By Shaun Kelley, August 2015
When I was gearing up for my first semester at Utica College, I was in constant contact with my program manager, John Hahn. Your program manager may not be in the cyber field, but they can be very useful to you starting off. They are your first point of contact; so use them! John would send me multiple articles that he came across that previous students had told him were useful. This was especially helpful to get a head start on reading, because reading will be a major part of the program. If there was any advice I could have given myself back then, it would have been to take 1-2 hours every day to sit down and read something related to cybersecurity (newspaper, internet article, white papers, etc.). Technology is constantly changing and evolving. It is very important in this field to stay ahead of the game, so you are ready to tackle the next big thing.
A friendly word of advice about the first semester. The first class is meant to get everyone up to the same level. Do not get discouraged at the amount of knowledge you don't know compared to others. By the end of CYB 605, you should have a low level understanding of the ways that the different tools work and how to apply them. Do not be afraid to ask questions, but before you do, utilize google. If you cannot find your answer on google, then ask questions. If you type your question or key words into google, most likely you will find a blog or forum regarding your question, as you are probably not the first person to ask it. See what others have responded to it or how they have gone about finding the answer. You will be surprised what is out there on the web.
One of the professors in the program, Vernon McCandlish gave a piece of advice that we often take for granted, but it helped a lot when making it through his class. He said "Don't panic". If you find yourself panicking during the program, step away from your computer and do something else for a couple of hours. Come back to it later with a fresh mind and you may see things from a different perspective. Make sure you give yourself ample time to attempt each of the labs so that if you run into issues, you have more than enough time to ask for help without being late on assignments. Just remember, no one is perfect. We are all human. If something comes up, talk to your professors, who are also human. If you give them enough notice, they have an opportunity to work with you to get you the help or extension on an assignment that you need. *Saturday at 11:50 PM with a due date of Midnight on Saturday into Sunday is not the time to ask for an extension* ☺
About the Author
Shaun Kelley is from Pearl River, New York. He enrolled in the Utica College Cybersecurity Masters program in the Fall of 2013 after graduating from SUNY Cortland in May of 2013. He currently lives in the Metro Detroit Area in Michigan and works for KPMG's Forensic Technology practice. He was able to get a job in the field from the networking he did as a Utica College student. Since joining KPMG, he has been able to use the skills he developed in this program, (both technical and social), to solve real world problems in the workplace. In his spare time, he enjoys going to sporting events (Football, Baseball, Hockey, Soccer, Lacrosse).