When they get five years into their careers, professionals working in the cybersecurity field have a huge opportunity to increase their job prospects and earning potential by adding the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) to their resume.
The CISSP has become indispensable for anyone seeking to gain work on government contracts related to cybersecurity. As Amazon prepares to bring 25,000 tech-related jobs to Northern Virginia, demand for this certification is expected to drastically increase.
But an individual who has spent only five years in the workforce often doesn’t have the time or resources to devote to earning a certification as rigorous as the CISSP. This is especially true for workers in the Fredericksburg region, where until very recently, qualified candidates had to commute to Northern Virginia to receive in-person CISSP prep. For a young professional who may have recently started a family, this is not an attractive option.
In addition to the time investment, individuals at this stage in their careers often don’t have the $4,000 to $5,000 that many typical CISSP prep programs cost.
But every year they don’t earn their CISSP, these workers are leaving valuable career opportunities on the table.
Continuing and Professional Studies at the University of Mary Washington saw this need. With a grant from GO Virginia, and in partnership with King George County and the Stafford County and Fredericksburg economic development authorities, UMW opened registration for its first CISSP certification course this fall. The course’s first session will start in February 2020 and run through May.
Having local, in-person training gives students the opportunity to connect with area experts in their industry.
Cybersecurity certification at the University of Mary Washington gives both individuals and local businesses the opportunity to access CISSP certification without spending too much time traveling, and the grant money makes it more affordable than comparable programs.
“The fact that this is being hosted at the University of Mary Washington, which is near to where I live—even though I have a wife and a boy and another boy on the way, it’s something I can work into my schedule,” said Matthew Fields, a consultant with Fredericksburg-based PUEO, which provides a range of digital solutions to defense, government and business clients.
PUEO founder Micah Mossman said his firm is happy to see UMW taking the lead in providing locally based training to help the region’s businesses access a labor market with more CISSP certified individuals.
“This program sends a very powerful message to organizations looking to hire—whether they are government or private-sector—that we really have a focus on building cyber talent here in the Fredericksburg region,” he said.
Providing solutions like these to employers and professionals is the mission of Continuing and Professional Studies at the University of Mary Washington. By staying in close touch with the Fredericksburg region’s employers, Continuing and Professional Studies constantly works to build and customize courses, degrees and certification programs that provide just-in-time learning to adults who are in the workforce and seek to get the most out of their careers. Check out our full list of course offerings at All Courses.
Learn more about CISSP Certification.
As the former director of the Executive MBA program at a university in the Midwest, I often found myself saying to my students that the goal of the program was to help them put the pieces together and begin to think at the enterprise level. What I meant by that is taking into account the success of the organization as a whole rather than viewing it from the perspective of any one function or division. An enterprise perspective means understanding how the parts of the organization work together to create value for its stakeholders. In order for an organization to be successful in delivering on its mission, the associates and leaders must first understand the mission and second, understand their role in helping to achieve it.
Whether it is a small or large business, a not-for-profit, or a governmental agency, having leaders who understand the DNA of the organization is critical for sustainable growth. I have worked with numerous organizations as a consultant and an educator, and the one thing that the successful organizations have in common is the investment in continuous learning for their leaders. The most successful didn’t merely make an investment; they first spent time understanding what to invest in.
Did the next group of leaders need to learn how to work together? Did they need to understand the industry context or the key issues that the executive leadership deemed important? Maybe what they needed was technical knowledge to lead more efficient processes. Whatever the strategic need, the best organizations were able to pinpoint where they wanted to be in the future and then engage trusted advisors and key leaders to get there.
Learning and development isn’t just for large organizations; these are necessary ingredients for the success of any organization. Educating an individual in the organization not only improves that person’s ability, it raises the level of the entire organization and allows it to build or sustain a winning enterprise.
Perhaps former Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders said it best:
“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It’s not about winning and losing; it’s about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It’s about embracing the pain that you’ll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge.”
