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NexGenT’s Head of Career Service, Sam Stuber

NexGenT’s Head of Career Service, Sam Stuber

Sam Stuber heads NexGenT’s Career Service and Journey team (which she refers to as, “The Dream Team” as the teams’ goal is to help every student land their dream job). As the head of the Dream Team, Sam works with her all-star Career Service and Success Coaches to ensure that every student succeeds and lands their dream job.

Sam is driven by her belief that a good education is the key to a successful life. This makes her passionate about revolutionizing higher education to make it more accessible and affordable to all. 

Prior to NexGenT, Sam started a company that helped students afford higher education through scholarships and crowdfunding. During this time, Sam helped over 200 students gain access to scholarships that allowed them to attain a post-secondary education. Sam also worked as a Career and College counselor, helping over 4000 students navigate the uncertain time in their life from transitioning out of high school into college or their first career. 

Sam has a certificate in Career Planning and College Admissions from the University of California, Berkeley. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and a minor in English from California State University Fullerton (Go Titans!). 

A fun fact about Sam is that her goal is to go to every national park in the U.S.!


About NexGenT Career Service

Our NexGenT Career Service team works with you to develop your job attainment skills. We do this by first analyzing your individual strengths and weaknesses to build a custom career development plan. Your job success is so important that we dedicate a Career Success Coach to meet with you 1:1 to ensure you’re on track to reach your personal goals. Your Career Success Coach works with you to master each career milestone of a professional resume, cover letter, IT or cybersecurity interview preparation, a professional LinkedIn profile, and ultimately, a job and career success plan.

We look forward to helping you level up and achieve your career goals!

If you aren’t already a student, apply for NexGenT’s Full Stack Network Engineer program hereor NexGenT’s Cyber Security Specialist program here!

How to Find an IT Job During a Pandemic

How to Find an IT Job During a Pandemic

There are great opportunities, even in a crisis

With the outbreak of the Corona Virus forcing nearly 13% of the US population out of work through furloughs and layoffs, many are in a panic to find new jobs. While the announcement of millions of jobs lost is troubling, there is still hope in landing a stable IT job.

Because many IT roles can be done remotely, and their work is essential in keeping businesses digitally functioning and safe, there are still great hiring efforts for IT professionals. So, how do you find an IT job during a pandemic? 

Work your network

With all of the amazing job boards and tech tools for job seekers, networking is still the most efficient way to score an interview. Don’t keep your job search a secret. Let your network know that you are looking for an IT job and the type of industry you were interested in. 

While networking digitally, LinkedIn is an excellent tool to check in with your network and ask about positions that may be available. Also, consider community groups or IT forums on sites like Reddit, Facebook groups and even public Slack Channels

In community groups, you will be in forums with professionals with a similar skill set to troubleshoot ideas, fine-tune your skills and talk shop. They’re also a great resource to find out about opportunities and to talk about your job search. In many IT Forums, they often have a “jobs”thread where they will post about job openings and let job-seeking group members ask for help on their career search.

Get your resume in shape

A hiring manager or recruiter spends on average just 6 seconds looking at a resume before they decide to read on or reject a resume. Even if you have excellent experience and skills, if your resume is lackluster in any way it will get ignored, and with some Application Tracking Systems (ATS) an untailored resume may get rejected. 

To make your resume more appealing, be sure to use job descriptions as your guide. Your resume should contain the requirements and job responsibilities listed on the job description that you possess so that you appear aligned to the position. Words that are used consistently on a job description are likely a “keyword”, which is a word that an ATS will scan to put you at the top of the candidate list as a good match. 

A few other quick resume tips:

  • Lead your resume with a strong skill section.
  • Keep your resume to 1-2 pages maximum.
  • Highlight your experience gained through your certifications.
  • Keep all information relevant to the job you are applying for, but remove anything that does not support your first job.

Connect with IT Recruiters 

A recruiter can be your secret weapon in getting the job you want. You can find recruiters who specialize in placing IT professionals by doing a search of IT recruiting agencies in your area or through doing a LinkedIn search for “IT Recruiter”. 

Once you make the connection, keep in mind that Recruiters are currently being bogged down now more than ever so they may not get to you as quickly as you may hope. A Recruiter’s #1 goal is to get a position filled, not help candidates find positions, but sometimes your goals can align if you nurture the relationship.

To keep the connection fresh, make sure that you are giving, not just asking for help finding a job. Share one of their job postings within your network or let them know about something industry-related that you think may appeal to them. 

Choose companies in industries that are stable

Right now it’s important to stick to industries that are not only stable during these uncertain times but are actually thriving. Currently, the healthcare (and HealthIT) shipping, online learning, grocery, and communication industries are hiring despite the pandemic, along with a good number of technology companies. 

