Last week here at NexGenT we congratulated our very first Cyber Security Specialist cohort for passing their skills qualification check and becoming certified as a NexGenT Cyber Security Associate (NCSA)! The cohort began on March 23rd 2020 with 23 students graduating from their technical training this past August.
Out of the 23 graduates who now hold an NCSA certification, 3 are now also CompTIA Security+ certified and 3 others have already landed their first job in the industry, some even with little to no experience prior to joining the program. That is what project-based learning and real-world skills training will get you! Several other students from the cohort also already have job interviews lined up which they feel very confident about.
We spoke to Roberto Buenrostro, NCSA #0025, about his experience completing the program. When he signed up for the Zero To Engineer, Cyber Security Specialist program from NexGenT, he was working an array of part-time positions unrelated to IT but had a couple certifications such as CompTIA Net+ and A+. He quickly realized that certifications look great on paper, but what was missing from his resume was hands-on skills and knowledge. “A lot of other schools give you theoretical knowledge but NexGenT gives you a lot of the hands-on practical knowledge to actually know what you’re doing.”
What’s The Program Like?
The ZTE programs are similar to that of an online bootcamp – getting straight to the meaty topics, getting hands-on knowledge and skills, and working projects instead of theory. Over the span of 22 weeks (on a 20 hour per week schedule), the program focused on 4 weeks of network fundamentals and network security, 9 weeks of core cyber security skills, and 8 final weeks of practical skills vetted inside a robust cyber range. Students had a substantial amount of engagement with ransomware, botnets, and various red team / blue team scenarios. By the final weeks, they were launching backdoor shells, gaining access into remote administrative servers, and proving their ability to mitigate these same attacks.
To become NCSA certified, students are required to do more than just a fill in the blank. They must complete and pass a military inspired skills qualification check (SQC) where they are required to perform a checklist of skills. The cyber SQC mimicked 2 cyber range scenarios including stopping exfiltration of banking data, and using snort rules to identify and remove malware from an office network. To be able to identify an attack, find the root source, delete, and prevent takes a lot of work and the students were successfully able to handle these challenges thrown at them. It was a great journey to see them level up their skills and become cyber rockstars!
Our second and third Cyber Security Specialist cohorts have also recently launched on May 22nd and July 17th 2020, respectively, and our fourth will launch on September 18th 2020. To learn more about becoming a cyber security professional and getting high-quality training with zero upfront costs, click here.
You know the routine. The waning hours of the day, checking off support tickets, babysitting laptops, and working through the grey hued workday with a dispassionate weight on your chest. Your stepping stone into the industry has felt far to much like a landing stone and after all this time it’s no longer new and exciting. You can guess what will happen tomorrow and the day after that. You know what’s expected of you when working help desk, and you meet it with resignation.
Working the help desk can make you think that there’s nothing else to IT work and that you’ve seen it all one-hundred times over. We’re here to tell you that’s not true.
These 5 trailblazers are proof that there’s more for you after the help desk.
1. From Stuck in IT Support to Network Engineer
Chris Mendez was skeptical of NexGenT advertisements but willing to take a closer look and take a shot at breaking free from the mundane help desk. He developed an interest in learning about the back end of network engineering—a field that he was almost unaware of existed—and was fascinated by how different it was compared to his help desk position.
He landed a role that is worlds away from being deskside IT support. His days have taken on new perspectives, more responsibilities, and new opportunities to explore his passions and pursue a balanced life of traveling and security. He went from a small company servicing a few hundred people to working for his city and servicing thousands of people. It was an exciting jump in his career and a title that helped him increase his income and provide more for his family.
Chris found his freedom by breaking away from the help desk and is using it every day. If you are enrolled in the Zero To Engineer program, you are likely to virtually meet him as one of NexGenT’s alumni mentors.
2. The Change that Resulted in a Promotion After 20 Years
Al Minnigan had been in the IT field for 20 years when he finally decided to invest in his education and took the plunge into learning with NexGenT. He was sick of “babysitting laptops” as an IT field tech and was ready to challenge himself to learn more and go further in his IT career.
His initial reaction when he encountered the course was built off of common excuses: I don’t have enough time, I need to support my family, I’m too old to go back to school. With some tenacity and spousal support, Al took his shot and decided to sign up for NexGenT. “I underestimated my ability to learn more,” he tells us.
