Options

WGU MSISA Done in 4 Months

DonDealDonDeal Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
I've been browsing the forums as a guest for a very long time. I've been wanting to change careers and get into a formal IT career, specifically IT security. I finally decided to take the plunge at the beginning of 2014 as my new years resolution. I have no formal IT experience but many years of experience as being self-employed in IT. I guess you can say that I'm self-taught, but self-taught means nothing without credentials if you want an IT career. I do understand that the typical IT security path is through networking, system admin roles, and etc at first. It is extremely difficult to get into it with no formal experience, according to most that you ask.

In January I started with no IT qualifications and an unrelated BS degree. I set me eyes on WGU's MSISA. I wanted to get in to the program by having the CCNA. I started studying Todd Lammle's book and everything just started to come easy. Between January and February I earned my CCENT and CCNA:RS.

I was accepted into the program with a start date of 4/1/14. I completed the orientation course (EWOB) by 3/15/14. I was surprised that I could view my course tasks before my official start date. I had all the assignments completed and ready to submit for 2 courses by my official start date. I completed 4 more courses before April was over so I had 6 courses out of 11 completed by the end of April. My target was 1 to 2 weeks per course. The only course that threw my timeline off was Cryptography and it took 1 month to complete.

My capstone took 2 weeks to complete. I absolutely hate writing long papers and I was dreading the capstone as it was approaching. I easily put in 100+ hours on it. I wrapped up my oral defense yesterday and now I'm done.

I started applying for IT security jobs 1 month ago. The information security hype is real! I'm overwhelmed with interview offers, and the job outlook is bright. icon_smile.gif I've passed many phone interviews and moving on to the final phases in most of them. I have an employer that is flying me across the country in a few weeks just to speak with me. I'm definitely impressed with my return on investment in regards to my MS. It was only $3k.
Master of Public Administration - 50% complete
Master of Science: Information Security and Assurance
«13

Comments

  • Options
    2230622306 Member Posts: 223 ■■□□□□□□□□
    for the ccna which book was it exactly and was the book enough to pass the ccna?
  • Options
    cyberguyprcyberguypr Mod Posts: 6,928 Mod
    Great story. Coincidentally my first term starts today and I am shooting for 1 term.
  • Options
    MSP-ITMSP-IT Member Posts: 752 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Where does your experience lie? I'm a bit skeptical if you have absolutely no IT experience.
  • Options
    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    That's a bit alarming. Any degree program that can be completed in 4 months, ( 8 weeks which is usually a session of a brick and mortar) is going to be frowned upon IMO. I wouldn't go beating your chest to employers etc about how long it took.

    But that's just me.

    One of the things the employers want to see is if you can handle the grind. Banging out something in 4 months is not grinding it's microwaving.

    Either way good luck on landing a security role! I like that you don't have IT experience and went for the Masters. Shows guts, have you considered the CISSP next? I believe anything security related can make you eligible, like physical security or access control. Something to consider... When searching for positions I see a lot of CISSP requirements.
  • Options
    Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    You can't get the full CISSP without 5 years of actual work experience that touches an infosec domain. Might be 4 with the MS, but even then he's got a long way to go. You can test for an "associate of CISSP" I think it's called, same test, same price, but you can't call yourself a CISSP.

    Either way, were you working? 4 months with no IT experience is crazy, you've either got a really special talent, photographic memory, etc. Most people couldn't even braindump all those tests in 4 months.

    As for job offers, for what type of positions without experience? I'm trying to get a position in infosec now with lots of sysadmin experience and without a full security position on my resume I'm not getting a lot of action. I've got a BS, a whole pile of certs, etc.
  • Options
    Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Member Posts: 250
    Guys he was self employed in IT. I wouldn't call that no experience.
  • Options
    Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    It's relative, I know a number of people who say that and remove viruses and upgrade ram for friends. I was more wondering if he was spending 90 hours a week studying while not having a standard 9-5 job.
  • Options
    DonDealDonDeal Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Like I said, I've been self-employed for over 7 years and I wanted credentials to back up my knowledge. I don't think people are doing much frowning if I'm passing oral boards, taskstream graders, IT certs, and I'm impressing enough people on phone interviews with their technical questions to make it to the next stage. It's obvious I know my stuff.

