LearnKey Blog

A Super Passion for Cybersecurity and Advice for Newbies

“My advice to everyone trying to be more cyber-secure is to start at the beginning: passwords.”

In the BBC series Sherlock, the pilot episode begins with Dr. Watson, an ex-soldier, being told to start a blog and write about everything that happens to him. His response is, “Nothing happens to me.” My employer asked if I would write a blog about cybersecurity events and how an analyst thinks. Before I switched from my previous career to cybersecurity, I would have said the same thing as Dr. Watson—“Nothing happens to me.” Being a military veteran myself, when you compare the life of a soldier to others’ lifestyles, it seems like nothing happens in the civilian world. But, like Dr. Watson, once one finds a career that brings their passion back, they can suddenly blog. I have found my passion again in all things cybersecurity, and I hope you find that passion helpful and engaging. I will not be sharing any cases, but tips and practical advice on how to be a blue teamer or defender.

As a defender, you are not an avenger. Instead, you protect—you establish risks, set up parameters, and do cyber hunting in your domain. If you’re wondering where to begin, my advice to everyone trying to be more cyber-secure is to start at the beginning: passwords.

Passwords and MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication)

If you are new to cybersecurity, a password must be replaced with a passphrase and, if possible, a password manager.

Creating a passphrase

1. Level Up Your Password Game. When it comes to passwords, go for the ultimate power-ups! Craft them with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and epic special characters. Beware of newbie moves like using birthdays, common words, and cliché phrases. And to really power up and go for the bonus levels, use a passphrase. Take a quote from your favorite book or movie and mix it up or combine multiple. Here’s an example mashing quotes from The Avengers with The Lord of the Rings:

All who wonder, lack conviction.

We’ll take that passphrase and change certain letters to symbols:

A//whoW0nder,la(kConviction!

Now you have added your signature move with special characters!

2. Save Your Game by Using a Password Vault. Do not let it be game over because you reuse your passwords, or because they are not strong enough, or worse, because you forget them. Get a trusty password vault, and be the superhero of

your online security! With a password vault, you’ll organize your accounts and generate long, strong passwords that even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t crack. With a password vault, you only need to memorize one passphrase or cheat code: one vault to rule them all, one place to find them, one vault to bring them all… well, you get it.

Utilizing MFA

3. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Block Like a Fighting Game Hero! MFA is your secret move, the combo that makes you unbeatable. To unlock MFA, you must master the trifecta of authentication: something you know (your username/password combo), something you have (like your trusty authenticator application), and something you are (like your thumbprint or facial recognition).

First, you unleash your cyber knowledge uppercut, entering your username and password. Next, unleash your right cross and let it fly through the interwebs to connect to your authenticator app, generating a unique code that only you can access to your digital passcode power-up box. With MFA, you become the hero of your digital security. Blocking unauthorized access, you’re ready to TKO an advisory in their tracks from accessing your accounts!

Are you ready to get in the game and ignite your passion for cybersecurity? Then select the start button, stop reading, and start working!

Embracing Change and Trusting Yourself to Thrive

As our work environment changes, we must learn to adapt and evolve to learn new skills and support the organizations we work for. It is difficult, and I experienced this firsthand over the past year.

With a drastic change in our business, I had to learn new skills, take on a new role, and train others on my skills. It’s easy to feel discouraged or overwhelmed. But let me tell you, resilience doesn’t mean you are immune to these emotions; it’s about finding the strength within to adapt and forge ahead. It’s about being able to bounce back from situations that are tough and learning to grow from them. Remember, change can often lead to exciting opportunities and personal growth. In this case, it happened to me.

I have learned now more than ever how to communicate with other team members and my direct supervisor to ensure that our goals are aligned. With the help of my supervisor, I learned not to be afraid to voice my own opinions and ideas. She taught me that my concerns and ideas are valuable and that expressing them confidently will help me not only find my place in this new team but also help with my self-trust and growth.

Group of people on peak mountain climbing helping team work , travel trekking success business concept

I embraced change and remained adaptable during a period of rapid transformation. This allowed me to explore new opportunities and acquire valuable skills. Although the journey was initially intimidating, I learned to navigate unfamiliar territory by being open to shifting directions. As a result, I experienced self-growth even in uncomfortable circumstances.

So, if you are going through a big change, take a moment, breathe, and believe in yourself. Each experience, be it positive or challenging, has helped you get to where you are now.

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Turning Your Passion into a Side Hustle: A Guide to Starting Your Small Biz

So, you’re thinking about starting a small business? Awesome! Get ready for a rollercoaster of excitement, challenges, and a whole lot of cool moments. This guide is here to help you go from daydreaming to doing it! Let’s get into it!

