I wanted to share my experience with Vet Tec and some of the stuff I used so that I can share the wealth. Links to websites and free learning below.
I graduated from Fullstack Academy – NYC, Fulltime, Cyber Security Program 05/2022.
During the initial enrollment, I was asked to complete an admissions form and general Vet Tec application documents. The VA didn’t officially approve my enrollment until roughly 20 days into the course, but I was cleared by the program manager to continue as there was a backlog at the VA. One month before the course started I was accepted by Fullstack Academy, but I had to wait before getting access to the school website due to their enrollment criteria that specified how many Veterans using Vet Tec could apply vs Civies. Once the course started I found that the program was helpful and worked from the basics of Linux, all the way to setting up AWS instances for threat monitoring.
What did I learn???
Fullstack started from the basics of Linux using their own version of mint Linux to teach us the basics of navigation and directories. From there we went into the basics of security and course study, followed by Red Team. Fullstacks course primarily pushes Blue Team and AWS, so if you are interested solely in Red Team, you may want to check out another course provider.
6 months to get a job???
I have had two interviews since graduating and was offered a job on the spot at my last interview. If you can effectively connect your background and military service with Cyber Security you should have no problem. There are alot of jobs open for Cyber and employers love to hire Veterans. Most course providers have to either agree to provide career services or refer you back to the VA. As always, work with the staff at your academy. You can get a job as long as you remain realistic and centered with expectations.
Do I have to pay money back if I fail, quit, or don’t get a job???
Yes, No…..ehhh? So most course providers will work with the VA based on a 25,25,50 split of funds. 25% when you enroll is paid to the school. 25% is paid to the school when you graduate, and the remaining 50% is released once you get a job. Several students came prepared to jump-start the rumor mill that if you do not get a job within 6 months after graduating that the school/course provider could/would send debt collectors after you for the remaining 50%. Fullstack does not do this, but I can not speak to other schools’ practices. If you quit mid-program, you are required to pay back the BAH you received up until that point, so be careful and sure that the program you chose is right for you. As stated earlier, maintain contact and clear communication with your instructors/Vet Tec liaison. The VA has updated BAH rates as of June 1st, 2022 so be sure to ask your Vet Tec regional office if you have any questions. You will receive a benefits letter from Vet Tec once you are awarded access to the education, read it carefully.
Can you fail???
There were several Veterans in my cohort who asked if they could fail the program, and from what I saw….NO*******. They will work with you to move through each module and they are very understanding that it is a lot of coursework in a short period of time. Extra credit is an option if you assessment scores are subpar, but as long as you are motivated and transparent with the instructors you should be fine.
*******So long as you continue to never give up on the training and complete all assignments AND work with instructors.
What certifications did I get from Fullstack???
Other than a generic course certificate, nothing. Many course providers do not actually offer big-name licensed certs during the course but will give you a week during the middle of the program to take those tests. Those tests can range from $50-$1,000+ so it is not in their interest to offer them, especially when you may or may not be ready to take the test, and may not have even figured out what side of Cyber Security you’d wish to follow (Red/Blue). I used Coursera and Linkedin Learning throughout the course to take the IBM Cyber Security Professional certification and several CBT’s. I got AWS practitioner and working towards SEC+.
What is the BAH rate???
Bad news, as of June 1st, 2022 the VA has removed the option for full-time BAH rates for remote students. The only way you can receive full BAH from New York ($3,000+) is to attend in person, and several course providers have expressed interest in having remote-only learning. Contact your potential course provider and ask to speak to a Vet Tec liaison who can provide more information. At this time Fullstack is reporting that the BAH for a fulltime student using remote learning is E-5/half-rate. There are several course providers, so be sure to check with the ones you are interested in to be sure.
Tips, tricks, and troubleshooting???
Do not openly push that you are a Veteran receiving free education through Vet Tec with the other students. This happened in my class and it did not end well. Most civies know we have the opportunity to use free education, and since most of the courses cost well over $15K there should never be a time to make that a point for negative interaction. Most of the teachers are completely aware that we use the VA for medical and have to go to appointments so that went easy enough. The biggest rule should always be to ask questions and never leave class until you understand. The instructors are there to make sure you understand and succeed. Pre-work, in-class reading, homework, and studying on the weekends are all a given for this type of program, but be sure to ask all of the questions to ensure your own success. How do you access the learning? Gameboy? … Computer. Please ensure that your computer has enough hard drive space (atleast 60 Gigabytes) and has enough RAM (at least 8 Gigabytes) to get the job done. If you are interested in working remotely and would like to take this course or another through Vet Tec, but you are not feeling overly confident with computers then read on to the next section where I will cover websites where you can get FREE certs and training on almost anything.
LinkedIn Learning + LinkedIn Premium
Note: LinkedIn has tons of certifications and all of them immediately update your profile. IF you do not have a LinkedIn profile please create one before using Vet Tec. This will be extremely beneficial for networking and resume management later. Application available for Android & IOS
Military One Source
Note: MOS has a lot of services for Veterans and serves as a connection to the next link.
Note: Most course providers will request that you purchase Cysa or Sec+ study books to prepare for testing….STOP! They are free to Veterans who have access to O’Reilly. This website has interactive learning, workshops, videos, study books, and even the links for the test in the catalog. Application available for Android & IOS
Note: Coursera is offered to Veterans for FREE but you have to be registered in order to get access. Please allow roughly 48 hours for the process to complete and the token email will most likely end up in your spam folder. Coursera is great and FREE! Application available for Android & IOS
Service Member Cheat Sheet
Note: quite possibly the most comprehensive list of services, benefits, and opportunities available to Veterans that I have seen. Disclaimer, I did not create this sheet.
I hope some of this will help someone, and if anyone has any questions feel free to ask!