Kris Pruett is an HP Inc. intern enrolled in Boise State Online’s Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience. Living in a small town in Central Idaho has not deterred her from pursuing a degree and gaining the necessary professional experience to launch into the booming cyber field.
A Blue Turf Childhood
As a child, Pruett grew up on the Boise State University campus, considerably influencing her future academic career. Her connection came from her father, a network engineer in the Office of Information Technology.
“I attended sports camps on campus. I did the Easter egg hunt on The Blue and any events available for family and friends. We just got to experience it, so it was a lot of fun. And I felt like Boise State has always been with me,” Pruett said. Her family’s connection to technology would also play a role in her future.
Pruett attended Boise State right after high school. However, the first attempt didn’t go as planned. She changed majors a few times and felt the pressure of choosing a major was enough to take a break from academics. “I went through many majors, and I had a lot of difficulties balancing work and life. [Between] family, friends, obligations, getting to class and doing homework — it was a lot to put on a young person,” she explained.
Life continued for Pruett. She eventually got married, had kids and moved to Colorado, where she became a family readiness group leader after her husband enlisted in the military. “While it wasn’t a paid job, I was responsible for communicating with the families. I ensured that the command was informed of what was happening with our families back home,” she said. Her position there was just what she needed to gain confidence in herself. Pruett and her husband then decided to return to Idaho.
Finding the Boise State Online Cyber Program
Pruett decided to go back to college upon moving back to Idaho and starting tech/support work for her family’s small property management company. However, she wasn’t sure what major or program was right for her. “I remember looking at Boise State several times, and there wasn’t a program that felt right. One day out of the blue, I looked [online], and there it was: cyber operations and resilience,” she said.
While she had found a potential path to continuing her education, she still had reservations about returning to college. Previous academic experiences were stuck in her mind, which caused her to doubt herself.
“Back then, I didn’t give myself enough credit. I thought that [the cyber program] was for someone else smarter than me. This degree was for somebody different. Maybe another person that has more math skills than I do, or skills I don’t have,” Pruett reflected.
After looking into the online cyber operations and resilience program, she contacted a student success coach to ask questions. “I have a horrible GPA,” she told the cyber student success coach Janelle Woolf. Pruett was given more information about the degree and how it was set up to help her succeed, from supportive faculty and academic advisors to free foundational cyber resources. She then felt confident enough to apply to Boise State and was accepted to the program.
Customizing Cyber Coursework
Since starting the online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience, Pruett has appreciated the support Boise State Online’s staff offers. “It feels like in this program, everyone wants you to succeed,” she noted.
Thus far, Pruett has enjoyed the digital forensics class the most. It was her first technical course, and despite being intense, she knew she had the support of her professor. “I learned more in that class about persistence than I could have before.”
Online cyber coursework also allows students to customize their learning through certificates, credentials and more. “The program helps us work towards a lot of different certificates,” Pruett noted. “Currently, I’m in the process of working towards the CompTIA Security+ and Network+ certifications.”
Boise State University’s online cyber operations and resilience undergraduate and graduate programs prepare students for a purposeful career. In our increasingly interconnected world, skilled cyber professionals are vital to the safety of our economy, government and society. Students gain practical knowledge, industry credentials and applicable skills to be job-ready. They learn how to create holistic resilience across people, processes and technology. No engineering, computer science or math background is required to be successful.
Applying Online Cyber Program Learning
Pruett knew that obtaining an internship would improve her chances of finding a job after graduation. She looked to Sin Ming Loo, director of cyber operations and resilience and Boise State professor, and her internship advisor for advice. “I came to Professor Loo because I knew internships would come up. I foresaw that I would have a little bit of an issue because many of the internships required [a high] GPA,” she said. “Dr. Loo made me understand that I had potential. I was not a sum of my struggles.”
Pruett also worried about living far away from Boise and campus and if that would hurt her chance of getting an internship. Soon after, her fears were assuaged when she landed a coveted online internship with HP Inc., a renowned technology company with a history that spans eight decades and customers from all over the world.
Pruett’s year-long internship with HP Inc. entails working with a security and analytics team. “Our team is responsible for going out as senior security advisors and assessing client work environments,” she explained. “We determine what risks they face because cybersecurity is constantly changing.”
Cyber Work Experience With HP Inc. Internship
Like the encouragement she received at Boise State, Pruett found more support at HP Inc. “I’ve been in a couple of meetings where they asked for our opinion, and I gave it,” Pruett said. “They listen and have made changes based on what a couple [of] interns suggest. They value the new people coming in. They don’t treat us less than, they treat us as equals.”
“It’s been great at HP Inc. I feel like the program prepared me well. But I’m still learning so much. The opportunities that have opened for me are immense,” Pruett said. “I can’t imagine not going through this program and not getting this degree.”
After earning her Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations and Resilience, she hopes to remain part of the HP Inc. family, “After graduation, I [hope to be] offered a position and an opportunity to stick with HP Inc.”
Learn More About Cyber Operations and Resilience
Boise State Online’s Cyber Operations and Resilience program helps future cyber professionals acquire the skills needed to succeed in the cyber operations field. Earn your degree from wherever you are with 100% online courses. Contact a student success coach to get started!