 

Dream It, Define It:

First things first, what’s your vibe? What problem do you want to solve? What unique product or service do you want to offer?

Next, nail down and define your vision and your why. This is a personal statement that should help potential customers see why your business is important and inspire positivity and action. Your vision will also help keep you going when the small business life gets a little too real.

Audience:

Even though you may think that EVERYONE would love your product (and they might), you need to be honest with yourself and scope out who and what age range you want to direct your marketing toward. To help narrow down your audience, think about who benefits from what you’re putting out there and what makes you different. You can also check out your competitors and see what they are doing to push their products. Eventually, you will find your niche and will be ready to bring your take to the scene.

 Sketch Out a Business Plan:

Time for a plan, but don’t stress out! This is just your roadmap, not a strict rulebook. I can’t tell you how many times I pivoted when building my business plan…and I still do! Start with the basics: what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, how you’ll get the word out, and where you want to be in a year. I like to call this my brain dump! Any and all ideas, just get them out and onto paper! Once you get everything down on paper you can create achievable goals to help you move forward one step at a time.

Legalities:

Sort out the paperwork, grab any licenses you need, and make sure you have all your state requirements done! If you are in business with a best friend or partner, make sure that all expectations and details are agreed to and written down. You can go here to follow the steps and learn more.

Cash Flow:

What are your start-up costs? Determine where your initial cash investment will come from. Are you rolling with savings and loans, or getting the squad involved? Whatever you decide, keep it simple but smart. When you get sales, where is that money going to go? If available, consider opening a business bank account, and sort out some simple accounting (there are many online accounting programs available).

Brand Vibes:

Time to brand yourself. What’s your vibe? Create a logo, nail down your visual style, and tell your story. I really love to use “mood boards” to make sure my brand has a cohesive feel. You can do this by gathering photos online and adding them to a Word doc, or my personal fav, creating a board on Pinterest! Consistent branding is like having a solid music playlist –people start recognizing your tunes. 

The Online Game:

We live in a day and age where EVERYTHING is online. So, set up a website, get on social media where your target audience hangs out, and maybe dip your toes into online sales. Being online is like having a 24/7 open mic for your business!

Connect the Dots:

Networking is just making friends in the business world. Hit up events, join some online groups, and connect with other small business owners. I have made some of my closest friends by collaborating with other businesses. Don’t be afraid to reach out and start connecting with people!

Treat Your Customers Like VIPs:

Customer service is the secret sauce. Treat your customers like VIPs – listen to what they’re saying, be open and appreciative of feedback, and always look for ways to level up your game. Always be willing to go above and beyond. Happy customers are your best promoters.

Roll with the Punches:

The one thing you can count on when running a small business is that things change! Not everything is going to go exactly how you plan it. Sometimes you will be flying high, and others, you will be hitting rock bottom. Stay flexible, keep an eye on what’s new, and be ready to switch things up. The best businesses are the ones that can ride the waves and come out on top. Remember your company vision and why. This will help you keep going when things get hard.

Conclusion:

I would recommend you take a course to really give you that extra oomph to start your business. This one here is a good one to start with! Starting a small biz is like starting a band – it’s a journey full of highs, lows, and killer tunes. Keep it simple, stay true to your vision, and enjoy the ride!

 

Where to Start in Coding: Asking the Right Questions

My coding journey

A Texas Instruments TI-82 graphing calculator with a dark gray casing and a sliding cover partially removed to reveal the keypad and screen. The calculator features a large rectangular screen at the top and a variety of buttons below, including numerical keys and function buttons like 'SIN,' 'COS,' 'TAN,' a directional pad, and special keys for graphing functions such as 'Y=', 'WINDOW', 'ZOOM', 'TRACE', and 'GRAPH'.

Image courtesy YugCC BY-SA 3.0 DEED, via Wikimedia Commons.

When I was 13, my dad brought home a TI-82 graphing calculator and manual that had been abandoned at his workplace. I stared at the huge 9,024-pixel screen and giant array of 50 buttons and felt an overwhelming combination of curiosity and confusion. 27 of these buttons were a complete mystery to me. “What the heck is a COS?” I wondered, “And what does it have to do with sinning, tanning, and abs? And how do you even turn this thing off?”

I started experimenting. Most of those “extra” buttons caused errors or did things I didn’t understand. The calculator’s manual, the TI-82 Graphics Calculator Guidebook, was 300 pages long. I was frustrated with my lack of knowledge, but I knew I could find some answers if I were patient. My patience paid off when I learned from the manual that adding a random number after COS would return a long decimal number. This was exciting to me, even though I still had no idea what a cosine was. I followed the examples in the manual to learn how to use many of the other keys.