Al started taking initiative to help out in new areas of work and his boss took notice of the extra work he was putting in. When an IT networking position opened up that Al was interested in, his boss recognized his efforts and encouraged him to keep applying. Not long after, Al was promoted to a Network Operations Technician.
Al has adjusted extremely well to his new position, enjoys having his own desk set-up with multiple monitors, and being challenged on a daily basis.
3. From Miscellaneous IT Work to Having Security as a Network Engineer
Chris Mickinnis was in an unsustainable grind of miscellaneous IT work that drained him and made him feel frozen in time. He worked with a small company, wore many hats, and often had to be on-the-go. He knew that his job would not sustain him and his family for long and he needed to move on to something more promising within IT.
After watching a webinar from NGT founder, Terry Kim, he knew the Zero To Engineer program was his key to leveling up in IT. He created a schedule for himself to keep up with his self-study by playing the online course videos after his kids went to bed. He would even keep the videos on repeat while he was at work or in the midst of his commute to keep the information always fresh and flowing through his mind to help with retention and learning.
One day, he was working on a project with a manager from another company who had heard of this program that Chris Mickinnis was studying. The manager was impressed by the fact that Chris had chosen to invest in his education and recognized that he was a driven and pro-active person. He asked to remain in touch with Chris and reached out to offer him a position when an opening became available. Even better, his new position as a Network Engineer for Kirby Corp now allows him to work remotely.
“I just get a little crack grin every time I say it because I can’t believe it happened,” Chris says in reference to introducing himself as a Network Engineer.
It’s not always clear where to turn, what decisions to make when it comes to building a career you love and are proud of in IT. But it can be done, and with NexGenT, you can earn that state of pride and renewed enthusiasm for the work you do.
4. From 7 Years in the Comfort Zone to Cyber Security Engineer
Jonathan Flores only planned to be at Verizon for 6 months but stayed for 7 years.
“Thinking back now, I was very comfortable financially and avoided looking for another job because I didn’t want to shake-up my life. However, working 60-70 hours a week left no time for me to enjoy my personal life.”
Jonathan wasn’t fulfilled by working at Verizon, but it was safe and familiar. He recognized that he spent so much time working he became an absent spouse and father. He decided to do something about it and pursue a career change he didn’t think was possible. He was ready to start working to live and not living to work.
Zero to Engineer showed him the possibilities of a future in tech and he felt like he finally had a grasp on navigating the IT industry.
“I’ll never forget what Terry told me about how prepared I should be for interviews, ‘You have to be able to articulate things, make them tell you to stop’. Zero to Engineer gave me the IT knowledge I needed to think like a troubleshooter and helped me land a network tech role at Navy Federal.”
Today, Jonathon is still employed with Navy Federal credit union and has since been promoted to a Cyber Security Engineer. His future is bright.
5. From Tech Support to Network Administrator and a 20K Pay Bump
Nick Harvey was hungry for progress in his career and went on the hunt for a solution. He was looking for a different experience than his 8+ years in help desk and tech support—something new, a challenge.
He attempted Udemy courses, but it missed the mark. What he wanted was accountability and an active community where he could learn and grow in his new IT pursuits, while equipping himself with certifications that would get him IT jobs, and out of help desk.
He found his perfect fit in the IT training program when he joined the NexGenT family. When it came time for job hunting, Nick Harvey shared that though he didn’t have the “practical” IT networking experience, but working on the Full Stack Network Engineer (FSNE) project gave him the confidence and solid understanding to take on his new network administrator role. “I really think the networking project we did is the primary reason I got the job,” Harvey said.
Harvey is now a Network Administrator, making an extra $20,000 annually. A salary increase like this makes a big difference for him and his family.
What can this mean for you?
Change is hard. Routine is hard to break free from. However, if these 5 examples of students that broke free from the help desk and support are any indication, it’s worth the leap. It’s more than possible to break from your help desk comfort zone and from your easy routine to go after something bigger and more exciting.
If you see yourself in any of these stories, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team and learn about what your options are via the chatbox on our website. We’re ready and hoping to help you build an IT career you love in a way that provides lasting connections, and solid foundations.
