What It’s Really Like Studying Cybersecurity Online

By: Rachel Miller
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While serving in the Air Force, Sean Heholt became passionate about cybersecurity after gaining insight into military aviation networks and potential hacking risks. However, when he decided to study cyber in-depth, he was wary of online programs due to previous negative experiences.

“I’ve taken online classes before, and it was a struggle for me because of the lack of face time and availability,” says Sean.

This lack of individualized attention is common among many online programs. According to the Harvard Business Review, “depending on the type of online program you choose, you could have limited, if any, interaction with the professors.”

Discouraged by his previous experience, Sean started looking for a bootcamp that was different.

He wanted instructors who would provide real-time, face-to-face instruction about the material and who would go into as much depth as he needed—especially when he didn’t immediately grasp a topic.

He eventually found the online Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp, which according to Sean, was “exactly what I needed and more.”

One-on-One Interaction

Sean found the remote learning experience to be completely different than what he’d experienced in other online settings. A major difference was related to the availability of the instructors—an essential element in making online learning successful.

“[The instructors] let us know every day that it’s okay to seek help from them at any time that works for us. Fullstack Academy offers ‘office hours’, which are for students who need help. They’re also highly flexible to accommodate the specific needs of the students beyond those hours,” Sean says.

One of Sean’s Fullstack instructors, Marc Capellupo, explains: “We’re always in touch with students through Slack or email. If they need more focused time outside of class, we’re able to jump on a Zoom session for 20–30 mins at a time that works for the students.”

In addition to dedicated instructors, all Cyber programs also include Instructional Assistants, who are always available to act as a secondary resource to students.

Teamwork & Soft Skills Emphasis

Teamwork and an emphasis on soft skills were also unique benefits Sean found when studying online at Fullstack. He explains, “We get to exercise teamwork when performing hands-on labs in class. We also get a different partner every week from varying walks of life and cultures.”

According to Senior Instructor Veer Dedhia, Fullstack prioritizes collaboration because it’s essential to being a successful cybersecurity expert.

Veer says, “A job in cybersecurity requires teamwork and communication, both soft skills that are equally important as the technical know-how. You often have to provide 24-7 coverage, which requires shifts, and may even include teams in different time zones.”

He continues, “Documenting and communicating incident state is paramount to ensuring that your coworkers can pick up where you left off. Larger incidents require escalation to incident management teams, which must operate as a cohesive team.”

Naturally, given these demands, communication is essential.

According to Veer, “Growing in a cyber career requires learning these soft skills, especially to communicate technical concepts to nontechnical audiences. At Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp, we train all of the above alongside our rigorous technical training.”

High-Quality Online Learning Environment

In addition to the one-one-one interaction and soft skills training, Sean was also impressed with the high-quality online learning environment that Fullstack Cyber provides, which allows instructors to drill down into the most important topics.

“The material is covered in the most thorough manner … and [the instructors] provide thought-provoking and challenging labs. We also get to utilize virtual machines on our computers using the knowledge from our pre-work into a second-nature skill,” Sean explained.

Fullstack Academy has years of experience running online bootcamps, which has translated into a positive experience for Sean. “I can truly say remote learning is very effective with the FSA staff and instructors because they have the feel of a professional classroom setting with the convenience of being at home. Every day I have class with the instructors, I am happy with what I'm learning and how I'm learning it,” Sean says.

And although Fullstack is focused on outcomes, the staff is still devoted to making the online learning experience enjoyable. “My instructors have made this learning environment fun,” Sean says.

Despite Sean’s negative history with other online learning programs, he still decided to make the investment in Fullstack after hearing about its reputation. For him, the decision was a good one: “Choosing Fullstack Academy is one of the best things I've ever done for myself.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the USD Cyber Bootcamp powered by Fullstack Academy, check out our part-time program.