After a while, one button stood out above the rest: on the seventh row up was a button marked PRGM. I had heard of programming before, but I didn’t know what it meant.

As I tried the code snippets in the guidebook, I wondered how I could use each feature to create fun or useful things. Eventually, I coded card games, board games, a ping pong and snake game, a cash register program, and many other programs to help me with my schoolwork and personal projects . . . all in the Texas Instruments flavor of the BASIC programming language.

This experience launched my fascination with and use of coding. I pursued other languages in high school and took programming courses in college. I started a career in IT and began using coding to create business applications to help others.

Asking productive questions when searching for an organic entry point

My journey in programming stemmed from natural curiosity, without preconceived expectations or the need to bring in a salary. However, as a programming tutor and IT professional, I have seen many adult learners struggle to find an organic entry point into coding. In my experience, there are some common questions beginning developers have:

  • Which development environment (IDE) should I use?
  • Which language should I learn first?
  • Should I learn front-end (what users interact with), back-end (server-side processes), or full-stack (both front-end and back-end)?
  • What application should I code first?
  • How soon can I make money programming?

You can find a variety of conflicting, strongly worded answers to these questions online. Some would-be programmers quickly develop resource fatigue and become discouraged before they even start. If you’re spending a lot of time on these questions or if you feel confused about how to begin, this post is for you.

Remember: confusion is often the first step in learning something new.

While the questions I mentioned are common among beginners, they often lead to a narrow view of what programming entails. I hope to answer those questions by exploring a smaller, more productive set of questions:

  1. What skills do I need to develop for a sustainable career in coding?
  2. How can I identify my strengths and interests in programming?
  3. What can I do to avoid burnout while building practical coding skills?

These questions can guide you toward becoming a proficient coder and help you understand broader, often overlooked aspects of programming. I hope to share some of the concepts that I have learned from both my personal experiences and my professional interactions, and I hope they will help guide you through the early stages of your coding adventure.

1. What skills do I need to develop for a sustainable career in coding?

While technical skills are essential in coding, life skills like communication, problem-solving, patience, and persistence are equally important. These skills often go underestimated but significantly affect a coder’s efficiency and ability to handle complex projects.

Learn effective communication and documentation

A bright yellow rubber duck sits in front of a MacBook with an open code editor on the screen, displaying lines of code. The image captures the practice of 'rubber duck debugging,' where programmers explain their code to an inanimate object, like a rubber duck, to debug it more effectively. In the background, notes and another rubber duck are partially visible, indicating a collaborative or educational setting.

Rubber duck debugging in action. Image courtesy Tom MorrisCC BY-SA 3.0 DEED, via Wikimedia Commons.
In programming, explaining complex code to a rubber duck is a humorous yet effective way to find solutions to problems by clarifying your thoughts.

In my experience, the best way to increase your efficiency as a programmer is to learn to communicate clearly and succinctly. Effective communication is vital in programming, not just in writing code but also in documenting your work and collaborating with others. I can’t tell you how many times I have written important code, put it in a production environment, and then had to completely reverse engineer it months or years later to fix a simple problem when, if I had spent a little extra time documenting my rationale, I could have saved a lot of stress and time overall.

Although the ideal scenario is to write code that is intuitive and self-explanatory, I try to prepare for the worst-case scenario. In my practice, I often write almost as many lines of comments as I do of code, preparing for scenarios where the code’s purpose isn’t immediately clear. This approach ensures clear and comprehensive documentation, which is important for internal use and also establishes trust and usability in the wider developer community. Whether you comment inline or with whitepapers or knowledge bases, well-documented code enhances collaboration, boosts your reputation for quality, and reflects a commitment to professionalism and transparency. Future you and your coworkers will greatly appreciate this level of detail, especially when revisiting complex code later.

Two individuals in an office setting, focusing on a large computer screen displaying colorful lines of code. One person is typing on a keyboard, while the other is pointing at a specific section of the code on the screen, suggesting a collaborative effort in coding or debugging. The workspace is bright and modern, with additional monitors, notepads, and a cup of coffee indicating a productive environment.

Popular media often portrays coders as enigmatic figures, crafting cryptic walls of code decipherable only by machines or other “coding wizards.” This portrayal, while dramatic, isn’t accurate or helpful. In reality, the best programmers prioritize clarity and accessibility in their code. Code isn’t just about instructing a computer; it’s a form of communication with others, including our future selves.

Gain basic computing skills

Familiarity with basic computing concepts is a prerequisite for diving into programming. You will need to know how to manage directories, open files, browse the web efficiently, and perform fundamental operations like copying and pasting. The IC3 courseware from LearnKey offers comprehensive training in computing fundamentals, key applications, and living online, providing a strong foundation for aspiring programmers.