    Honestly, I hoped to inspire people. I didn't expect the sporadic negativity that's littered in some of the posts. There are traditional and non-traditional IT guys. Self-taught and book taught.

    Their are entry level InfoSec positions. You have to just do your research. I will admit the entry level opportunities are in the minority and hard to find, but those are the ones that I'm applying to and having much success. Also, there are InfoSec positions with the feds that start at GS-09 and you can sub the experience if you have a masters. Then, there are the positions that require experience but you can sub education for experience. The self-employment experience isn't counted in most places.
    Master of Public Administration - 50% complete
    Master of Science: Information Security and Assurance
  • Options
    IristheangelIristheangel Mod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    That's the first time I've heard of someone doing it without certification and being self-employed. Did you have a DBA or something for your own business? I have no idea how you did the degree in 4 month. Took me almost 2 full years. Were you taking time off of working or something to do this? It could be done. Just extremely difficult so I'm impressed.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
  • Options
    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I think you are being defensive about it personally. I was just trying to provide feedback. Either way.......

    My apologies for missing the fact you had 7 years of self employed IT experience. ***Just curious what service or product were you providing?

    It's great you achieved your masters in security. I also think it's equally impressive you did it in 4 months, like Iris said it took her 2 years and it took me 18 months to get my masters so more props to you.

    I hope you get the job you are looking for. Best wishes.
  • Options
    zxbanezxbane Member Posts: 740 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I will add that it is a little scary that as you mentioned the degree can be used to sub for experience in the case of the GS-09 positions when the degree took you 4 months and the experience took the person much longer to obtain.
  • Options
    DonDealDonDeal Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I fully dedicated my 2014 to obtaining my certs and masters. I might sound insane but I've been studying 8-16 hours a day since the start of the year to brush up on things that were quite vague.

    I have several websites that get tens of thousands of daily web traffic a day with adsense and affiliate offers that grew at the end of 2013 which allowed me to dedicate all my time to it. These are large websites with millions of records... The sites also allowed me to scale back on some of the physical day to day tasks that I did like volunteering my IT skills to non-profits and some other work I did regularly. Also, my loving wife was willing to pick her career back up while I studied. Having no kids helps as well.
    Master of Public Administration - 50% complete
    Master of Science: Information Security and Assurance
  • Options
    DonDealDonDeal Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
    zxbane wrote: »
    I will add that it is a little scary that as you mentioned the degree can be used to sub for experience in the case of the GS-09 positions when the degree took you 4 months and the experience took the person much longer to obtain.

    So you don't ever see job offers that state "commensurate with experience and education". Also, I believe The United States Office of Personnel Management makes the federal hiring guidelines.
    Master of Public Administration - 50% complete
    Master of Science: Information Security and Assurance
  • Options
    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    OPM is a different beast altogether. The longer the resume I put together the better chances I have for getting an interview. Quite the difference in private sector.
  • Options
    Cisc0kiddCisc0kidd Member Posts: 250
    I've been self employed doing on site IT work for 9 years. I work for HP, IBM, Dell, Compucom, Pomeroy, etc. The bad part is I think it has ruined me for a w2! icon_smile.gif
  • Options
    2230622306 Member Posts: 223 ■■□□□□□□□□
    i wanted to post this earlier.. you will get some negative answers
  • Options
    da_vatoda_vato Member Posts: 445
    DonDeal,

    Congrats to you, I am finishing up the MSISA right now myself, just no where near as fast. I can't believe you were bashed the way you were.... but that's the way forums go sometimes. WGU is about competency and obviously you have shown competency. I wish you the best of luck in your career.
  • Options
    KeroseenKeroseen Member Posts: 24 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Well done, sir! You're an inspiration to us all... I wish I was nearly as quick, but alas, it's taken me nearly 2 years to finish.
  • Options
    the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I don't feel that people are trying to be negative per say, but you have to admit that four months is an extremely short amount of time to complete ones Masters degree. You are getting interviews so obviously you have some technical ability and should be proud of the accomplishment.