All of these companies need IT professionals to keep them functional online, connected and secure for their end-users and customers.  

Before choosing a company, take a look at how they are handling the COVID19 crisis both for their customers and their employees. Not only will this help you figure out if the company culture is a fit for you, but it’s also something that consumers are considering when they make purchases.

Check big (and small) job boards

Large job boards like Indeed and Ziprecruiter are great places to have your resume and start your search, but also take a look at smaller, more niche job boards where you’ll have fewer candidates to compete with for jobs. 

Check out sites like Angel List, PowertoFly, Remote.io, Flexjobs, and your alumni’s (if you have one) job boards. 

If you are not seeing much available in your city, be sure to also check for remote positions as the distance may not be an issue for many IT roles. 

Stay positive

While the job search may seem daunting, there are still plenty of great opportunities out there, especially in IT that are just waiting for you to apply. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and always put your best skills forwards. 

Happy hunting!

EXPLAINED: IT Job Security Clearances – An Expert Reveals the Secrets

EXPLAINED: IT Job Security Clearances – An Expert Reveals the Secrets

Everything you ever wanted to know about security clearance IT jobs (including sponsorship) but were too afraid to ask…

What do cops, members of the security services, and systems engineers have in common? All of these jobs often require a security clearance. So do network engineers, software architects, and even coders. 

The number of IT jobs that require clearance might surprise you. Often, it’s not the job itself, but the organization hiring you for the job. Database administrators who work for the military, for example, require clearance. Database administrators working for private companies might not. Most government agencies, who are super-paranoid about national security, require clearance before you even pull up a chair at the IT desk. 

One thing’s for sure: More IT roles require clearance than ever before. Nine percent of all job listings ask for clearance, and 50 percent of these positions are in the digital tech sector. A growing number of organizations require candidates to have clearance before applying for the role, but it’s not clear how many applicants do. 

Recently, in our Meet the Mentor webinar series, we spoke to senior cybersecurity engineer Dereck Watters, who provided us with some valuable insights into the top-secret world of security clearance. 

In this guide, you’re going to discover the following:

  • What kind of jobs require clearance.
  • The four different levels of clearance.
  • How to get your clearance sponsored. 
  • The different ways to obtain clearance.
  • How to pass a clearance.
  • Other insights from cybersecurity expert Dereck Watters. 

Let’s Clear Up Some Things About Clearance

A security clearance isn’t something you can pay for. Or study for. You need to earn it, the hard way. Think of it as a badge of honor. A medal that proves you can protect classified information. You’re a genuine “keeper of secrets.” Someone who won’t snitch, no matter what.

There’s a huge shortage of people who have the technical abilities to perform a job with clearance. But Watters tells us that, once you earn clearance, you’ll be made for life.

“You’re pretty much guaranteed a job,” he says. “Put your resume on Indeed, and a thousand people are going to call you.”

Because there’s such a small pool of job candidates with the required clearance for some jobs, employers are willing to pay big bucks.

“Once you get that established under your name, you’re pretty much guaranteed a position from the Department of Defense or the Navy or the Air Force.”

The federal government views clearance as a prerequisite for most jobs that protect national security. So many government agencies have been burned in recent years — data breaches, like those at the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Energy, and Department of Veterans Affairs have become commonplace — so now candidates need the right security credentials to preserve the country’s biggest secrets. 

It’s important to note that there isn’t just one type of security clearance, but four:

  • Confidential: For people that could cause damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization. 
  • Secret: For people that could cause serious damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization.
  • Top secret: For people that could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization. 
  • Sensitive compartmented information: For people who could access information concerning sensitive intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes. 

Once you’ve got clearance, you’re good for 15 years (10 years for secret clearance; five years for top-secret clearance). This means, in most instances, you won’t have to apply for clearance again for a whole decade or more.

There are a whole host of jobs that require some kind of clearance, especially in the government. Even if your job role has nothing to do with national security — “I’m just a software engineer,” you say — some agencies still require clearance, and not much you can do about it.

Some of the agencies that require clearance:

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Security Service
  • Department of Defense
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Security Agency
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • State Department
  • United States Agency for International Development

Recommended reading: Why now’s a great time to consider a new career in cybersecurity

How to Get Your Clearance Sponsored

Unfortunately, clearance costs money — lots of it. It costs between $3,000 and $15,000 to gain top-secret clearance; however, the feds will sometimes cover the cost for civilian government employees and military personnel. This is called “sponsorship.” The good news: Once you’ve gained clearance from the government, you can use it for any job that requires it — yes, even private companies. 

