecurity program. Wow. Just wow. I was assigned pre-work to do the week before class even started! I thought to myself, "Crazy, class hasn't evens started and I am already being bossed around." Boy, was I glad that I was. The intensity of class was nothing like I had experienced before. During Gold Badge, we focused on material covered on the CompTIA Net+ certification. Come to find out, this was just teaching us the vocabulary to operate in the security sphere of IT. Coming from a place where I did not know the difference between a Switch and a Router, this was the best way we could have been introduced to the material. Since this was the foundation of everything to come, hitting it hard and early helped me, personally, prepare and understand how to perform in class. During Blue Badge, the Cybersecurity portion of the program, we were given new instructors for new lessons and were introduced to TryHackMe, a tool that is used to practice hands-on cybersecurity scenarios and situations in a learning-friendly environment. This helped give us opportunities to practice things we learned during the theoretical portion of class. One of the Learning Instructors even held out of hours meet ups to go over security procedures and walk students through "boxes", security challenges, which furthered our practice and real-world understanding of these concepts. Finally, in Red Badge, training was over and we, the students, were thrown into the mix of a day-in-the-life of a real-world SOC analyst. In Red Badge, instead of classwork we had work-work. We were put into "The Range", a simulator that allows us to experience the "14 Worst Days of a SOC Analysts Life". Here we were let loose and had to defend a corporate network from a multitude of cyber-attacks, with the end of the day having to draft a report for the days' work, as practice for what is to come in the real world. It is the closest most people will get to engaging in a real-time cyber-attack, and we got to train on it as students!! Class time though was seriously fast paced and chalk full of information, and if you were not careful, you could easily fall behind. Personally, I think Net+ could have used another weeks' worth of class time, as it is a ton of material to cover. There were times when classmates and I would talk about concern over the pace of things.
Curriculum: All the material covered is Industry Standard. I have no problems with what was taught or why. Net+/Sec+ are entry level certification within the industry and attempting to study and train for them myself would have cost years of my life, time that I just did not have. Being in an environment that structured the learning in a time-sensitive manner helped me more than I ever would have thought possible. It is hard to argue with what is being taught, when what is being taught is what is used throughout the industry. Standard certifications mean just that, "This is what is expected of you". Which made decisions easier for me. Now I do not have to wade through the tons of certifications out there that are similar, but not the same, AND there is someone there to walk me through things I don't understand? This part was an easy decision for me. They instruct what people with the jobs want. Simple as that.
Instructors: Like in school, not every instructor is the best teacher you have ever had, however, there is a theme with the instructors that I thought was great and really helped give me faith in the program. Regardless of the teaching experience or tech experience, all the Instructors and LA's I had were excited to be there and, in a position, to help others transition into tech from outside the sphere. One of my LA's was a former Green Bay Packer, a pro-football player, and every time I had a question, he would pull me into a breakout room and walk me through it until I understood what's what. Another instructor had been teaching Gold Badge for almost two years and was so incredibly knowledgeable I could not ask a question he did not have an answer for. Then I met MJ and Hunter. These two men know more about information security than I did about breathing, the best part, I got to learn from them. I had a great interaction with every instructor, and LA I had the opportunity to meet with. Life is imperfect and I understand that this cannot be the case for everyone all the time. This is just my experience. Job Support: I reached out to my Career Services Advisor, Niki, the day my class got into Red Badge and was immediately blown away by how helpful she was. Again, I know not everyone has had this experience, but I spoke to Niki once or twice a day for those first two weeks and every other day after that until I had three positions wanting to ask me for second interviews. Here is where my story may differ from most. I was asked to apply for a position as a Cybersecurity Research Learning Assistant at EFA. Once I submitted my application, Niki told me she could no longer help me, as I was currently being considered by the company she worked for. This made total sense to me, and I saw no reason to hold it against her, and as she went above and beyond to help me, I had a fantastic experience with career services. Things are never perfect and going to an online bootcamp is no exception. There were miscommunications and things I found to be laughably silly, but in the end, I graduated from the bootcamp as part of the top of my cohort, having been awarded the Leadership Core Value Award, being able to walk into a job teaching other people skills to change their lives. Currently I work as an Operations and Marketing Consultant for Eleven Fifty helping to carry on the mission of teaching a million people to code in ten years and helping to develop tech talent in the state of Indiana. Eleven Fifty Academy changed my life.