    I feel Wiki's definition of a Masters is pretty spot on:

    A master's degree is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice.[1] Within the area studied, graduates are posited to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

    The big thing to consider in such matters really is that the WGU Masters is much like a professional Masters degree at other universities. It's not really meant to further research in the field as much as it is showing a professional mastery of the field of Information Assurance. There are many traditional Masters degrees at other universities that you can complete in 12 months. While you are correct a Masters does qualify you for a GS-7 to 9 position off the bat most who have been in the Federal world will tell you that doesn't mean you'll get the spot. You are using it as a method to gain an entry level position in IA so I say more power to you.

    I went to school with a number of people who had various degrees and wanted one in IT. Particularly I recall a friend who was one of the best telecom guys you have ever met. If it had a dial tone he could set it up, fix it, or secure it. But in his younger days he thought he'd be a musician (he was one amazing guitarist) thus he got his first bachelor's in Music Theory. Sadly that was not enough to get him the jobs he deserved making the money that went with his talent and skill. Thus he went back and got another bachelors.

    I would note that in the event you go government and require a clearance be ready to explain how WGU works. Looking at your transcripts they are going to see start dates and graduation date. I'd definitely would expect a few questions in that regard.
    WIP:
    PHP
    Kotlin
    Intro to Discrete Math
    Programming Languages
    Work stuff
  • Options
    daviddwsdaviddws Member Posts: 303 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Im not sure if your gloating or cheapening the degree.
    ________________________________________
    M.I.S.M:
    Master of Information Systems Management
    M.B.A: Master of Business Administration
  • Options
    ratbuddyratbuddy Member Posts: 665
    Don't let the haters get you down, DonDeal. Not everyone has the capability to complete advanced coursework so quickly, and jealousy is an ugly thing.

    Good job.
  • Options
    spiderjerichospiderjericho Registered Users, Member Posts: 892 ■■■■■□□□□□
    I say congrats. Not any different than the one term, two term stories for the B.S. Degrees.

    I got a second B.S. Degree from WGU. And my experience was it was a means to an end.
  • Options
    tprice5tprice5 Member Posts: 770
    N2IT wrote: »
    That's a bit alarming.

    This was my intial reaction prior to hearing his defense..
    N2IT wrote: »
    like Iris said it took her 2 years and it took me 18 months to get my masters so more props to you.

    Your masters is an MBA. Was it done through WGU? If not, theres your answer. And Iris works ALL the time. If she had the free time she could have taken this exact route but since her time was divided it took her longer.
    DonDeal wrote: »
    I fully dedicated my 2014 to obtaining my certs and masters. I might sound insane but I've been studying 8-16 hours a day since the start of the year to brush up on things that were quite vague.

    People are criticizing him but he more than likely put in as many or more hours than the others who have obtained this degree. The difference being that he had the luxury of devoting 100% of his efforts to this while the rest are split between academics and their careers.

    Hats off to you, DonDeal. Could describe your role and responsibilities as webmaster of those sites? Best of luck landing a security role.
    You may be interested in the Standford Certificate of Advanced Computer Security next!
    the_Grinch wrote: »
    While you are correct a Masters does qualify you for a GS-7 to 9 position off the bat most who have been in the Federal world will tell you that doesn't mean you'll get the spot. You are using it as a method to gain an entry level position in IA so I say more power to you.