Jumpstart your IT or cybersecurity career by applying in 5 minutes or less
We are excited to share with our NexGenT students and graduates a new employment program designed to help facilitate immersive experiential learning. This opportunity includes working full-time on-site as a member of a consulting team dedicated to supporting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Information Technology (IT) Operations and Network Engineering challenges. NexGenT is able to offer this employment opportunity in partnership with LeoRose Consulting and Booz Allen Hamilton, both prominent IT service providers to our national defense, civil and intelligence agencies.
With COVID-19, the ChooseVA reorganization effort, and the ever-present challenges associated with serving those who have served – now is a great time to be at the VA.
Quick Look at the IT and Cybersecurity Employment Opportunities
Employment type: Full-time W2; 40 hours expected
Length: 6-12 months with possible full-time employment offer with a company on the VA contract
Location: One of the 2000+ VA facilities (no long-distance travel or relocation)
When: On a rolling basis, the VA will be opening different job titles at different times. That being said, it is best to submit your application NOW to be considered first for any existing or potential job title that matches your desires and qualifications!
Predicted open job titles: Cyber Security Engineer, Program Analyst, Junior Program Analyst, Security Analyst, Security Technician, System Administrator, Senior System Administrator, Systems Engineer, and Junior Systems Engineer
Number of open positions: Unsure at this time, it could be up to hundreds if we have the qualifying students to fill the positions!
Throughout the program, candidates will work full-time (40 hours expected) with members of the 15 servicing companies as well as VA military & civilian staff to solve real-world challenges in all areas of IT, including:
Enterprise Network Management
Enterprise Application Services
Test & Evaluation (T&E)
Strategy and Planning
Requirements Development & Analysis
System and Data Migration
This opportunity has the potential of resulting in a full-time position with a company on the VA contract. It is also available for taking at any one of their 2000+ VA facilities around the US.
And one of the best parts: No relocation required thanks to their many facilities!
Ready to take the leap? Click here to apply now and to be considered for any of the potential job openings they will have now and in the future.
A Special Message for Veterans
Although this opportunity isn’t only for veterans, we’ve strategically partnered with LeoRose Consulting and Booz Allen Hamilton to honor our veterans. Both are prominent IT service providers to our national defense, civil, and intelligence communities. With COVID-19, the ChooseVA reorganization effort, and the ever-present challenges associated with serving those who have served – now is a great time to be at the VA.
Though we believe anyone can succeed in IT if they have the grit and passion for it, veterans are particularly apt to excel in such an opportunity as this.
IT and cybersecurity are natural next steps if you’re looking to change course out of the military or looking for a stable career you’ll be happy in. Take a moment to listen to what former marine Marcus Mapes had to say about his NexGenT decision.
NexGenT was founded by two Air Force veterans who trained thousands of personnel to be job-ready in only a couple of months. We bring that same military-style training philosophy and get our students job-ready in an expedited fashion without any B.S.
We believe that veterans are some of the best kinds of people for IT work: they know the importance of diligence, teamwork, and the weight of responsibility. They have experience in all three of those areas and then some.
How to Apply
Positions are OPEN NOW for 2000+ VA facilities across the US!
If you are not a NexGenT student or alumni, you may still apply for this opportunity if you have at least a few years of IT work experience or education. Candidates interested in being considered for any existing and future opportunities are encouraged to apply for the program by submitting a simple application and updated resume using this application link.
Note – please tailor your resume to an IT or cybersecurity role. Please include any relevant certifications you possess and include the month and year that you began and departed each position in the work experience section of the resume. If you are a student and need quick pointers or IT resume templates to help revise your resume, then please use NexGenT’s Career Service website here.
If you have any specific questions or if you would like to learn more about the program, you may reach out to Samantha Stuber, NexGenT Head of Career Services at email@example.com.
It’s another shift on the night crew. The last time they saw the sun, it was setting; the next time will be when it’s rising. Their muscles complain as they do their work, the strain across their shoulders is a familiar companion.
They’ve gotten accustomed to this schedule. Heavy lifting, operating machinery, the cold echo of the stone floors, the fluorescent lighting. A nocturnal life. When was the last time they kissed their partner goodbye over breakfast?
