My experiences as SANS Facilitator (SEC566)

2019-01-17 19:27:00

EDIT:

Oooff... Linking to my homebrew website on a SANS Twitter-feed; how's that for #LivingDangerously? For the love of cookies, please don't hack me. I like my Dreamhost account... ^_^

 


 

About a month ago I explained a bit about the amazing chance I'd been offered by SANS, when they accepted me into their Work/Study Program. My week with SANS is coming to its end, so I thought I'd share a few of my experiences. Quite a few others have shared their stories in the past (linked below), but this is mine. :)

 

As was expected the days are pretty long and the work is hard. But for me they haven't been unbearably long, nor impossibly hard. Overall the atmosphere at SANS Amsterdam has been pretty laidback! 

Before coming to town, our event managers had set up a WhatsApp group so we could stay in close contact before and during the event. This turned out to be very helpful, as we could keep messaging eachother during class through the magic of WA's webapp. You can count on silly memes flying through that chat, but it's been mostly useful :)

Sunday was spent moving and unpacking 250 boxes of books into the respective eight rooms. There's a rather specific layout that SANS want their student-tables to be in (books stacked exactly so-and-so, pen here w/ yellow cap there, logo pointing here and so on. As another Facilitator said: "Clearly someone has put a lot of thought into this...". I've found that, after putting the boxes on the ground in a circle around me, I got into the rhythm of making the stacks real quickly. Setting up the mics and speakers and rigging powerlines was a nice flashback to my days with AnimeCon

Choosing not to stay at an Amsterdam hotel has been both a boon and a burden. Traveling home allows me to see Marli and Dana every night and saves me quite some dough. It'll also take my head out of SANS a little bit, so I can unwind. On the other hand I'm missing out on the nightly sessions and NetWars

Working with the SEC566 trainer Russell has been nothing but a pleasure. As he himself said, he's "pretty low maintenance". He doesn't need me to go around town to grab things for him, just make sure his water bottles are always available and that the room's ready for use. So instead, most of my time went to the rest of the party: cleaning the room, prepping for the next day and making sure that the other students are "in a good place". A few people were having issues with their lab VMs, some folks had questions about practical SANS matters and others were simply looking for a nice chat. 

Speaking of: I can honestly say that it's been a long while since I've spent time with such a friendly group of people! I know that some folks on the web have been complaining that the InfoSec industry has been toxifying in recent years, but at least we didn't notice anything'bout that at SANS Amsterdam. I've met quite a few fun and interesting people here! 

In short: I am very grateful for the opportunity SANS have given me and I would recommend applying for the role to anyone in a heartbeat!

 


 

EDIT: Because some people have asked, here's my "normal" workday as Facilitator, traveling from home in Almere to Amsterdam.

 

During the lab exercises I usually work ahead, so I'm one chapter ahead of the class. That will allow me to know upfront what kind of problems they may run into and may need help with. As others on TechExams.net have pointed out, Facilitators are NOT the same as TAs (teaching assistants). So on the one hand I am constantly a bit anxious about whether or not I'm butting into the trainer's ground. On the other hand I've had good responses from both classmates and the trainer, so I reckon I didn't tick anyone off... At least not this time :D

I can imagine that it'd be entirely different in a tech-oriented class. I'd have to pipe down a lot more than I did this week. 


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