From FBI Agent to Cybersecurity Professional: David Stone’s Success Story

15/09/2021

Meet David Stone. We recently had a chance to chat and ask him about his experience with our Cybersecurity Professional Program and how it changed his life.

Coming from an incredibly varied background, and looking to start a career that could provide him with a sense of fulfillment and better life-work balance, David was 50-something when he enrolled in the American University Cybersecurity Professional Program

And if he could give his past self a piece of advice?

Life Before the Cybersecurity Professional Program

David spent most of his career in law enforcement and intelligence, working as a detective in the economic crimes unit, and even working for the FBI on highly classified intelligence assignments, including counterespionage around government-sponsored hacking and cyberattacks.

After he retired from the government, he decided to use his MBA and transition into the private sector, contributing his expertise and leadership to the business management side at Target and then Burlington.

When Did You Decide to Make a Change?

Despite finding success in business management, the corporate life left David feeling uninspired and he found himself working up to 80 hours a week at a job that did not fulfill him. 

He knew he wanted to transition into cybersecurity, and he had thought of returning to school to learn new skills and further his career. However, he didn’t trust the courses found online as they weren’t as thorough as he wanted and only lasted a few short weeks. 

Until, finally, he came across an ad for the American University Cybersecurity Professional Program. 

He knew that American University was a top-tier institution he could trust. When he looked further into what the program offered, he realized that he could take the classes while keeping his job. Having two kids, one of whom was in college, flexibility was a major deciding factor for him and his family. 

Digging through the curriculum, David saw that he would receive a cybersecurity education that would allow him to also sit for industry-recognized exams to further specialize in the sector. 

He realized that a big part of the offering included a dedicated career services department that could support his job-search journey.

David’s first-hand experience with cybersecurity and hacking during his government career gave him a unique perspective on the industry: “you look at cyber hacks over time, they are extremely expensive, extremely devastating, they cost a lot of money, and it doesn’t build up confidence in people’s ability to come to spend money and enter a relationship with their favorite places to go shopping or to worship or to vote. So to be able to be part of something that makes society better? That was a no-brainer for me”.

What Was Your Experience with the Program?

When David started attending the American University Cybersecurity Professional Program, he was still working full-time, and often over-time. Balancing work and online classes meant that sometimes he would need to join class on his cell phone while commuting from work.

However, since all classes are recorded, he was able to go back to those recordings on the Panopto platform and review anything he wasn’t clear on or wasn’t able to catch during class.

He started working with the career services department early on, and they helped him a lot in writing a professional resume, “much more detailed than what I had,” David said. They helped to highlight his past experience and the transferable skills he had already built that could easily translate to the cybersecurity industry, resulting in more visibility through his LinkedIn account.

According to David, he had weekly conversations with the program’s career services team, and everybody was “very responsive to the feedback I was getting as I was going through the process”. 

But David didn’t just rely on career services, he also networked with his classmates and instructors. He realized since they were experts currently working in the field, they could also lead him to job opportunities. As a result, he tried to stand out during class as much as possible. “It was the perfect scenario, exactly what I needed.” 

How Did You Land Your Cybersecurity Job?

David is now a Senior Consultant at Optiv Security, a security solutions integrator based out of Denver, CO that delivers end-to-end cybersecurity services globally. He landed the job a couple of months before even completing the American University Cybersecurity Professional Program. One of his instructors recognized his talent and potential and recommended him for the position.

He says the interview process was overall very quick and smooth, with three interviews overall—the first one with HR, the second one with his future manager, and the last one with the vice president of his division. In the end, he got an incredible offer, “they doubled my salary from my previous employer,” David said.

He had the easiest onboarding process he’s ever experienced and couldn’t be happier with his new, fully remote position, describing the company as “an incredible place to be.”  

How Has Your Life Improved?

David’s previous job ate up the vast majority of his time and raised his stress levels to the point that he couldn’t sleep through the night. Plus, he rarely got the chance to spend time with his family or focus on his well-being. 

With his new job in cybersecurity, he is able to sleep again and spend more time with his family, doing activities with his kids, and going on date nights with his wife. He even started jogging again.

“It’s totally worth the investment,” David said.

When asked about his future plans, he said: “I am just focused on the current position, just really enjoying it. I don’t know what the future holds, I can’t really see three years down the road, but the way this company is I can see myself doing 20 years with it.”


To connect with David directly, you can reach out on his LinkedIn page.

If you found his success story inspiring, you might want to follow his advice and enroll in the American University Cybersecurity Professional Program.


Get started today by calling our admissions team at (202) 888-4202 or by using our Calendly to schedule a call at your convenience.

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