Wow! What a wonderful, whirlwind week we just had in Nashville, Tenn., home of the Grand Ole Opry, tasty victuals and a heapin’ helpin’ of Southern hospitality. We also had a passel of IT certification talk with hundreds of really sharp instructors and CTE directors.
We’uns (that’s a bit of Deep South lingo for “me and my TestOut brothers,” Paul and Travis) were in town for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) conference. NICE, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce, is a partnership between government, academia, and the private sector focused on cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development.
For a couple of days, we pressed the flesh and shared our thoughts on the importance of certifications with everyone in reach. The message that came through loud and clear is that we all need cybersecurity training, and quick. The consensus is that, by 2020, the industry will be short 2 million needed cybersecurity professionals! Fortunately, the Federal Government is making a big effort to offer guidance and support to states and municipalities to implement NICE’s recommended cybersec practices.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student, a homebody, or a state government — cybersecurity is for everyone. One instructor told how he took his class to a dentist’s office and had them evaluate that oral health practitioner’s IT-security. The objective, besides gaining some practical experience, was to show the students how everyone, including dentists, need cybersecurity.
One evening we ate at the famous Monell’s, an antebellum style manor featuring Southern classics and comfort foods piled high on serving plates and served family style — you take a seat with others you don’t know, start passing the bowls to your left, and dig in. Everything was delicious, especially the chicken. That was the the best chicken I’ve ever eaten!
Monell’s motto is, “Enter as Strangers, leave as Friends,” and that’s what we did. During our dinner conversation, we learned that all the people at our table had some connection to cybersecurity, including a young man with several certs under his belt.
After leaving NICE, we moved on over to another great conference, Career Tech VISION, sponsored by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). ACTE is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association, committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers, and we had the opportunity to present on the importance of IT certifications for students and IT-related career pathways.
There were thousands in attendance at ACTE and lots of interest in certifications, along with plenty of buzz about TestOut training courses. We visited with instructors from one school who had originally planned not to attend because they were too busy with their classes. Once their CTE director realized what we would be presenting, however, she on her own arranged for substitutes and sent the regular instructors to the conference.
Speaking with so many instructors and curriculum developers made me realize two things: 1) that cybersecurity is really all about basic networking and security skills and, 2) that there aren’t any basic cybersec-specific courses. The good news is that TestOut courseware provides a great foundation to build on for A+, Network+ and Security+.
During our time in Nashville we tried a few more local eateries including Hattie B’s for some “Damn Hot” chicken, and the world-famous Waffle House. The food at each place was tasty and filling and while stuffing myself, I realized that IT is a lot like cooking — they are both art forms. Sure, you can read a recipe or follow a set certification path, but ultimately, it all comes down to how much of yourself you put into the process. When preparing a dish, you wouldn’t skimp on ingredients. So, too, with your IT skills. And TestOut courseware offers a well-stocked pantry to get you started.
About the Author — Wendy Edwards started out as a Sales Assistant with TestOut Corporation more than seven years ago. Two years ago, her excellent customer service earned her a spot on the coveted K-12 Accounts Sales Team. While raising 3 children, Wendy received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University. Her passion is running — anywhere from 5Ks to marathons, but her favorite is the relay race. She is also an awe-inspiring three-time winner of TestOut’s Halloween Costume Contest. (Overall, Funniest, and Scariest)