Watters tells us there are four main ways to get your clearance sponsored:

  • Military
  • College
  • Part-time employment
  • Contracts

Military

This is the easiest way. Visit your nearest military processing center, and pick a military occupation code (MOS) that requires clearance. You can apply for this occupation, and the government will sponsor your clearance. It’s that simple. Just make sure you’re fit and healthy, and you have the correct scores for the role.

“You don’t have to do active military duty,” says Watters. “You could do the reserves if you don’t have much time. Or even the National Guard.”

College

Many colleges have government-sponsored programs that will pay for studies and security clearance. Sure, you’ll have to work for the government for a couple of years when you graduate (or pay a fee), but this can be a quick way to gain clearance if you don’t have the money. 

“Essentially, if you’re going for a STEM tech degree either in cybersecurity, system engineering, or electrical engineering, they will pay for your school, and they sponsor you for your clearance,” says Watters. “This is a quick way to get into a government position without actually putting on the uniform.”

Word of warning: There are specific time slots for when you can apply for these programs, so plan ahead. 

Part-time employment

There are jobs out there that will sponsor your clearance, but they won’t always be in IT. You could apply for a security job or a similar role and get sponsorship. Just look on Monster. Or USAJobs

“You could do this part-time,” adds Watters. “This gives you flexibility, and you get your clearance.” 

Contracts

Watters recommends that you look at how contracts are written for government contractors:

“If the government’s looking for a network engineer, some of the requirements are pretty weird. They will probably want you to have a CCNA, but they may also ask for a Microsoft server cert.”

It seems like a catch-all, but once you get to the interview stage, it’s a different story:  

“If you can hit some of those checkboxes — not all, but some of them — they might really like you and start the paperwork and clearance process. They will put the contract on hold until you are through clearance. The people interviewing you aren’t actually the people who write the contract.”

Recommended reading: From IT administrator to network engineer, check out our interview with Chris Mickinnis here.

How to Pass Clearance

Now comes the scary part. You might think there are skeletons in your closet, but your past isn’t always a huge deal. 

“We all have stuff in our past that we’re probably not too proud of but organizations are just looking for the things that you’re trying to keep secret from them,” says Watters. “Listen, most people think that because they smoked when they were 19, they are going to be disqualified. Investigators are not worried about anything like that. What they’re really concerned with is if you are a person that can be trusted with classified documents.”

The same goes for debt:

“They’re not looking for 800 credit scores. What they’re looking for is a person that’s trustworthy.”

A $50,000 debt in Guatemala that you didn’t disclose in your application? Potential red flag. A $4,000 debt for a TV from Best Buy? No problem.

“It’s hard to get people through the security clearance process because you need patience, and you have to have the honesty and integrity to put everything on paper. They are going to cycle through your life.”

How Long Does It Take?

How long is a piece of string? Clearance for government jobs can take anywhere from 3-6 months (and 6-18 months for top-secret clearance), and this process starts from the moment you turn in your Standard Form 86 — the document the government uses to “cycle through your life.” 

Once you’ve submitted Form 86, human resources will submit your details to the State Department’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability, and this is where everything springs into action. Things will move quickly, at first. 

  • Someone will carry out a National Agency Check (NAC). It’s like a criminal record and credit check rolled into one, with searches covering your residence, employment, and education locations over the last 7 years. 
  • Someone will scan your fingerprints.
  • Someone will search the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigative index.

Then, you won’t hear anything for weeks. Maybe months. Eventually, a case manager will be assigned to your case, and you’ll be invited to an interview. This can be tough. The investigator will verify all the information you provided in your Form 86. Be prepared to answer questions, lots of questions. 

Where did you work? Where did you live? Where did you go to school? 

What do your parents do for work? Where did your parents live? Where did your parents go to school?

Investigators can check this information with law enforcement agencies, employers, and even school principals. No stone unturned.

It’s an exhausting process. 

“Look, if you can explain your background, then they are there OK with it,” says Watters. “As long as you can articulate why you have that much money, or why your wife is from there or husband from there, it’s fine.” 

After your interview, the investigator will weigh your results against security clearance guidelines. You’ll be notified of your results in the mail.

Now you play the waiting game.

Ask a Security Expert

In our Meet the Mentor webinar with Derick Watters, our students had some security clearance questions of their own…

How does a veteran get inside info about Department of Defense contracts?

“The biggest one is definitely word of mouth. If you see anyone on LinkedIn, just talk to them. Ask about open positions. Ask about clearance. Ask about sponsorship.”

What happens at the end of federal contracts?

“When the contract ends, they have to let you know. They have to discuss it with you up-front during the interview. Of course, you have to look for another position if the contract ends, but they need people with clearance so bad they will often keep you.”

What’s the most difficult thing about the clearance process?

