Some enroll in the course with a natural predisposition for technology. Others come with a beginner’s skill with a keyboard. One has a university degree in Arts. Another is trained in Web Design. They are full-time moms, teachers, and recent high school graduates. They all share a single aspiration: to start a career in information technology (IT) and cyber.
“I heard about Forge Institute from my great aunt, who had attended the Arkansas Rural Development conference in October of last year,” said Meagan, a recent graduate of Forge Institute’s IT Fundamentals Program. “There she met Mr. Charles Landrum, director of grants and community management in the office of US Congressman Rick Crawford, and asked him about the grants available to people living in the Delta. Shortly after, she sent him an email with information about this program.”
“I decided to apply to the IT/Cyber Fundamentals course because I wanted to jump into a high-demand career,” said Tyler, another recent graduate of the program.
Like many Arkansans, Tyler was intrigued by the economic promise of IT/Cyber, with services expected to reach a valuation of $87 billion by 2025. The demand for skilled, well-trained IT professionals is growing, and programs like IT/Cyber The fundamentals course at Forge Institute is filling up. Those who complete the training find that the lessons learned and skills gained open a variety of doors.
“My next step is to merge my Bachelor of Theater Arts degree, my IT/Cyber Fundamentals certificate, and my love of forensic science,” said Shelia, who also recently completed the training.
The IT/Cyber Fundamentals program appeals to all types of people because the industry itself is applicable to all types of skill sets, personalities, and career goals. You can no longer imagine an IT specialist as a code-muttering introvert locked inside a closet full of servers. Instead, IT and cyber professionals are problem solvers dedicated to serving as the conduit between people, data, and technology.
“Arkansans are ready for IT because they aren’t intimidated by technology,” said Scott Anderson, executive director of the Forge Institute. “Arkansans adapt. We are intuitive. And we know a good opportunity when we see one. As the world shifts to digital, IT professionals will only see their value increase.”
While IT professionals are in demand, their value increases with their skill set. That’s why it’s important to get instructor-led training from cyber veterans with real-world experience. After all, cyber is always evolving. Yesterday’s challenges are rarely case studies relevant to today’s cyber landscape.
Megan agreed. “The world of IT is always evolving and I know I have to evolve with it,” she said. “I can do that by always being willing to learn more. I’m also interested in getting as much work experience as possible.”
Shelia echoed the sentiment by stressing the depth of the IT Foundations curriculum. “This program introduced me to many aspects of cybersecurity, giving me the opportunity to hone in on what I love: cyber forensics.”
While there are a number of information technology classes available online, Forge Institute’s IT/Cyber Fundamentals course gives students one-on-one access to experienced cyber professionals. The course covers six different areas in IT and cyber, providing the basic knowledge in which the participants can grow further. Topics covered range from cybersecurity to network administration, operating systems, and troubleshooting.
“Our mantra is ‘Forever One Step Ahead,’” Anderson said. “That goes from Fortune 500 organizations that want to fend off the worst in the world to people who want to up their cybersecurity skills. The transformation we see in people like Meagan and Shiela is incredibly rewarding. They are going to leave an impact on this world.”
Headquartered in Little Rock, Forge Institute provides training in cybersecurity, data science, and emerging technologies for business teams and individuals seeking to advance their careers. For more information about their academic programs, visit the website.