Intro to forum and question on SANS Conference Class vs Mentor Class

DTrainDTrain Registered Users Posts: 3 ■■■□□□□□□□
Hello TE,

Just a little background:

I've been working with systems/network for the past 7 years holding positions from Desktop Technician to Systems/Network Administrator. I have recently obtained a position in the Security Industry as this has always been my goal. Initially what I have noticed, is that this is definitely a different mindset and approach to IT. I'm finding it to be challenging but also very exciting.

I have been given the opportunity to sign up for an upcoming SANS event from my employer. Initially, I've decided to start with the SEC401 followed by pursuing to obtain my GSEC certification. I feel this will give me a solid foundation security-wise and the ability to know which way I want my security career to follow. There are a couple events next month that are around the same time. One is at a SANS conference and the other in my general region (Mentor). Although the local event is more cost effective for my company, I feel I may get more out of the boot camp at a conference only because I will be able to immerse myself completely at a conference as opposed to coming home and clocking in for my second job (proud father of two). My wife is on-board with either decision and has been very supportive.

There is a lot of info on this forum detailing the conferences. I'm curious, has anyone taken the SEC401 mentor course? If so, how did you like the smaller more intimate feel of the class? Do they do any activities after the event as they do in the conferences? I noticed that they are two hours shorter each day as well. I know it will be hard to find a comparative since most people will take either or, but just looking for examples to help me with this decision.

I will have other opportunities for SANS Events and GIAC certification in the future just wanting to know if I should kick off my first impression at a Conference.

I apologize the long winded intro and I thank you in advance. Your opinions are appreciated.


  • azmattazmatt Member Posts: 114
    Welcome to te :)

    My sans mentor knowledge comes from preparing to be a mentor and i've never attended a mentored class but it boils own to studying at your pace (but kinda on your own) vs. getting force-fed the material in a week, but getting the full network experiance, networking etc.

    If my employeer would pay for either, I'd go conference. You have to go through the books afterwards to make your index so the info has some time to soak in. Larger events have a lot more activites and talks. Are you looking at Phoenix?
  • ChooseLifeChooseLife Member Posts: 941 ■■■■■■■□□□

    If I had to choose between a conference and a mentor program, I would definitely choose the former - for the quality of instructors and extra activities at the event (mentor programs do not have evening talks, as I understand)
    “You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.” (c) xkcd #896

    - discounted vouchers for certs
  • docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I'm under the impression that mentor sessions are just meet-ups that last a few hours each time to review the material with the instructor and other students, maybe do labs together, etc.. That said, an actual conference will more than likely require travel costs which could add a substantial amount to the total.

    I'll be heading out to SANS 2013 in Florida during March, which is one of their huge ones (the other being Vegas) so I'll see what the experience is like. There are always night-time activities like NetWars, talks, vendor booths, etc. that you can involve yourself in. Definitely seems great if your company can float the bill. But you're right - it's a jam-packed experience and if you'd rather go at it slow, OnDemand or mentor might be a better choice.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written:
  • DTrainDTrain Registered Users Posts: 3 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks again for your responses. I did notice a lot of the mentor courses are a couple hours a day over several weeks. However the SEC401 Mentor Bootcamp scheduled in Sacramento is six full days spread over two weeks, three days each week. I did receive an email from the SANS Mentor Manager and she stated that at this time, there is low enrollment so it may get canceled, not official yet but a possibility. I was also looking at the Scottsdale, AZ conference. She also mentioned that AZ is susceptible to being canceled if there is low enrollment. The only events that are 99.9% of the time wouldn't change are classes at the larger events such as the one in Florida.

    I would like to move forward and schedule an event sooner rather than later and am open to waiting to Florida if need be. In the meantime I've been networking with the staff here at work and talking to past teachers and just immersing myself with anything security. I'll be picking up related books as well. I am open to OnDemand. I just think initially, I would like to network and experience the conference environment and atmosphere.
  • paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Welcome to TE.

    I'm generally not a big fan of GIAC certifications. My perception of the one exam that I took was that the exams are geared toward assuring that the candidate passes the test.

    As for SANS training, I have only ever taken 2 of them - both on-demand. For me, the on-demand training is a good way to self-paced learning. And I generally prefer that type of delivery medium over classroom.

    If you like to self-pace and you enjoy taking your time to absorb the material and even doing on-the-side self-research, the on-demand option is good. The SANS training itself is decent.
  • azmattazmatt Member Posts: 114
    They obviously know more than i do but there's no way scottsdale is getting canceled.
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