“I have to get checked every 5 years. You know, sit down with somebody to explain why I bought a new house or car. I have to put my wife’s name down so she can get checked. Tell them about my family members. You have to get used to giving up a little bit of your privacy.”

Want to become a cybersecurity specialist in as little as 400 hours? Our technical skills, foundational concepts, and hands-on labs will land you that entry-level cybersecurity role you’ve dreamed about. Apply now

NexGenT Welcomes Michael LaMarche, Career Success Coach

NexGenT Welcomes Michael LaMarche, Career Success Coach

Michael is a Career Services and Success Coach who comes to NexGenT with professional recruiting experience and a background in higher education career services. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in Employee Relations and a Master’s in Organizational Performance and Technology from SUNY Potsdam.

Michael started the first seven of his fourteen-year career journey in the recruiting field in industries including healthcare, investment banking, IT, engineering, and consulting. Michael’s greatest achievement in the corporate sector was the placement of 1,100 employees during his tenure, which earned him a national ranking for his high level of successful employee placement. He then transitioned into higher education and joined Syracuse University. Over a seven-year career span, Michael had a very successful career. He was formerly the Director of Career Services which had oversight of 11 schools and colleges for 20,000+ students. His primary responsibility was developing strategic initiatives that would improve the student experience, increase retention rates, build corporate partnerships, and improve job placement outcomes. During his time at Syracuse University, he set three university records by achieving an 85% job placement rate for graduating classes of 3,300 students in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Michael is extremely passionate about working with students and assisting them in achieving their career goals. His general philosophy is that he addresses each student individually so that he can help meet their specific needs and goals. He listens to their thoughts, works with them to pave new opportunities, and guides and supports students in developing a successful career path. In this way, he serves as a coach, mentor, and knowledgeable resource that works to maximize each individual’s potential for a successful future.

A fun fact about Michael is that he wrestled during his younger years. After seven months of training, he decided to skip his high school graduation to participate in the National High School Championships where he successfully placed 2nd and earned All-American status.


About NexGenT Career Service

Our NexGenT Career Service team works with you to develop your job attainment skills. We do this by first analyzing your individual strengths and weaknesses to build a custom career development plan. Your job success is so important that we dedicate a Career Success Coach to meet with you 1:1 to ensure you’re on track to reach your personal goals. Your Career Success Coach works with you to master each career milestone of a professional resume, cover letter, IT or cybersecurity interview preparation, a professional LinkedIn profile, and ultimately, a job and career success plan.

We look forward to helping you level up and achieve your career goals!

If you aren’t already a student, apply for NexGenT’s Full Stack Network Engineer program here or NexGenT’s Cyber Security Specialist program here!

NexGenT Welcomes Noelle Johnson, Career Success Coach

NexGenT Welcomes Noelle Johnson, Career Success Coach

Noelle Johnson is a NexGenT’s all-star Career Services and Success Coach, obsessed with helping job seekers get job offers. She has a background working for tech advocacy groups like CompTIA and the Future of Privacy Forum which has allowed her opportunities to work alongside some of the biggest tech companies in the world.

Prior to her time at NexGenT, Noelle was running an interview coaching company that focused on helping job transitioners get the coaching and resources they needed to secure job offers, writing, and doing public speaking on career-related topics. She has helped hundreds of people all over the world secure amazing jobs through her content and coaching. She has written for and has been quoted by various news outlets such as Forbes, Fast Company, Glassdoor, PowertoFly, and Cameron Diaz’ Our Body Book. 


What drives Noelle in career coaching is her mission to change the statistic that shows that 70% of people don’t like their job. She believes that everyone deserves to have a job where they feel valued, challenged, and balanced and seeks to help as many people as possible get into a position where they love what they do. Noelle’s favorite part of career coaching is seeing a student go from an uncertain career path to getting a job offer so good it makes her want to do a dance right along with her student!


When Noelle isn’t geeking out over resume formats and new LinkedIn functions, you can find her watching action movies, writing or debating about comic book characters with her preschooler.


About NexGenT Career Service

Our NexGenT Career Service team works with you to develop your job attainment skills. We do this by first analyzing your individual strengths and weaknesses to build a custom career development plan. Your job success is so important that we dedicate a Career Success Coach to meet with you 1:1 to ensure you’re on track to reach your personal goals. Your Career Success Coach works with you to master each career milestone of a professional resume, cover letter, IT or cybersecurity interview preparation, a professional LinkedIn profile, and ultimately, a job and career success plan.

We look forward to helping you level up and achieve your career goals!

If you aren’t already a student, apply for NexGenT’s Full Stack Network Engineer program here or NexGenT’s Cyber Security Specialist program here!