For comprehensive training in essential computing skills, consider LearnKey’s Information Technology Specialist Courseware, an excellent starting point for your programming journey.

Develop logical thinking and mind mapping

A professional in business attire is sketching a Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) diagram on a transparent board with a marker. The BPMN diagram includes standard symbols such as diamonds for decision points and arrows for flow direction, illustrating the systematic planning of a business process flow, a technique commonly used in programming and project management to visualize and improve processes.

Developing logical thinking skills is vital for efficient problem-solving and debugging.

I mean formal logic—not common sense, and not even mathematics. Probably half of the bug fixes I have experienced have had to do with faulty logic. Learn how to identify formal fallacies—non-sequiturs—and practice over and over again. While knowledge of upper math is helpful in certain areas, many programming tasks require logical thinking more than advanced arithmetic.

Alongside logical thinking, learning visual mind-mapping techniques can significantly help you organize and plan your projects. You will need to be able to split a project into its main requirements and then split those requirements into the considerations that go along with each requirement. At least learn the following visual mind-mapping languages:

  • ERD (entity–relationship diagrams)—a standardized visual language for data structures.
  • BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation)—a standardized visual language for procedural flowcharts.
  • Gantt charts—a project management bar chart for organizing task dependencies.

Practice modular engineering

It is important to learn modular design and solid software engineering principles. Think of programming like building a car: each component, like the bolts in an engine, must meet certain standards and work effectively on its own before it can contribute to the larger system. You don’t have to build an engine to determine whether the bolts will work or not. Similarly, each part of your code should serve a specific purpose and be testable independently. This approach may not always be glamorous, and while there will be times that code flows from your fingertips, you will spend much of your time prototyping, retooling, refactoring, and testing. Understanding sound development principles will help you easily navigate complex programming tasks and enable you to create efficient, scalable code.

Read and research

Finally, learn to read patiently and spend a lot of time with official documentation. Programming languages are usually well-documented and sometimes in multiple places, but learning which source works for you in your current programming journey can take time. W3Schools and Stack Overflow are great starting places and quick daily resources for many languages, but you will inevitably need to read whitepapers and the developers’ specifications. Learning where these are sooner rather than later will save you a lot of time.

Start today

You can begin honing these skills today:

  • Write out detailed steps for completing tasks to enhance your logical thinking.
  • Engage in daily writing to improve communication skills and typing speed.
  • Play logic puzzles and strategy games to sharpen your problem-solving ability.
  • Practice mind-mapping on topics you enjoy to get accustomed to organizing complex information.
  • Take an eLearning course to see if that mode of learning works for you. May I suggest one of the courses at LearnKey’s Information Technology Specialist Courseware or LearnKey’s Certiport – IC3 Courseware?

By incorporating these tools and practices, you will enhance your coding efficiency and develop a well-rounded skillset, which will be essential for a successful programming career.

2. How can I identify my strengths and interests in programming?

Many beginners hope that they will have a perfect programming journey—that their first programming language will be perfect for everything they want to do, that they’ll find a dream job right away, that they’ll stay up late at night coding because they love it so much, and that they’ll single-handedly write code that changes the world. The reality is that no programming language is perfect, most beginning coders don’t make huge salaries, most good code is written by teams, and many good programs never see the light of day. But that doesn’t mean that the journey isn’t worth it. In programming, curiosity is its own reward—and the more you learn, the more likely you are to find something you love.

Delay specialization

Many beginning programmers get lost in the weeds worrying about whether to learn front-end, back-end, or full-stack. Others spend too much time figuring out what development environment (IDE) or language to use. Whether you use Visual Studio Code or Notepad++, C++ or JavaScript, the key is to start experimenting. Most of the time, your choice of IDE or language is similar to your choice of clothing—it should suit your use, but if you obsess too much over it, you will never get out the door. Beginners can benefit from simpler environments or text editors, focusing on learning the language without the complexity of advanced tools. You can always switch to different IDEs and languages as your skills and needs evolve. The key is not which language you start with but how thoroughly you grasp that language’s concepts. Remember, the principles you learn in one language usually apply to others, preventing you from becoming just a “script kiddy” who only follows examples without understanding them.

Explore, explore, explore!

A young Asian student is intently working on a laptop in a classroom setting. She is wearing a denim jumper over a long-sleeved shirt and is seated at a white desk. The background is softly focused, with educational posters visible on the wall and other students also working on laptops. The image conveys a sense of focus and concentration, typical of an academic or learning environment where technology and computers are integral tools.