    I wouldn't accept anything less than a GS11 with those credentials.
    Source: worked as a contractor alongside GS11's.
    Certification To-Do: CEH [ ], CHFI [ ], NCSA [ ], E10-001 [ ], 70-413 [ ], 70-414 [ ]
    WGU MSISA
    Start Date: 10/01/2014 | Complete Date: ASAP
    All Courses: LOT2, LYT2 , UVC2, ORA1, VUT2, VLT2 , FNV2 , TFT2 , JIT2 , FMV2, FXT2 , LQT2
  • Options
    IristheangelIristheangel Mod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    Yep, tprice. Pretty much :P Hats off to OP. I'm not going to judge the guy for getting it done quickly. Even with all the time in the world, I couldn't have done it because I was absolutely bored by some of the classes. That guy has to have some focus to sit there and go through that in such a short amount of time.

    My original line of questioning was more about the admittance guys taking your self-employed as IT experience. For any of the IT degrees, WGU wants someone with X amount of professional experience or a couple certifications. Sometimes they can be a bit strict about not admitting based on being self-employed as opposed to W2 IT experience. I was just curious if he had a DBA or got a nice admittance counselor. Not really important. Just my own curiosity.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
  • Options
    tprice5tprice5 Member Posts: 770
    For any of the IT degrees, WGU wants someone with X amount of professional experience or a couple certifications. Sometimes they can be a bit strict about not admitting based on being self-employed as opposed to W2 IT experience.

    True dat. I am not sure if they accepted a CCNA for admission or if they required a CCNP. I know they will also accept a CISSP. I was almost not admitted but was approved based on my CASP after I pointed out the DoD 8570 and the parallels between the two. I didn't end up pursuing the degree though.
    Certification To-Do: CEH [ ], CHFI [ ], NCSA [ ], E10-001 [ ], 70-413 [ ], 70-414 [ ]
    WGU MSISA
    Start Date: 10/01/2014 | Complete Date: ASAP
    All Courses: LOT2, LYT2 , UVC2, ORA1, VUT2, VLT2 , FNV2 , TFT2 , JIT2 , FMV2, FXT2 , LQT2
  • Options
    DonDealDonDeal Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Warning long post but this is to clarify some things:

    Some of you guys are really going off the deep end and I'm trying to be as nice as possible, considering I'm new. It was very hard work, tons of coffee, and many 16 hour days to knock my degree out in that time frame. WGU encourages motivated adults to go at their own pace. I have passive income and no kids so I can study for an entire day, wake up, and do it all over again. I'll describe my experience since most of you keep saying "no experience"? I said I had informal and self-employment IT experience and some of you guys are referring to installing ram for neighbors? Hilarious! Although I do install ram in my gaming rig, since I use it to blow off steam in Armed Assault 3 and other games.:)

    I'm in my late 20s. Between 14-18 years of age I ran a game server and web hosting business with hundreds of customers. I was a hardcore gamer. I used word of mouth and in-game advertising (provisioning many empty servers that filled the server list in Gamespy). I was managing 30+ dedicated servers with a mixture of Windows Server and Linux Centos operating systems. This is also where I got interested in coding because no game server control panels were out back then and my customers were nagging me about constantly rebooting their game servers so I coded a crude app for them. It used a mixture of WAMP, PHP, and a batch script that allowed them to stop start, and restart their game server. I was making over 50k at 16 in the early 2000s. I hosted my servers at ThePlanet. I believe its been sold to Softlayer now. I sold my business and went to college at 18.

    I went to college and just didn't like brick and mortar learning. So I postponed college and went into law enforcement for awhile. I discovered CLEPS and DSST exams. I really believe that these tests have built my studying habits up to the point that allowed me to bang out my Masters in a fast pace. The tests allow you to complete them and earn college credits (3-6 semester credits) for $100 each. However, they are extremely hard. I found a popular regionally accredited college that took a lot of these credits (many colleges accept them). I combined CLEPS/DSSTs, courses at their institution, and my transfer credits to get my bachelors from this college.

    IT and my entrepreneur spirit was calling me back. I started fooling around with malware, viruses, and rootkits in a virtual environment in VMware. I also intentionally infected some laptops on my home network for learning purposes. I also played around with Backtrack, Nmap, Wireshark, and Snort. These things peaked my curiosity but I never could figure out how to make money from it so it was just a hobby.