A lifestyle and taxing job on the body can only sustain so long. We can hear your inner thoughts begging for something new. But we get it–career changes can be daunting! It’s hard to figure out where to turn, where to look for an opportunity that will challenge you in new ways and provide a more sustainable future.
I.T. is a field that is always changing and adapting, and I like to think a little of that rubs off on those who take on the trade.
Adaptability will take you far. Let’s take a look at 6 game-changers who decided it was time to end their warehouse careers and learn how to break into I.T.
From a Chemical Operator constantly exposed to danger to an Operations Engineer at Google
Keron Taylor was working as a Chemicals Operator at BASF, one of the world’s largest chemical companies. His job included driving forklifts, unloading tankers, and running multiple chemical reactions, which regularly exposed him to danger. When Keron cracked his wrist in a non-work-related accident, it set him on a new path.
He was scrolling across Facebook, was caught by Terry’s webinar, and enrolled in the Zero to Engineer program right there. By Module 4, he gained the confidence to apply for entry-level I.T. jobs and landed a contract position with Modis as an Operations Engineer at Google. What he learned in Zero To Engineer was right at the front of his mind though all his interviews.
“My job duties went from putting my body in harm’s way to adding devices onto networks and porting fiber into racks. My routine is incredibly flexible now, and I’m constantly collaborating and working with employees across various teams.”
From Forklift Operator to Junior Network Administrator in 16 months
Daniel Adams came from a position as a forklift operator for a chain manufacturing company. About a year and a half into his warehouse career, he was thinking about a change. “This isn’t what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
After deciding to get back into I.T. (he had studied it in high school), he came across a CompTIA Network+ ad online from NexGenT. A good deal for a new world of opportunity. After flying through the course, he knew he wanted to join the ZTE program and lean into his passion.
NexGenT is designed to get you I.T. experience without a degree.
“You can go into this having no experience whatsoever, and they [Zero to Engineer] lay it out so perfectly for you, it’s easy to understand.”
He was able to make the switch and land his first I.T. role in under 3 months!
At $17.50 an hour to start, (an improvement from his warehouse wages) Daniel was set to grow in his first role at Rutter’s as an IT Support Technician, and work his way up doing what he loves. Below is our interview with him after his first day on the job (about one year ago). Since the interview, Daniel has been promoted to Junior Network Administrator with Rutter’s Dairy Farms!
From grueling night shifts to System Administrator – Goodbye, on-the-job injuries!
Logan Brindley was tired of lifting 5-gallon buckets of chains every day and working late nights away from home. Uneven sleeping schedules, physically harmful work—the whole nine yards.
He knew it was time for a change. He had sustained an on-the-job injury that accumulated into an apple-sized hematoma on his knee, leaving him out of work for a month.
Logan’s wife stumbled upon a way for him to get I.T. training and experience without a degree: NexGenT!
Logan had been making $19 an hour, but after an engaging interview process with Efusion Programming (in which he was able to show off what he learned from his online IT training), Logan would be accepting an offer for $21 an hour as a System Administrator.
From Injured Assembly Technician to Inventory Technician at Microsoft
Jason Benson is currently an Inventory Technician at Microsoft. It was a challenging road to get there. After suffering a back injury–and reinjuring himself multiple times–as an assembly technician, he knew it was time to move on to greener pastures.
Jason was introduced to NexGenT and decided to take the leap an sign up – after all, his body was in no condition to continue the taxing warehouse work he had been doing. This newly opened door and job position created a better environment for supporting his wife and children. With a special needs child, his health and flexible schedule were becoming more important as he wanted to be present in the raising of his kids.
NexGenT has helped him design solid career goals that “brighten his quality of life.”
From a disheartened warehouse worker to a Senior Network Engineer making 6 figures
When Kwame Ohemeng landed in the United States from Ghana, he expected to pick up his technology career right where he left off. But it wasn’t as simple as he thought it would be. In the U.S., companies required certifications to validate a person’s knowledge.
Even with all his experience, he ended up working in a warehouse for a company that manufactured air conditioners.
While he was searching for resources online, he came across one of the Zero to Engineer ads. The program was offering mentorship from world-class I.T. industry professionals.
