Hacking To The Top: Graduate Gains Skills In Cybersecurity
Five months of investment propelled Rodney Dennis’ career into the world of cybersecurity. Now, with his certificates in hand, he aims to make an impact in the field.
“My goal was to gain [knowledge] that I could use within the profession that would set me apart from other people who are just like me,” Rodney said.
With this mindset, he enrolled in the newly launched Ethical Hacker Certificate program while also enrolled in the Information Systems Security Professional certificate. He completed both programs this summer.
Rodney currently works as a network administrator for AppZoro Technologies – an Atlanta-based company with a focus on mobile app development and web solutions. He has been with the company since its founding, holding several roles ranging from design and business development to human resources and UX/UI design. In addition to his role at AppZoro, Rodney’s entrepreneurial spirit has also led him to take on several contracting roles. He even led his own startup company, Share Place, before joining AppZoro.
As he delved into cybersecurity, Rodney took his mentor’s advice on professional education. His mentor recommended CPE as a resource to gain additional skills and insight. In the summer of 2017, Rodney attended Open House, a biannual event for the public to explore the professional, executive and community programs available.
He credits the sense of “community” as one of the leading factors in his decision to pursue both certificate programs, namely hearing about the success stories of graduates and meeting instructors. He said, “Seeing that [the instructors] were professionals in the industry was a huge factor.”
The certificate programs at CPE gave him the opportunity to train and learn in a collaborative environment, fitting for his “hands-on” style of learning. With the demand of two classes, Rodney made the decision to limit his contracting workload while he was earning his certificates.
“To be successful in something [you] have to fully immerse yourself in it,” Rodney said. “I felt that I was actually doing myself a favor.”
In the Ethical Hacker program, Rodney learned how to lead an organization to optimal network safety by identifying weaknesses in target systems. The ISSP program gave Rodney the tools he needed to recognize security threats, manage potential security risks, and enforce security in target systems.
“The way the industry evolves is very rapid,” Rodney said. “You have people who are hacking networks, trying to hack networks and working hard every day to defend networks; so there’s this constant evolution of two sides.”
After completing both programs, he dedicated several hours of study before taking and passing the Certified Ethical Hacker exam. His preparation process included reviewing notes and completing numerous practice exams. In September, Rodney passed the exam at 92 percent. He is now a Certified Ethical Hacker, currently preparing for the ISSP certification exam.
For those aspiring to enter the cybersecurity field, Rodney said, “Dream it, put in that effort, and do what you need to do.” His key to success is to “do something that other people aren’t doing.”
“If you see everybody going in one direction, go in the other direction,” Rodney said. “Go after certifications and try to get experience. That is key. [Experience] provides you opportunities, gets you in the room, and once you get there you have to talk about all that. That is when certifications come in handy. You can set yourself apart from other people.”