Classroom Chat: Talking IT Certification with Career College Crowd

Adult raising hand in class

I recently had the delightful opportunity to visit with IT students at Stevens-Henager College in Provo, Utah. Stevens-Henager, established in 1891, is a private, nonprofit, coeducational college offering assorted degree courses in medicine, healthcare, accounting, computers, business and graphic arts. Their curricula also includes, of course, GoCertify's raison d'etre — IT certification training.


Dr. Janet Rose, Associate Dean for the college's School of Technology invited GoCertify to make an appearance and share our love of all things related to certification. I was thrilled when ordered to "get myself hence" on a mission of enlightenment and career edification. I may be just a lowly associate editor, but I'm a lowly associate editor with GoCertify!


(Note from Editor of Indeterminate Rank: There are no lowly associate editors at GoCertify. We think very highly of all our associate editors.)


Most Stevens-Henager students are nontraditional. They work full-time and have significant non-school-related responsibilities that force them to pursue education at unusual hours. These are students who want to learn, and who understand the link between improving their skills and enhancing employment prospects.


I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of the college's main training providers was TestOut Corporation. TestOut is situated just up the road from GoCertify and I was able to bring to bear some hands-on knowledge of their renowned LabSim platform.


I may have been speaking early in the morning and late in the evening, but the students were, like my squirrel-hunting buddy Ellis would say, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to learn. (I think they were impressed to have a genuine "associate editor" in their midst.)


I presented a number of facts and figures dealing with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the need for more trained IT professionals to design, connect, manage and defend the soon-to-be 50 billion internet-connected devices worldwide. I followed up with some background on Big Data and emerging security trends and opportunities, and the importance of certifications. Then I opened the floor to questions.


When it came to employment issues, the students were excited to learn just how much certifications mean to potential employers. We discussed how employers want someone with more than just book learning — they want an IT pro with actual experience working with real-world scenarios. It was pretty cool when Dr. Rose, spoke up and said, "You see now why LabSim is so valuable to your education."


One big question that arose was that of "certifications versus degrees." Which has more clout with employers? Which provides a better foundation for a long-lasting IT career? These topics, of course coud be debated "till the cows come home," as they say, with different opinions and solutions for each person involved.


What can't be debated is the value of an IT certification, and how it's an excellent way to validate IT skills and training from internationally recognized entities, and how certs can help IT people at any stage of their education or careers.


My time with the students was well spent. The next day I dropped by TestOut and spoke to an acquaintance about my presentations at Stevens-Henager. I figured that mentioning how much the college and students like LabSim might net me an invite to lunch. Unfortunately, he was pretty busy and all I got was a heartfelt, "Thanks for mentioning LabSim; it really is a great program." (He probably just forgot that I am an honest-to-goodness associate editor.)


Lesson learned: IT certification may not get you a free lunch (though I did manage to swipe two treats from TestOut's candy dish as I left the building), but it is a great way to find your footing in IT, stay relevant in IT, and create or discover your next employment opportunity in IT. Also, I had a great time sharing information about the importance of certifications with some budding IT pros. Stay certified, my friends.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
Calvin Harper

Calvin Harper is a writer, editor, and publisher who has covered a variety of topics across more than two decades in media. Calvin is a former GoCertify associate editor.