    I'm extremely fluent in C++, PHP, and MySQL. I have many websites that use open government datasets and APIs to turn meaningless data into meaning to Google's web visitors (Similar to City-data.com and Findthebest.com). I had to create parsers to sift through this data and put it in my databases. They return the favor and send me web traffic that i monetize with Adsense and affiliate offers. I have MySQL databases with hundreds of millions of records and most of my pages are indexed in Google. I'm a one man shop in all of my endeavors. I secure and manage my Amazon cloud servers, clustering, load balancing, front-end, backend, firewalls, access controls, SSL certs, ports, and server patch management. I also have to watch my server logs periodically through the day to ban data scrapers that put heavy loads on my servers.

    Years ago, I created a web app that tested your internet speed, promoted a software at the end (affiliate offer), promoted it on Google Adwords, and made over 200k in 6 months before Google put the brakes on that because of their disdain for affiliate marketers in Adwords during this period. I had no competition and was receiving 0.05-0.07 cent clicks with long-tail keywords.

    I was coding a geo-political browser game before I started my degree program. I'm about 45% complete, but it needs some more back-end coding. The browser GUI is complete though. I don't know if I'll ever have time to finish it due to my new interest in security.

    I've done a lot more things in IT but that should be enough to give most of you an insight on me. I'm not trying to gloat, and I was only trying to inspire people to push themselves and be the best that they can be in life.

    I am not a traditional IT guy as in I didn't start at Desktop Support and moved my way up. So I can't say that I worked for XYZ company with 100+ employees. That is why I said I was self-employed and had informal experience that's really more than 15 years.

    Armed with this sort of background and a CCNA to meet their entrance requirement, obviously woo'ed (Literally) the WGU admissions counselor. I believe they made a great decision by letting me in to their program. I doubt they've cheapened their degree by allowing an individual with my experience and passion to achieve their Masters. I'm proud to be apart of the Alumni.
    Master of Public Administration - 50% complete
    Master of Science: Information Security and Assurance
  • Options
    DonDealDonDeal Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
    22306 wrote: »
    for the ccna which book was it exactly and was the book enough to pass the ccna?

    I used Todd Lammle's CCNA Study Guide, Google, and Youtube. Your comment reminded me about the Amazon review I left for his book. I just noticed, 6 months later, that I have the second highest rated most helpful review with 16 out of 16 people recommending it. That's pretty cool, but i hope I wasn't misleading people into thinking they could accomplish the same without some sort of prior knowledge and motivation. CCNA Routing and Switching Study Guide: Exams 100-101, 200-101, and 200-120: Todd Lammle: 9781118749616: Amazon.com: Books
    Master of Public Administration - 50% complete
    Master of Science: Information Security and Assurance
  • Options
    NyblizzardNyblizzard Member Posts: 332 ■■■■□□□□□□
    This guy rocks
    O
    /|\
    / \
  • Options
    Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,310 ■■■■■■■■□□
    The whole "install ram for neighbors" thing was exactly what I said it was, based on people I know who have done the same thing. I also know a number of people who can barely put up a wordpress site and declare they are web dev pros and try to sell their services to local victims/clients, obviously your situation was different.

    16 hrs a day, whew, even with that, that's an impressive amount of classes to get done in that time frame. I did my BS at WGU, accelerated but not that quick. I'd get home from work and my toddler daughter would velcro to me as soon as I walked in, hah, even getting 2 hours a day most days was difficult. I'd like to start the MS when I can, but looking for a new job that will pay for it first, trying to give my wife a break between the programs too.

    Again, congrats on the achievement.
  • Options
    N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    daviddws wrote: »
    Im not sure if your gloating or cheapening the degree.

    I was picking up on that as well.

    Either way it seems he was being sincere so I apologize. Good read btw, sounds like you are quite the IT professional.

    Well done.
Sign In or Register to comment.