Once he completed the Zero to Engineer program and had his certifications, he was better equipped at selling himself during job interviews.
After being deemed overqualified for the first position he interviewed for ($70,000 a year salary), he landed a job at PCM, a company with over 20,000 employees. Kwame stayed with PCM for 3 years before making the move to another company. He became the go-to person in the IT department—and even a valued mentor in the NexGenT advisor network.
From hauling chains at a lumber mill to Network Technician
Before discovering the CompTIA Network+, Jake Stephens was working in a lumber mill hauling green chain with pieces of lumber that were up to 300 pounds. The Network+ course confirmed he wanted to take his training further and he joined the Zero To Engineer program.
Jake started at $13 an hour, but after just 31-days, once he had gotten his CCNA and proven his skillset without having any previous I.T. experience, he asked for $18 an hour and was offered $20 an hour instead (Moral of the story: never be afraid to ask!)
Jake is no longer required to put a strain on his body to make ends meet. He uses what he learned in the Zero to Engineer program as the fundamentals in his work.
By making this career switch, Jake feels more secure in what he’s doing—no more temp jobs— and has confidence in his children’s futures and the opportunities he can provide for them, and himself.
What can we learn from these 6 move makers?
Each of these stories included either a major life event or injury striking before they finally made a career change. But what we can all learn from these hard workers, is you don’t have to wait to go after a dream. You don’t have to put it off until you have no other choice. You can make that choice right away. Your success is waiting for you to decide you are ready to go all in and change your career. And we know the snowball affect: change your career, change your happiness, your income, your life. If these students of Zero To Engineer were able to do it, so can you.
If you’re ready to make a change, reframe your life, start a new career, or dare to strive for security and fulfillment, NexGenT is here to help make that happen.
NexGenT started back in 2016 with a mission to change lives through our Zero To EngineerTM programs. Back then, we only offered self-paced Zero To EngineerTM (ZTE) programs to our students. Although our job placement percentages were great for those who completed our training programs, the percentage of completion was not. We wanted to change that. In late 2019, NexGenT decided to offer live instructor-led programs with our first cohort which started in late February 2020. In addition, to be true to our mission, we also offered our live instructor-led program with our no money down (pay only when you get a job) Income Share Agreement (ISA) to help anyone who is committed to changing her life.
Things were off to a great start, but then COVID-19 hit.
As uncertainty increased, we at NexGenT strategized and projected different scenarios on how our ISA program will be impacted by COVID-19. With the determination and the will to stay committed to helping our students through our ISA program, we had an idea to partner up with our ISA Program Manager, Leif, to find a solution.
After roughly two months of brainstorming and deal making, in May 2020 we were able to roll out$6 million in financing to scale up access to our Zero To EngineerTM programs. With this $6 million in place, we have been doubling our cohort sizes. At the time of writing, our June 2020 cohort is the largest and most selective cohort to date.
For additional information about what NexGenT has to offer and how you can apply for zero upfront tuition, select one of the buttons below.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the U.S. job market, but not every industry has been impacted in the same way. While other sectors such as hospitality and tourism have seen a substantial downturn, the software and tech industries have remained relatively unaffected—thanks in no small part to most employees’ ability to work from home.
According to the career website Dice.com, tech job postings in the first quarter of 2020 actually increased compared to Q1 2019, even accounting for the early effects of the pandemic. That’s good news for IT professionals who are looking for a new position right now, but worried about the potentially shaky job market.
The Dice Q1 2020 report also reveals some highly interesting trends about the U.S. tech job market right now. For example, states such as Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia have had surges in tech job posts in the last year—but the annual growth rates are even higher in some states that you wouldn’t think of as tech hubs, such as New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The full report is well worth your time to read, so check it out at the link above.
But with all that said, which companies are hiring IT professionals right now? In this article, we’ll discuss some of the top companies hiring IT professionals, along with some of the perks and benefits of working for each one.
ManTech is an IT defense contractor and consulting firm that helps U.S. federal government clients in the domains of cyber security, big data analytics, enterprise IT and systems engineering. According to Glassdoor.com, ManTech is going through a “hiring surge” right now, which is excellent news for IT professionals currently on the market.