Whatever your organizational challenge, a university can be a tremendous thought partner, an advocate for building organizational capacity through learning, and ultimately a place where you can find the tools to build an enterprise that is ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.
Power up! Let’s build something together!
Do you ever take time to stop and think about what drives you? What you are passionate about? These questions are essential no matter where you are in your career or life. Feeding your passion is about expanding your mind; it’s about creating something new. Did you know research shows that when we perform a new task or learn something new, new connections are forged in our brain? That means learning isn’t just cerebral, it’s physiological! Exercising your passion is another way to put your brain to work.
As professionals, we often feel torn between competing demands: work, family, professional advancement, etc. If only we could realize the value of taking the time to explore new and different activities. We could improve our creativity, expand our ability to connect with others, and ultimately, become more well-rounded leaders.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who only knew how to talk about his or her profession? Conversations with such one-dimensional individuals can be painful. Over the years, I’ve certainly found myself struggling to come up with new or interesting things to talk about. I recall early in my career admiring the leaders who could hold dinner or cocktail conversation about myriad topics – from the latest movies and pop culture sensations to which wines were hot that year and other interesting insights about the world around them. As a twenty-something, I longed to be that informed. Maybe that’s why I’ve devoted my life to adult learning. It’s important to me that the learners with whom I come in contact not only have a quality educational experience, but that they walk away with something that will inspire them to see things differently – or something they can bring up in dinner conversation. From food and wine to the science of how everyday things work, subject matter can be interpreted from a unique perspective.
My passion is cooking (and eating!). As a result, I read cookbooks like some people read novels – curled up in my favorite chair with a warm blanket and a roaring fire. Rarely am I standing in the kitchen while reading my cookbook. While that can sometimes be disastrous, it is mostly enlightening. To me, a good cookbook will provide context for the dish – more than the measures of ingredients. I will learn about the origin of the recipe or the people who consumed it. I may learn about the culture or historical context that made the food popular, which gives me new insight and inspiration. That knowledge is something that I can share with others and together, we can build conversational bridges that connect our unique experiences and extend our collective knowledge about the world around us.
I invite you to join us in our quest to feed your passion. Maya Angelou may have said it best: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
In the weeks and months to come, I hope you will join us in exploring your passion, exercising your humor, and learning in your unique style.
Let’s dig in!
Learning how to ride a motorcycle was one of the hardest things I have ever done! I have often reflected on why it was so much more physically challenging than any workout I had ever experienced. Here’s what I determined: It was all in my approach, or – as we say in academia – the curriculum.
You see, our first day of learning to maneuver the bike, we were told to keep it in neutral. If you know anything about motorcycles, that means we basically had the weight of the bike working against us. I could feel all 500 pounds of the machine as I tried to become comfortable with important details of riding, like balance, gear shifting, and the various mechanical aspects of the bike.
The next day, we were introduced to first gear. Wow! What a difference that made. In first gear, suddenly, the bike did some of the work for me! I no longer had to wrestle the bike to move forward or feel the weight of walking the bike forward in a line of learners. Now, I could begin to add on to the learning of the previous day. Yes, I was still sore from the first day’s lesson. Yes, I was still terrified of the repercussions of that Harley Street 500 falling on me. But now, in first gear, I could take my sore muscles and new knowledge and focus on the feeling of actually riding that bike.
Learning as an adult is kind of like learning to ride that motorcycle. At first, it’s a little scary and potentially a bit painful. You wonder how all of the people around you have done this with obligations and limitations similar and different from yours. That first class, that first step that you take in working your mind will produce brain cramps and soreness, but as you stick with it, you will begin to feel the anticipation of more. You will have the desire to experience your existing surroundings with new perspective and to take your new found knowledge for a spin in new places – explore new territory.
No matter your reason for wanting to expand your reach through continued learning, despite the initial fear, despite the potential “soreness,” think about what Leonardo da Vinci once said: “Learning never exhausts the mind.”
Join us! Let’s go full throttle and learn something together!