By Timothy W. Coleman and James R. Lint
Editors Note: This is part of a series of articles that highlights the importance and availability of professional training. It is intended to benefit GSPIA students and aims to illustrate the availability of supplemental information sources that complement rigorous academic studies. The inclusion of specific training programs does not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement.
To quote the Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation […] Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” This important observation is especially relevant because it demonstrates that securing knowledge isn’t an end unto itself, but rather the basis for a behavioral augmentation and an ingrained approach to pursuing excellence in whatever we chose to achieve.
As such, it is important to view yourself as a perpetual trainee so as to never allow yourself to become complacent and sedentary. If not for self-betterment purposes alone, because (especially within the intelligence and security community) we know full well that our adversaries aren’t sitting idly by and twiddling their thumbs as new ways for improvement become available.
How trainable are you?
From an employer’s perspective, training is vital for a multitude of reasons. The first and foremost advantage is that it ensures an employee constantly grows their skillset and is challenged to learn more applicable skills of use. This knowledge can be developed into a sustainable skillset and adds value not only to the individual, but also to the entire enterprise.
Training serves to improve an employee’s overall job performance as it builds confidence and allows the individual to assess where and how job functions can be improved. Additionally, providing an individual with real world, practitioner oriented training enables the employee to better appreciate and comprehend the governing policies and regulations that comprise job responsibilities. This helps the employee grow and increases their successful consistency in terms of achievements.
Let’s take a step back and place you in the position of hiring manager for an important government department or agency. You receive a candidate’s resume and it’s from a recent graduate of a prestigious school, such as the University of Pittsburgh. You like what you see, but what does the degree mean and what is the value of that education to your organization?
Clearly, it demonstrates the candidate is learned and most likely capable. Even so, you are hiring for a position in the intelligence and security field. No student will walk in on day one of the job and be fully capable of carrying out their duties without any training. Indeed, what you most likely want to see and need to know is that the candidate is smart, capable, dependable and trainable. As a hiring manager, you need to know that whoever you hire will be able to learn and implement their job duties successfully.
In turn, next time you are looking at your resume with a critical eye, ask yourself – what about my resume drives home the training and being trainable narrative? If you can’t find it, you should do something about it. Having something on your resume that highlights your ability and proclivity for learning and implementing evolving job tasks is what will place you among the best applicants – not to mention, training is a tremendous help for those applicants that are filling out those much dreaded KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) for a USAJobs application.
Embedded Benefits of Training
The embedded benefits of training are overwhelming clear. A well-trained employee has a higher level of productivity, provides an increased quality in service and in products delivered, and requires less supervision from superiors, which allows them more time to focus on other priorities.
To that end, we would like to highlight another free training and course completion certification resource available that will help build your KSAs, bolster your resume, and perhaps even instill Aristotle’s habituation of excellence.
FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a wide-ranging series of training course completion certifications through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI), as the Website notes, “serves as the national focal point for the development and delivery of emergency management training. This training enhances the capabilities of the Federal, state, and local government, volunteer organizations, and the private sector to minimize the impact of disasters on the American public.”
With over 2 million students receiving training annually, EMI provides more than 185 training courses that span the breadth and scope of FEMA’s core mission areas such as Incident Management, Continuity Programs, Operational Planning, Public Disaster Communications, Disaster Logistics, Integrated Preparedness, Emergency Communications, Hazard Mitigation, and more.
In fact, the course offerings for Independent Study Program cover a lot of ground, with training courses that include: Surveillance Awareness, Continuity of Operations Planning for Pandemic Influenzas, and Radiological Emergency Response – just to name a few.
Additionally, EMI offers more focused and tailored training programs that hone in on specific functional job areas. Specifically, there are courses that explicate core elements of what is expected of a Geospatial Information System Specialist and another for Public Information Officers.
From a user’s perspective, it is incredibly easy to sign up and start taking training courses. The materials are online and all you have to do is pass a final multiple-choice exam by correctly answering 75 percent of the questions. If you don’t get it on the first try there is no penalty for taking it again. More conveniently, EMI is accessible to mobile users and students can take the multiple-choice exam on a mobile phone during a coffee break or while waiting for a class to begin.
Perhaps most importantly, EMI Independent Study Program training and course completion certifications are free of charge. For course offerings and to register, check out: http://training.fema.gov/IS/.
The Department of Homeland Security offers a variety of additional training opportunities for DHS personnel, partners and citizens, including home and business owners.
DHS offers training that includes:
- Boating and Marine Safety
- Chemical Sector Training and Resources
- Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Training
- Cybersecurity Training & Exercises
- Electronic Crime Training and Resources
And DHS offers more focused training on Emergency Management and Preparedness Training:
- Business Preparedness Training
- Emergency Management Training
- Emergency Preparedness Training
- Law Enforcement Training
- National Infrastructure Protection Plan
- School Safety Planning and Training
To learn more about such DHS training opportunities, please check out: http://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/find-training-opportunities.
There are also training programs available through DHS for Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICE-CERT) that require physical attendance and some of them include:
- Web-Based Training OPSEC for Control Systems
- Introductory Level Introduction to Control Systems Cybersecurity (101)
- Intermediate Level Intermediate Cybersecurity for Industrial Control Systems
- Intermediate Level Intermediate Cybersecurity for Industrial Control Systems (202)
- Technical Level ICS Cybersecurity (301)
For more info, visit: http://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/Training-Available-Through-ICS-CERT
The Discipline of Training
With the current budget uncertainty and recent training cuts, it is imperative that prospective intelligence and security professionals take the initiative to find and complete free training. It shows your “trainability” and is a crucial indicator of your drive to excel.
Training helps prepare you to work in important public and private sector roles. Training also helps ensure that you don’t repeat past mistakes in the industry. Ultimately, the objective remains to learn from the last generation and to move forward, armed with the best and most relevant practices of today.
In the end, training is a gift and a means to stay ahead of bad actors. And like all gifts, if you fail to use it, it is your fault but becomes America’s problem.
The views expressed in this article are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy or the position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or any other department or agency within the US Government.