Less than 24 hours after Christian Kozarian graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense, he had a job in his chosen career field.
How's that for pomp, circumstance and ROI?
''I graduated on Sunday, April 28, and started the new position on Monday, April 29, 2019,'' he said. ''I went from a more traditional information technology job to a security position within my company. They told me that whenever I graduated, I could transition into a new role that was better suited to my degree. It worked out well.''
Kozarian enrolled at EMU straight out of high school. He started as an intern at the company he works for now during his sophomore year. Since then, Kozarian has worked full time while taking courses both on campus and online in the hybrid format.
''Without the online portion of the program, there is no way I could have finished on time and worked a full-time job,'' he said. ''It definitely gives you a ton of flexibility. The nice thing is that all of the professors teaching the online classes are also at the university.
"You can still go meet with the professor. They have office hours and are teaching other classes, so you still have that line of communication with them.''
Kozarian attended Howell High School, about 40 miles northwest of EMU, and played football and ran cross country and track for the Highlanders. He also developed a keen interest in working with computers and cyber security.
''I had taken some classes with similar interests in high school,'' he said. ''I had one class where I worked for the school doing several IT tasks during the day. I found out that it was something that I was good at and something that I wanted to pursue.''
However, Kozarian earned a scholarship that allowed him to start a computer engineering degree, which was his original major when he arrived on campus in Ypsilanti.
''Engineering wasn't really my thing,'' he said. ''I switched after my first semester and never looked back. I met with some advisers and figured out this would be the most relevant degree for me right off the bat.
''Eastern is one of the only universities that offered the program that I wanted. When looking through the courses that are available in the program, I knew it was what I wanted to do.''
Once Kozarian officially made the switch to the BS in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense program, he was confident that he had chosen the right career path.
''I like cyber security because it is a newer field,'' he said. ''It has always been something I wanted to check out. I also knew that I wanted to start working in the field as quickly as I could. I was done with typical college jobs, so I did the internship.''
That allowed Kozarian to learn at college and immediately apply his knowledge in the real world. In addition to the advanced security classes in the curriculum, he especially enjoyed the capstone course that wraps up the four-year program.
''You end up working for another company on a security project,'' Kozarian said. ''It exposes you to interacting with clients. It also gives you a firsthand look at what a security job looks like: being given a task, doing research on it, having to do a presentation and, ultimately, putting together a product. That was really useful.''
Now that Kozarian is out of college and learning the ins and outs of his new position, he hopes to make the most of hitting the ground running.
''Honestly, I am not 100 percent sure what my ultimate career goal is,'' he said. ''I do know that I want to keep working in security. My family members were absolutely excited about me graduating and starting a new job. My dad worked in a similar field.''
Kozarian is glad he made the switch to the BS in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense program and feels he is properly prepared to do what he loves for a living.
''I absolutely got good value out of the program,'' he said. ''It's definitely a lot of work, but if you are willing to go through with it and have a passion for technology, it is absolutely worth pursuing. I have no doubt the degree helped me get my job.''
Although Kozarian's career is in its infancy, he is confident the bachelor's degree will continue creating prime opportunities for him in the future.
''There are a lot of jobs in the cyber security field,'' he said. ''Since I have been in the program, I have noticed there is a big market for people coming out with a degree. I have never had issues locating a job in the field.''
No kidding. The cloud is the limit.Learn more about the EMU online Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense program.
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