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- Alumni Series: How Michael Williams Became a Cybersecurity Pentester
- A Veteran Success Story with Antonio Grant
- Leveraging a Cybersecurity Bootcamp to Launch a Career in Tech
- A Veteran Success Story with Zooey Nguyen
A Veteran Success Story with Antonio Grant
I've always wanted to be a hacker.
My name is Tony Grant, I’m a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and I served between the years of 1986 and 1994. My MOS - which stands for Military Occupational Specialty - was in Motor Transportation, specifically in Artillery. My job involved driving all kinds of vehicles that helped to transport troops, supplies, cargo, and anything else that would attach to the trucks.
I spent a total of eight years in the service; five active, and three inactive. While I was originally called back to the Gulf War in 1991, I was not deployed, because by the time I finished training the war was already over and we were sent back.
I am now a 100% permanent total disabled vet, due to an injury that happened back in 1988 out in Twentynine Palms.
My background and experience in IT came after I left the military.
In the wake of the 2008 Silicon Valley bust, I spent 2010 to about 2011 taking part in rebuilding the infrastructure in the tech industry. I started off in cabling; that work eventually led me to work in system and network administration. I had also gone back to school for my business administration degree.
During that time, I ran into one of my buddies who was working with a company specializing in computer installation. Since my background and knowledge in IT was vast, even if most of it was self-taught, he asked if I was interested in a job at that company. I said yes and I ended up getting hired. I discovered Divergence Academy’s Cybersecurity Professional Penetration Tester program while at voc rehab.
Since I was on 100% permanent total disability, I applied for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment— now known as Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)—through Denver’s VA system. While that request was denied, I had some friends in Oklahoma who advised me to apply for voc rehab in Oklahoma instead, and that was granted.
I was looking to pursue something within my area of interest.
When my counselor asked me what it was that I wanted to do, I found myself researching cybersecurity. This was early on before cybersecurity would grow into the field it is today, so there were only a handful of results when you looked up that field.
While going through Divergence Academy’s website, I saw that Pentest+ was specifically mentioned and I understood that as hacking. Since this aligned with my background in IT and my own business in Computer Repair and networking, I decided to give it a shot.
Attending Divergence Academy gave me the opportunity to gain more skills than I could have ever imagined.
I'm a little bit older than most folks who take the program. I’ve also taken courses from other learning providers as far back as 2008 and even as recently as 2012.
While this is largely my experience, I feel that those other programs were not taught the way these kinds of courses are meant to be taught. Whereas at Divergence, there is an immersive hands-on element through labs that allow students to dive deeper into information. You’re given examples of what you need and how you need to do it, and you put those things into practice.
I already considered myself well-versed in the IT field, having been in the industry for some time. But the level of immersion that my cohort and I experienced under the CPPT program was challenging in the best possible way. Taking the course gave me a new perspective on how to see the big picture. The gambit of cybersecurity, networking, Linux, and all the things that encompass cloud computing.
And while I already knew that I had the skill set for pentesting, I had never had the opportunity to practice those skills. I initially thought that I was just going to dabble in hacking, the end result has turned out to be so much more.
Divergence is continuously trying to give us the resources and everything else that we need to be successful in this field.
As a veteran, I feel that going into these emergent fields is another way for soldiers to serve. We’re no longer on the battlefield; we're on the back-end, creating the security that this country needs.
I’m really happy that I now get to help veterans and soldiers who are looking to transition. I get to help them and their families become the best that they can be. I also appreciate that Divergence has engaged in discussions with me to better understand where we can bridge gaps.
I have seen a lot of things in my tenure in IT. And I find it amazing that Divergence is continuously trying to give us the resources and everything else that we need to be successful in this field. There's a lot of growth going on.
To future Divergence learners: it’s important to have the mindset. When you have the mindset, you can achieve anything.
Understand that everything is not going to happen at the time that we want it to happen. But if you continuously work hard and do what's necessary, you will become successful.
Create good study habits and everything will work out for you. It's going to take time and you have to be patient. But know and believe that by putting the work, dedication, and time toward what you're trying to achieve, you will achieve it.
And if you don't have a lot of an IT background, don't worry. Divergence is here to help you become successful.