Begin by understanding the fundamentals of how the web works. This knowledge is foundational, regardless of your eventual specialization. Get acquainted with both front-end and back-end concepts. Once you get the basic concepts of one language under your belt, expand your repertoire to include a variety of other languages. This broad base will inform your later choices and provide a well-rounded understanding of web development.

As you explore different languages and technologies, pay attention to what excites you and positively challenges you. Do you enjoy creating visually appealing webpages, or are you more intrigued by the logic and data processing on the server side? Experimenting with various aspects of programming will naturally lead you to discover your strengths and interests.

There’s no rush to specialize, but don’t be afraid to hyperfocus on one aspect if it catches your attention. The field of programming is vast and varied. Permit yourself to explore different paths—front-end, back-end, full-stack, data science, or any other area that piques your interest. Over time, your preferences and strengths will become more apparent, guiding you toward your programming niche.

Cultivate your unique coding path

  • Stay curious and engage with the subject.
  • Read lots of code from different authors. Analyze it until you understand exactly what it does.
  • Choose a beginner-friendly language. For web coding, start with HTML and JavaScript. For data manipulation, Python is a great choice. LearnKey courses provide excellent foundations in these languages: LearnKey’s Information Technology Specialist Courseware
  • Enroll in a good introductory programming course. LearnKey’s Introduction to Programming Concepts course is ideal for beginners, covering the basics of programming logic and structure. For a more in-depth guide, try LearnKey’s Software Development

By following these steps, you’ll establish a solid base in programming, enabling you to confidently explore more complex concepts and languages and discover your talents and interests.

3. What can I do to avoid burnout while building practical coding skills?

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced coder, a sustainable programming career requires pacing yourself to avoid burnout. Regularly updating and improving your skills is critical to staying employable and avoiding the pitfalls of rushing your learning journey.

Set limits

The sheer volume of learning resources available can be overwhelming, leading to indecision about where to start. Rather than getting lost in the sea of options, select a few well-reviewed resources and dedicate daily efforts to thoroughly understanding them. Diving deep into one or two quality resources is more effective than skimming through a multitude of them.

Set small goals

A row of seven dice on a vibrant blue background. All are white with footprints in black, except for the fourth die, which is yellow and features a flag. This image symbolizes the achievement of a goal. This visual metaphorically suggests setting and accomplishing small, incremental goals in a process or journey.

Many beginning programmers start their journey filled with enthusiasm and big dreams. It’s common to envision creating groundbreaking software like a new operating system, a replacement for Google, or an intricate game right from the start. This ambition, while admirable, often overshadows the practical realities of learning to code. The excitement can lead to overestimating your capabilities. Beginners might not yet fully grasp the complexity and skills required for large-scale projects.

Begin with small, manageable projects that are within your current skill level. Choose something your life does not depend on but is useful or fun, like a calculator, a single-screen game, or a time-saver for a frequent manual process. These types of projects are achievable and provide a sense of accomplishment and a solid base for learning.

Having clear, specific objectives is key to staying focused and making progress. Aim to complete small projects that challenge you enough to learn but are not so daunting that they lead to frustration. Each completed project will build your confidence and skills.

Practice Modularity

Big projects can always be broken into smaller projects. This concept is the foundation of modular design or modularity. Modular design not only helps you learn to code but also sets the stage for effective programming and troubleshooting practices. For example, if you’re interested in building a web application, start by thinking about one application component, such as a web form or a simple database interaction. Then ask questions to break it down even further until you have reached one of the most basic elements of that page or interaction. How do you even collect user input? How can you interact with a database? If you treat each part of a program as a self-contained building block, you will be practicing modularity.

Consider enrolling in project-based courses that provide a structured approach to learning. Instruction like LearnKey’s Python v2 course puts modular design in practice, introducing small, manageable modules that could build up to a larger project.

Build your portfolio before seeking a job

One of the best ways to reduce the chances of burnout is to only take jobs for which you are prepared.

Before actively seeking coding jobs, developing a strong coding portfolio is essential. This portfolio should showcase your best work and demonstrate your coding proficiency. Jumping into the job market too early—without a solid grasp of programming languages or a substantial portfolio—can be counterproductive. Consider securing an alternative income source while building your programming skills and portfolio.

Conclusion

My early experiences with a TI-82 calculator sparked a journey of discovery and learning in programming. Your path can also be filled with growth and exploration. Starting with foundational skills and gradually building up to more complex projects is key to a sustainable career in programming. From understanding basic computing concepts to building a robust coding portfolio, every step you take should be well-paced and guided by curiosity, practicality, and a willingness to grow. Resources like LearnKey’s courses can provide the guidance and structure needed. Nevertheless, your personal journey starts with the press of a button, the writing of a line of code, and the willingness to explore the vast and evolving programming landscape.

