Cyber Student Spotlight: Sean McMahon

With a bachelor’s degree in community studies, a master’s in media studies, and working in IT tech support for UC Berkeley, Sean McMahon noticed an ad for a graduate cyber program that could be completed online. It looked intriguing. The cybersecurity job market is booming and the thought of a cybersecurity career piqued his interest, so he thought, “Why not get more information and see where this goes?”

Sean went on to complete the Cybersecurity Risk Management Graduate Certificate Program (and is completing his Cyber MBA) at Concordia University, St. Paul (CSP) in partnership with Mission Critical Institute. Let’s see what he has to say about the program, its instructors, and why he recommends this approach for advancing your cybersecurity career.

What made you choose the Mission Critical Institute-developed Cybersecurity Risk Management Graduate Program over other programs?

I really liked the ability to become cyber job-ready by learning the NIST Risk Management Framework in the first 40 weeks, on the way to earning an MBA. I could also attend remotely via online classes, in the evening, so I didn’t have to relocate or quit my job to attend school. That was a big plus. Now, I’m on track to finish my MBA in 2018.

Another strong point of the program is that each (of the five) cybersecurity courses help to prepare you for cybersecurity certifications, including the Certified Authorization Professional (CAP) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) from (ISC)2, and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council. I’m studying for the CAP now, and then I’ll pursue the CEH and CISSP. I’m also looking at getting a Cisco certification, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing & Switching.

In what ways did faculty help you prepare for a new career?

The faculty were great–they always made themselves available to answer questions. They’re all experts in their respective fields, representing a wide range of industry’s, from healthcare to three-letter agencies, military, consulting, and so on.

I have used some faculty members as references on job applications (and will continue to do so), which I think boosts my credibility with prospective employers. Susan Cole was particularly helpful regarding potential government jobs and Eric Handy was always highly accessible.

Have your fellow students helped you advance your career? If so, in what ways?

I’ve connected with several classmates on LinkedIn. I can bounce questions off of them regarding job searches, and watch their progress as well. It’s a great way to stay in touch.

What have you found are the best ways to network?

I mainly use LinkedIn. I joined some groups on that site germane to my field, such as the Information Security Community led by Holger Schulze, an advanced persistent threats group, and one for homeland security.

Christine Olyer, Mission Critical Institute program manager, was a great source of inspiration and information. She recommended that I join one or more industry groups, like the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), to network with practitioners in the security field and learn about others’ perspectives.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely, I would recommend the program to anybody. I’m very happy with the quality of my education. The Mission Critical Institute program builds a good foundation for cybersecurity and risk management. I believe the program prepares you to be the type of cyber professional employers want.

Get insights on cybersecurity job trends from Eric Handy, Mission Critical Institute instructor:

Advance your cybersecurity career with Mission Critical Institute.