The relationship between soccer and cybersecurity is not evident to most, but to Jeremiah Hainly, it is quite clear. A life-long athlete and self-described computer/gamer geek, Jeremiah explains that the thrill of defending the goal from rivals is akin to the thrill of shielding his employer's computer systems and networks from cyber criminals. According to Jeremiah, "My job lets me channel my competitive drive, an instinct I honed many years ago on the soccer field, and marry it with my love for technology. What could be better than that?"
An Ambitious Journey
Jeremiah, who holds 13 industry-recognized GIAC certifications, is a March 2019 graduate of the SANS Technology Institute (SANS.edu) where he earned a Master of Science in Information Security Engineering (MSISE).
When it comes to his education and career, Jeremiah did not skip a beat. In December 2015, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Security and Risk Analysis from Penn State Harrisburg. The following month, Jeremiah was hired as a cyber defense analyst at The Hershey Company, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world. Less than 120 days later, this ambitious cyber defense analyst enrolled in the SANS Technology Institute. Today, Jeremiah is a senior cyber defense analyst at the confectionary behemoth.
A Deeper Dive/Real World Knowledge
When asked why he chose to move so quickly from undergraduate degree to graduate degree, Jeremiah replied, "I was not fully satisfied with what I learned during my tenure at Penn State. I knew that there was a depth of knowledge that I had yet to explore. After taking a SANS course at the suggestion of a colleague, I fell in love with the program. I knew that a SANS Technology Institute degree would make me stand out among my peers and help me build my confidence in a field where up-to-the-minute knowledge can be a game-changer. I saw no need to wait."
Jeremiah recommends a "test drive" for those interested in the SANS Technology Institute's graduate degree program but unsure about making a commitment. He suggests, "Take one or two classes to get a sense of the experience. You won't be disappointed. After I 'tested the waters,' I was fully secure in my decision to commit to the program."
What differentiates SANS.edu from other similar graduate degree programs out there? According to Jeremiah, he found no other graduate degree program that offers industry-recognized certifications. Further, he talked about the SANS Technology Institute instructors. "SANS instructors are active professionals in the field. They are guaranteed to have real world experience and are up-to-date on the latest trends in the industry. This is a tremendous benefit when dealing with an industry that's constantly evolving," he explained.
A Career Gamechanger
For Jeremiah, SANS.edu exceeded his expectations. "I was hoping that the SANS graduate degree program would help me feel more comfortable working in information security as I took on more projects in what was, to me, uncharted territory. However, I did not expect this new-found confidence to translate into a solid workplace reputation as someone who can quickly jump in on varying projects and tackle unexpected challenges."
Jeremiah blended both online courses with as many live events as he was able. "Invaluable" is how he describes the live events. "The networking opportunities with peers and instructors were astonishing. I wish time and budget allowed me to participate in more live events." In fact, Jeremiah says that the networking opportunity is what he likes most about the program. He reports graduating from SANS Technology Institute with a strong network of peer contacts who serve as a regular sounding board and support system for both security and career advice.
A Bright Future
Jeremiah says that while he is a natural introvert, the SANS Technology Institute's speaking and writing requirements helped pull him out of his shell. "I am setting my sights on a future leadership role. To achieve this goal, I started diving into leadership books and pushing myself beyond my comfort level in a way that, until my experience with SANS.edu, I would not have thought possible."