Campus Philly events often lead to serendipitous connections, spurring new ideas, relationships, and ways of thinking.
At a recent Campus Philly networking event, Deb Kliman, Vice President of HR at Sabre Systems, Inc., met a student from Chestnut Hill College with a unique certification on their resume: the Security Plus Certification. This certification validates the baseline skills needed to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career.
Learn all about this certification, and hear from Alissa Cielecki, an Arcadia student who participated in the program, below!
How did your college experience and classes prepare you for this certification?
“I started working on campus at the IT helpdesk at the beginning of my sophomore year. This gave me a great foundation for a lot of the broad concepts covered by the certification! Though most of my studying was done after we’d moved off campus, my experience working at the helpdesk helped me mentally link terms and ideas to real-life applications employed at Arcadia.
Of course, my computer science classes were also very helpful, especially the Operating Systems and Network Security classes I was taking while studying. These classes gave me an awareness of important exam components like command line tools and vulnerability assessment, as well as hands-on experience working with those components.”
How did you find out about the Security Plus Certification?
“I heard of CompTIA’s certifications through informal presentations and conversations about entering the security field but knew almost nothing about the Security+ until my professor, Dr. Vitaly Ford, brought it up to my Network Security class this winter. He told us there was an opportunity for students to receive a voucher to take the exam for free and, me being interested in the field, I jumped on the idea and started studying immediately. I still wasn’t completely aware of what the certification would mean for me, but it seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Why were you interested in getting this certification?
“I’ve been interested in security for a while now, but started out without any idea where to begin studying. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Cyber League, a collegiate cybersecurity competition, in both the fall and spring of this past school year with my fellow classmates.
This gave me a great jump start, and I’ve been looking for new ways to learn and get even more experience ever since. The Security+ really gave me a good template to study up on topics relevant to my field of interest, which is great for someone like me who thrives on structure but sometimes needs a little push in the right direction.”
How will this certification benefit you in your career?
“This certification is meant to prove a baseline of the IT security knowledge necessary to carry out functions in an entry-level security-related role. For me, I’m hoping that having this on my resume will show employers not only that I have some security knowledge, but also that I’m willing to put the effort in to prove that.
I also hope that it will help me springboard into the field with some confidence in myself and my abilities, and I’ll also be more likely to pursue other certifications in the future now if the need arises.”
What roles would you like to pursue after you’ve graduated?
“I’m open to opportunities! The general entry-level role I’m currently looking at is an information security analyst/cybersecurity analyst, but my top goal is to get my foot in the door, especially at a company that does security consultation. IT roles and those related to networking are also really valuable for gaining experience and exposure to the information security landscape.”
If you could offer one piece of advice to a college freshman, what would it be?
“Ask lots of questions and do it early. Many of us come into college without much world experience. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what’s important to know and do when it comes to your career, or when to do it. College provides a wonderful structure for you to connect with others who have gone through the exact things you’ll be going through, and people want to help!
Ask your upperclassmen what classes they found most valuable, see if your professors know of any opportunities to get experience outside of the classroom, and go to that networking event to ask recruiters about how to become a strong applicant for the companies you’re interested in. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not alone. People are here to help, so take advantage!”
Do you have any tips or advice to offer students who are looking to build their resume this summer?
“This summer is a rough one for so many students who were looking forward to resume-building internships, research, and jobs that were cancelled due to the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean this summer has to be a ghost on your resume! If you were accepted to a program or internship that was cancelled, you can still market that by including the acceptance in your resume. Or, if you’re simply left with too much time on your hands right now, use the time to develop a skill or learn about something important to you.
There are tons of free online learning resources for students, or you can take on a project you never had time for before. Employers love to see that sort of initiative and motivation, and you’re likely to pick up a few things to add to your resume along the way. “