The Benefits of Learning Cybersecurity Remotely
By Emily Gregor
At first, Fullstack Cyber Bootcamp alum and current teaching fellow Harris Stevens wasn’t looking forward to learning remotely. He enjoyed the in-person experience and worried about being stuck in his apartment all day and missing out on valuable in-person interaction.
Once he got used to it, though, he found that online learning was the best way to continue his education when in-person instruction just wasn’t possible—and now he’s more ready than ever to start the next phase of his career.
Keep reading to get to know his story, from how he chose Fullstack and got interested in cybersecurity to the benefits of the remote learning experience, community building, and advice for prospective students.
Choosing Fullstack and Cybersecurity
Deciding which part of the tech industry you want to be a part of can be a challenge, and from there, deciding on a program can be even tougher.
With a publishing background and a master’s in creative writing, Harris was looking for a career that would pair his soft skills with consistent learning and growth.
“I realized I didn’t want to work in publishing long-term and I wanted to be in an industry that there was a lot of potential for growth and continued learning, so that’s what got me thinking about technology,” he says.
When it came to choosing cyber, he liked that it was interdisciplinary.
“I thought about cybersecurity specifically because it split the difference between really technical knowledge and concept and implementation,” he says. “There’s still a focus on human behavior because a lot of security risks come from people using technology,” he says.
Benefits of Learning Remotely
After a few weeks of learning remotely, some of the practical benefits really made a difference for Harris.
“I didn’t have to commute an hour every day, I didn’t have to pack my lunch. Those things were nice, little practical helps, and given that the program was so rigorous, that time is actually really valuable,” he says. “I can study with that or take more personal time to go for a walk or get some exercise.”
He also noticed that the sense of community was still really strong, despite not being able to interact and build relationships in-person.
“We still developed a strong community even when we were virtual and we had little virtual happy hours or little virtual meetups that were actually really fun and like, obviously, I’d prefer them in person, but they were actually a bright spot and enjoyable,” he says.
One of the biggest elements that sets Fullstack apart is the sense of community.
“The Fullstack Community is very supportive, and I think that flows from the leadership and the staff who are really focused on doing everything they can to make you succeed,” Harris says.
He’s found a lot of community building through apps like WhatsApp, from the classroom to post-grad and beyond.
“I have one WhatsApp group where everybody from the cohort’s in it, and we’ll send updates, you know ‘Hey, I have a job interview today,’ and someone will say, ‘Good luck!’ ‘Hope it goes well!’ ‘Let us know,’ you know, and then I have a smaller WhatsApp group of some of my closer friends from the program,” he says. “They’re very supportive and encouraging, and I feel like it’s the kind of community where I’m going to be in contact with these people long-term.”
Advice for Prospective Students
If you’re considering a remote program, Harris recommends keeping your learning preferences in mind.
“Knowing yourself, knowing what your preferences are, knowing your learning styles—thinking about that can help you make a decision about whether online learning is right for you or not,” he says.
He also recommends thinking about what you want your career to look like over the next five to 10 years.
“Cyber is a field that is constantly developing just by virtue that we’re dealing with vulnerabilities and risk. There’s always a new threat, so there always has to be a new defense,” he says. “What I really loved about cyber is that I’m working with people who are curious and driven to keep developing their skills and their knowledge set.”
In addition to being surrounded by students who share his values, Harris emphasizes that from a practical standpoint, cyber is a great field to get into.
“There’s endless opportunity for learning and growth, and there’s also good job security, and then people who are really concerned with making a difference in the world and doing good things—like protecting people—so in my experience, very honest and very trustworthy coworkers,” he says.
We want to make sure you feel confident about learning remotely, so we’re talking to our alums who have experienced online learning at Fullstack to hear how it went—from the curriculum to the community and connections they made. Learn more about the Fullstack experience with alum Sean Heholt’s story.