Eric Jones III found himself at a job fair in Fort Meade, eager for a new challenge after 15 years in the IT industry. He had been to job fairs before, but this one was different. After starting his education at UMUC, he was equipped with credentials unlike any from his years of experience.
Jones, who's pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Networks and Security, struck up a conversation with a representative from Booz Allen Hamilton. Jones' education and college experiences intrigued the representative, and they continued their conversation over coffee. The conversation soon led to a formal job offer.
Jones has come a long way, from his first IT job at an early web hosting company to working as a network engineer, technology consultant, and network administrator, among other IT roles. But to take his career to new heights and expand his areas of expertise, he needed new skills and credentials.
"I found that I needed to retrain myself and regrow my skills," Jones said. "I wanted to finish my bachelor's degree. … The University [System of] Maryland name and the backing of quality of that name channeled me to UMUC."
As a UMUC student, Jones learned not only technical skills like server technologies, ethical hacking, information systems security, and encryption—he also picked up many business and management skills.
"UMUC has given me a clearly defined, marketable set of skills," he said.
In addition, Jones now has more experience to add to his résumé. He became one of the first members of UMUC's competitive cyber security team, the UMUC Cyber Padawans. He soon found himself taking part in a variety of competitions and security exercises, which he says are invaluable in the job market.
"Businesses want to know how can you help them achieve their objectives more effectively," Jones said. "These [experiences] are a clear demonstration to employers that you are able to use the skills you've acquired."
Jones plans to continue adding new chapters to his story. When he finishes his bachelor's, he has his eyes set on pursuing one of UMUC's graduate programs in cyber security, with a focus on policy and procedure.