Do Certifications Still Matter In a Post-Pandemic World?

Certified Image

In a word, yes. Though technology and markets have changed, and attitudes toward working at home vs. working in an office vs. working on an island with a satellite… OK, I’m getting carried away here, but certifications still matter. Our CEO, Jeff Coruccini, outlined this in a blog post at the beginning of the year, but let me add some statistics here about certifications themselves:

According to CompTIA, the certification body for A+, Network+, and Security+, three industry-leading certifications, 96 percent of human resource managers use IT certifications as part of the screening process for candidates. 96 percent; that’s 24 out of every 25 human resource managers. According to Coursera, 59 percent of cybersecurity jobs require at least one related certification.

But lest you think these percentages are limited to IT jobs, consider this. According to Indeed, 62 percent of those surveyed for QuickBooks positions indicated they got a higher starting salary because they obtained a QuickBooks certification. And let me share a personal anecdote. My first IT training full-time position was at a hospital. I had Microsoft Office Suite (MOS) certifications; those certifications put me at the high end of the starting salary range, a full 25% higher than if I had not obtained those certifications.

Certifications are more than proof that one has expertise in the certification earned. They also prove several characteristics that make for an outstanding employee:

  • A willingness to learn, often in a very compact amount of time
  • The ability to study and research
  • The fortitude to finish a project from start to finish
  • The ability to succeed on a task after not succeeding. In this context, that would mean retaking an exam if one does not pass on the first attempt (it happens to the best of us)

So, which IT certifications are most important for those starting an IT career? This article from Coursera lists the top 10 IT certifications in 2023, and we have courses for six of the top seven certifications on the list. If you are looking at an IT career path and have not started the journey of obtaining any certifications, consider this an invitation to do so. I’ll be rooting for your success down your chosen path.

Unlocking Your Future: ACE College Credits and Certification Programs

In today’s fast-paced world, education is more than just a means to an end; it’s a pathway to success and personal growth. At LearnKey, we take this very seriously. As the landscape of education evolves, innovative solutions emerge to bridge the gap between real-world skills and academic achievement. ACE College Credits, a pioneering initiative, is transforming the way students approach higher education by offering a unique opportunity to gain college credits through certification programs. Let’s explore how this program can pave the way for students to accelerate their educational journey and open doors to exciting new possibilities.

The Power of Certification Programs:
Certification programs have gained immense popularity in recent years due to their practical approach to skill development. These programs, often endorsed by industry leaders, provide students with specialized expertise that can be directly applied in the workforce. From IT certifications to healthcare credentials, these programs offer a convenient and focused way to enhance one’s skill set. But what if these certifications could also contribute to your college education?

Enter ACE College Credits:
This innovative program partners with various certification providers, such as our partner Certiport, to evaluate and recommend college credit for completed certifications. Imagine the satisfaction of knowing that the hard work you put into acquiring a valuable certification not only boosts your employability but also contributes to your college journey.

Benefits:
1. **Accelerated Degree Completion**: One of the primary advantages of ACE College Credits is its potential to expedite your degree completion. By earning college credits through certification programs, you can significantly reduce the time it takes to earn a degree, saving both time and money.

2. **Enhanced Employability**: Combining academic knowledge with practical skills gained from certifications makes you a well-rounded and attractive candidate in the job market. Employers value candidates who possess both theoretical understanding and hands-on experience.

3. **Flexibility and Customization**: ACE College Credits provide flexibility, allowing you to tailor your educational journey to align with your interests and career goals. You can choose certifications that resonate with your aspirations, creating a unique blend of expertise.

4. **Transferrable Credits**: Many colleges and universities recognize the value of certifications and accept ACE-recommended credits, allowing you to seamlessly transfer your hard-earned credentials.

5. **Cost-Efficiency**: College education can be expensive, but by utilizing this program, you can potentially reduce the overall cost of your degree. With every earned credit, you inch closer to your degree without additional tuition expenses.

In a world where adaptability and skills are prized, ACE College Credits offer a bridge between the dynamic demands of the job market and the structured realm of academia. By recognizing the value of certification programs, students take charge of their education and pave the way for a brighter future. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate, a working professional, or someone seeking a career change, ACE College Credits can be your key to unlocking a world of opportunities. Embrace this innovative approach, earn credits for your certifications, and embark on a journey that’s uniquely tailored to your aspirations. Your dreams are within reach – take the first step today.

Note: The process for transferring ACE Credits to a college or university differs for each institution; the first step in the process is to get a copy of your transcript.

