A Veterans Career Path: From In-Person Warrior to Cyber Warrior 

Mark Hopkins spent 30 years in the U.S. Army where he had about nine different roles from commander to inspector general and many in between. Mark’s very last assignment was at West Point where he held a teaching position in the mathematics department. When Mark retired, he wanted to switch industries and decided to pursue a career in Information Technology (IT). “From IT, I decided to pursue cybersecurity specifically. It’s like being a warrior but in a different domain. I had all that military experience and I thought maybe it will transfer into the cyber domain,” recalls Mark. In 2020, Mark jumped into this new endeavor by taking as many IT courses as possible. This past summer, seeking to continue his IT knowledge, Mark enrolled in The Chicago Cook Tech Academy, a veterans-only opportunity offered by National Able Network and IT Career Lab.  

Over the next eleven weeks, Mark participated in the training and study opportunities available in the program. “I thought that the format was very good. We had a week of class and a week of study, a week of class, and a week of study, and so on. It was a good format because it gave you a chance to absorb the material while class was still going on. Usually, classes go six weeks straight through and out of 10 students maybe 2 will take and pass the exam. So, this format was great,” says Mark.  

At the end of the course, Mark took and passed the certification exams for both the CompTIA Network+ and Microsoft Azure certifications! He worked with National Able Network’s Business Services Representative, Christina Cecchin, to fine-tune his resume and attended Techapalooza, an IT-focused career event where he quickly applied for a position tailor-made to his skills. Of his successful experience in The Chicago Cook Tech Academy Mark says, “I have a little bit more tools in the toolbox and I’m a much stronger applicant. I know I can step in anywhere and do a job.”