In 2019, ManTech was named by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the “50 Great Places to Work” in the Washington D.C. area. In particular, the survey listed ManTech as a “Great Workplace for Veterans”—no surprise, given that almost 50 percent of the company’s workforce served in the military.
Like ManTech, Glassdoor has Nokia listed under its “hiring surge” for employees right now. As a major player in the telecommunications industry, Nokia is well-positioned to profit as 5G networks continue to roll out across the globe.
The good news is that Nokia is also a nice place to work: 84 percent of reviewers say they would recommend working at the company to a friend, and 87 percent approve of CEO Rajeev Suri. Particular highlights in Glassdoor reviews of Nokia include the friendly working culture and flexible working hours.
RingCentral calls itself “the leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications and collaboration solutions.” The company offers a cloud-based phone system for organizations to help boost users’ efficiency and productivity.
San Francisco Business Times and the Silicon Valley Business Journal have recently named RingCentral one of the “2020 Bay Area Best Places to Work,” based on traits such as work culture, management practices, and employee practices. The company also offers perks such as free breakfast and lunch, a company gym, and team-building exercises through athletics and volunteering.
TEKsystems is an IT service management company that offers a wide variety of IT specialties. The company supplies IT staff to clients, helping them resolve their most pressing and challenging problems. The suite of TEKsystems services includes:
Data analytics & insights
Enterprise software applications
Cyber risk & security
DevOps & automation
The benefits for TEKsystem employees are highly competitive, including:
Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO, including 100 percent coverage for wellness visits
Parental and military leave
20 days of vacation and 6 company holidays
Financial perks such as 401(k) plans, profit-sharing plans, and tuition reimbursement
Citi is one of the world’s largest providers of consumer financial services, including bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages. With millions of customers and offices in 160 countries, Citi’s IT infrastructure is mission-critical—now more than ever, as so much of the business world has migrated online.
Along with healthcare and 401(k) plans, Citi has been supportive of its workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the company announced that it would be giving $1,000 bonuses to employees who made less than $60,000, as well as letting workers take sick leave without needing to use their paid time off.
FedEx is one of the world’s biggest delivery services companies. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up FedEx’s business in a good way: the company has hired thousands of drivers as online orders surge, and announced a new technology partnership with Microsoft in May to help get better business analytics and insights.
IT jobs are an essential part of FedEx’s worldwide logistics chain. Fortune magazine ranked FedEx as one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2019, citing the company’s extensive charitable work and help delivering food, supplies, and medicine to communities affected by natural disasters.
Costco is a wholesale retailer that operates hundreds of members-only warehouses across the U.S. and the world. As of 2020, Costco is the world’s second-largest retailer, behind only Walmart, and the 14th-largest U.S. corporation by revenue.
The company’s IT jobs are located at the corporate headquarters of Issaquah, Washington. Employee benefits include free membership to Costco stores and much more: in 2018, Indeed.com ranked Costco #1 on the list of best companies for compensation and benefits.
Amazon is a multinational technology company that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. It is included in the Big Four technology companies, along with Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
Amazon is on a major hiring spree right now as their business has shot up during shelter in place. Benefits depend on both role and location but typically include a retirement plan, health insurance, employee assistance program, paid time off, and discounted products. They also encourage growth for all employees and even have a program called Career Choice which will pre-pay up to 95% of tuition fees for schooling in high demand fields for employees looking to level up.
Walmart is another company giant that is on a hiring spree. Although the majority of their positions are retail and warehousing, they also have many IT positions available. At the time of this writing, the listings for information technology related positions exceed 5000! Since the pandemic began, they have added over 150,000 people to their workforce and positions continue to be open and added.
Walmart does offer the common 401k, health insurance, employee discount, educational grants, stock, PTO, advancement and more. Benefits are dependent upon role and location but it is clear that Walmart cares for their employees.
The companies listed above are all great places to work for—and even better, they’re currently searching for new IT employees. Think you can make the cut? Check out their career websites and start sending those resumes.
If you’re looking to kickstart your career as an IT professional, we can help with that too. NexGenT offers hands-on, military-grade education programs in network engineering and cyber security, without the need for previous IT experience or degree. We’ll prepare you for the IT job market with our real-world skills training curriculum, during which you’ll gain industry certifications and benefit from mentorship from industry professionals.