The next step is to find the college’s transfer credit policies and procedures. Check the college’s catalog or website for “academic policies and procedures” or “transfer credit.” Once you know the correct policies and procedures, complete the process. If you are unable to locate the policies, give the school a call.

LearnKey neither guarantees nor implies that other institutions will accept credit hours or previous training earned at the school. A student who anticipates transferring to another institution should first contact the other institution to determine whether their credit hours or previous training will transfer. Policies governing the transferability of credits vary greatly from school to school.

Benefits of Building Self-Trust and Credibility

In today’s world, engaging with team members effectively, including who you report to, who reports to you, and those you interact with daily, is a key component of your success. It also plays a key role in your personal life.

Do you struggle with imposter syndrome, second-guessing your decisions, or having difficulty building trusting relationships with others? If so, you may be experiencing a lack of self-trust, which can significantly impact your personal and professional life.

As part of our Leadership Development Series, we have just released a course we produced on Building Self-Trust and Credibility. You will learn to become a more confident and trustworthy leader. Some of the key benefits in honing your skills in this area include:

  1. Confidence and Self-Esteem: When you trust yourself and have a strong sense of credibility, your self-confidence and self-esteem naturally improve. You believe in your abilities, which enables you to tackle challenges and take risks with a positive outlook.
  2. Resilience: Self-trust and credibility act as a buffer during difficult times. When you trust yourself, you are better equipped to bounce back from setbacks and failures. This resilience helps you maintain a growth mindset and keep pushing forward.
  3. Positive Relationships: Trust is a fundamental aspect of any relationship, and that includes the relationship you have with yourself. By building self-trust and credibility, you cultivate a healthier self-relationship, which can positively impact your relationships with others as well.
  4. Effective Decision-Making: Trusting yourself means having faith in your judgment and decision-making abilities. This translates to more efficient and effective decision-making, as you are less likely to second-guess yourself or be paralyzed by doubt.
  5. Increased Motivation: When you have self-trust and credibility, you are more motivated to pursue your goals and aspirations. You believe that your efforts will yield results, leading to increased motivation and productivity.
  6. Enhanced Leadership: In professional settings, building credibility is vital for effective leadership. Trustworthy leaders inspire confidence and loyalty in their teams, fostering a positive work environment and improving overall team performance.
  7. Authenticity: Self-trust allows you to be more authentic and true to yourself. You can make decisions that align with your values and principles, leading to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.
  8. Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Doubting oneself constantly can lead to high stress and anxiety levels. Building self-trust and credibility can reduce these negative emotions, promoting better mental and emotional well-being.
  9. Professional Growth: Credibility is essential for career advancement. When you are seen as trustworthy and reliable in your professional life, you are more likely to be given important responsibilities and opportunities for growth.
  10. Enhanced Communication: Trustworthiness is a critical component of effective communication. When you have credibility, people are more likely to listen to you, take your opinions seriously, and engage in meaningful dialogue.

Remember, building self-trust and credibility is an ongoing process. We break it down into three critical areas to support the above: Strengthening self-trust, Establishing credibility, and Developing trusting relationships.

The benefits of cultivating these traits can have a profound and positive impact on various aspects of your life.

Are you engaged in your job?

Success is a journey that varies for each individual, shaped by unique experiences, aspirations, and the personal drive to accomplish goals. While success may have different meanings to different people, the fundamental elements that contribute to achieving it remain universal. At LearnKey lifelong learning is something we strive to deliver with every course we create.

Many studies have shown that when people have a better self-understanding of what matters to them, they can bring their best skills and talents to their work and find more enjoyment with others at work. Employees who feel connected to their organization work harder, stay longer, and motivate others to do the same. LearnKey’s My Success Drivers course, will teach you your success drivers and how to use them effectively. Here are four (4) key points to consider when you successfully leverage your talents into your career:

    1. Increased Engagement and Job Satisfaction:
      • According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, employees who are engaged and enjoy their work are more likely to be productive and loyal to their organizations.
      • A study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that when individuals use their strengths at work, they experience higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement.
    2. Enhanced Performance and Productivity:
      • Research conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council revealed that employees who can utilize their strengths at work are on average 8% more productive than their peers.
      • A meta-analysis published in the journal Psychological Bulletin concluded that individuals who can apply their strengths in the workplace perform better and achieve higher levels of productivity.
    3. Improved Team Collaboration and Innovation:
      • A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and the Network for Executive Women found that diverse teams with inclusive cultures outperform their peers in innovation and overall performance.
      • The Harvard Business Review reported that when team members appreciate and utilize each other’s strengths, there is an increase in collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.
    4. Positive Work Relationships and Well-being:
      • A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that positive social connections and friendships at work contribute to higher levels of job satisfaction and overall well-being.
      • Research by the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy showed that happiness leads to a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappy workers are 10% less productive.

