Alysia Stark hopes to gain hands-on experience through Coastline apprenticeship program
Alysia Stark has always had an interest in technology, but it wasn’t until her son, Oliver, began competing on a CyberPatriot team that she thought of it as something she could do as a career.
Stark is currently pursuing an associate degree at Coastline Community College and is in the process of applying for the school’s Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program. She spent most of her career as a graphic designer and was a little apprehensive at first about making the change.
“I did some web design back in 1995, but when things progressed to needing to hire a programmer, I stayed on the creative side of it,” Stark said. “My son inspired me through CyberPatriot and after hearing how exciting it was, I signed up for classes that day or the next day.”
Stark began taking classes at Coastline in fall 2016 and has maintained a 4.0 GPA ever since. She’s enjoyed the classes she’s taken so far but is looking forward to putting some of those skills to use through the apprenticeship program.
“Coastline has been awesome and I’m really happy with the instruction I’ve received so far,” Stark said. “I’m eager to put some of it to use. I don’t have the resources or space or time to build my own system and need to get my hands on stuff to really understand how things work.”
Steve Linthicum, Deputy Sector Navigator for Information Communication Technologies and Digital Media in the Orange County Region, coordinates the apprenticeship program and said he’s learned a few things from Stark that have carried over to the rest of his students.
“In a conversation I had with Alysia during the semester break, she told me about her joining the Information Technology Disaster Recovery Center and the organization's mission. After reviewing the Center's website, I decided to join, and I'm now advising students in Coastline's Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program to do the same,” Linthicum said. “Participating in volunteer activities provides students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience and network with cybersecurity professionals participating in organizational activities.”
Stark does not have any set career plan in mind once she finishes her degree. Wherever she ends up, she is excited about the opportunity to help others through cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity itself is challenging which that’s part of what draws me to it,” she said. “I think it’s meaningful work trying to make the world a safer place and there’s a very rewarding aspect to it.”