Cody Dostal* grew up in a wired world and decided after high school to get a bachelor’s degree online. But the first program he enrolled in didn’t match his expectations. “I wanted a curriculum that would challenge me more,” Dostal says.
A Good Fit for Information Security Education
In 2015, he transferred to Capella University. His interest in software development drew him to Capella’s IT offerings, but he ultimately decided to focus on information assurance and security. Capella’s accreditations and designations seemed like further proof that its programs were respected in the professional world.
The first few courses Dostal took confirmed his belief that Capella offered a more rigorous curriculum. “The faculty expected more,” he says. “They seemed to care more.” He also learned a lot through team projects, working with other members in his classes.
A Benefit of Time Management
Integrating school into his life was no easy feat, however. Dostal already had work and family obligations. Making time for coursework required him to identify every spare minute in his days and make them productive. “I’ve had to plan out daily what I’ll complete in my classes,” he says. “This way, I can finish all of my work in time for the week, as well as have time to spend with my family. It’s not easy at all.”
But Dostal’s careful attention to time management and his deep focus on his studies paid off when he was awarded a civilian internship with the U.S. Army. Based in Maryland, he began as a full-time student trainee in information technology management last year and assists upper-level technicians with security issues.
A Dual Path of Coursework and Certifications
Job postings requiring applicants have both a BS and at least one certification grew from 4% in 2007 to 13% so far in 2017.* So in addition to his classes, Dostal has devoted time to obtaining certifications, including CompTIA Network+ and TestOut Network Pro.
*SOURCE: Burning Glass Research.
Capella’s coursework prepares information technology students for certain industry certifications, and exam vouchers are provided to qualifying students so they can complete the required tests—at no additional out–of-pocket expense. The path to getting the exam vouchers was smooth, Dostal says, even if the certification tests themselves were challenging.
Dostal’s coursework and certifications have already helped get him on the right career path. “One thing I like about working for the Army is that I can apply things I learn in class to my job,” he says. “I can already tell that a lot of what I learn at Capella I can use in the future—whatever I do.”
For example, as part of his final project at Capella, also known as a capstone project, Dostal is developing security recommendations for a redesign of the lab he works in. His analysis is more than just an exercise in thinking, however, because his managers at work have expressed an interest in reviewing the conclusions of his project. “Because of my work done here, my school record, and other various factors, they will take any recommendations I make seriously,” Dostal says.
Ultimately Dostal would like to pursue a lifelong dream of working for the CIA or the NSA. But first he wants to finish his bachelor’s degree and focus on continuing his education. Where will he enroll for his advanced degree? “With what I’ve experienced at Capella, my plan is to stay put,” he says. “I like the environment. I love that I can work a full-time job and not have to take the time to go sit down in class. I love how much the professors push their students.”
Learn more about Capella’s bachelor’s program in information technology.
Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.