These findings suggest that when individuals bring their best skills and talents to their work and find enjoyment with others, it can lead to increased engagement, job satisfaction, performance, collaboration, and overall well-being. These trends demonstrate the positive impact of leveraging strengths and cultivating positive relationships in the workplace.

 

Improve employee engagement through delivering constructive feedback

We have kicked off our Leadership Development Series, releasing our first course on delivering constructive feedback that teaches you to set the stage, check yourself, and follow the process for the best outcome.

In any professional or personal relationship, effective communication plays a pivotal role. A crucial aspect of communication is the ability to deliver constructive feedback, which can help individuals grow and improve. However, delivering feedback can be a challenging task that requires finesse, tact, and empathy. Take into consideration that:

  • 65% of employees want more feedback than they are currently receiving. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • Employees who receive regular feedback feel more engaged at work and are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged than those who don’t receive feedback. (Source: Forbes)
  • 92% of employees believe that negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance. (Source: Zenger Folkman)
  • 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback over praise or recognition. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • Companies that implement regular feedback have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than for employees who receive no feedback. (Source: Gallup)

That is why we created a course you can complete that helps you avoid these obstacles. Emotional reactions – one of the primary challenges of delivering constructive feedback is managing emotional reactions. Receiving criticism, even when well-intended, can evoke defensive responses, anxiety, or even hostility. To address this challenge, it is essential to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Begin by acknowledging the person’s emotions and creating a safe environment for open dialogue. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings, and be prepared to listen actively without judgment. Make sure you balance honesty and diplomacy; balancing honesty and diplomacy is another hurdle. While it is crucial to provide honest and direct feedback, it is equally important to consider the recipient’s feelings and maintain a respectful tone. Strive to frame your feedback in a constructive manner, focusing on specific behaviors or outcomes rather than attacking the individual’s character. By choosing your words thoughtfully and offering suggestions for improvement, you can maintain a healthy balance between honesty and diplomacy.

Finally, the timing and context in which feedback is delivered can significantly impact its effectiveness. Providing feedback immediately after a mistake or during a highly stressful situation may exacerbate emotions and hinder receptiveness. Conversely, delivering feedback too long after the incident may result in diminished impact or a loss of relevance. Optimal timing involves finding a balance between addressing the issue promptly while ensuring the recipient is in a receptive mindset, usually within seven (7) days. Select an appropriate setting that promotes privacy and minimizes distractions, creating a conducive environment for open dialogue.

Delivering constructive feedback is a complex art that requires tact, empathy, and effective communication skills. While challenges may arise, approaching feedback conversations with sensitivity and a focus on growth can foster a positive environment for development. Our course on delivering constructive feedback is geared toward a positive outcome that will inspire positive change and pave the way for personal and professional advancement.

Protect Yourself Online

Evolving Threats

Cybersecurity threats are ever-growing! I for one am not the most up-to-date on what is happening and how I can protect myself. With the rise of hackers, we need to educate ourselves on how to protect our information! I was able to take a short cybersecurity course with a coworker recently and learned how to do just that! And MAN, I have learned that even the simplest things that I was doing were putting myself and others at risk! I wanted to share what I learned from this course.

Protect Yourself When You Leave

By understanding how hackers can get my information I am able to better protect myself, my family, and my coworkers. Work is a place where I have grown comfortable enough around the people I am with that I HARDLY ever lock my computer when I leave my desk to go grab something from the print, refill my water bottle, or run to lunch. Well…that is a big mistake! The idea is that if you don’t lock your work computer when it’s unattended, a hacker is going to stroll up to it, sit down, install some malicious code or swipe some important files, then sneak back out before anyone’s the wiser may seem like something out of a movie but it’s a more common threat than you think. As an employee, you have access to your organization’s data and network. That access alone is something that is valuable to hackers – “access” to company networks and results in the loss of sensitive data, and sometimes financial loss. Even if it’s to walk 10 steps away, take the extra second to lock that computer of yours.

Stay in the Know

Cyber threats are constantly happening around you and the hackers keep getting better and better every passing second. It’s important for us to stay up to date on the latest trends and tactics that are being used. By educating ourselves we can stay ahead of these attacks and threats and protect ourselves and others around us.

LearnKey’s Cybersecurity: Protecting Yourself and Your Organization

This course simplifies what individuals and organizations must do to protect digital assets. Topics include: protecting email, protecting information, protecting devices, physical security, and working remotely.