CertStudent: Lucky IT admin gets free certification training for life

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 CertStudent  is a regular feature that profiles students of all ages who are pursuing certification at schools, in training programs, and on their own time (and own dime). Know an interesting  CertStudent ? Share the details with us at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

From somewhere in the picturesque environs of Aschaffenburg, Germany, 26-year-old Mario Henkel recently hit the IT geek jackpot. Out of 15,000 contestants who participated in the Firebrand Free Training for Life (FTFL) promotion, Mario scored the ability to take as many of the 200-plus IT and security courses offered by Firebrand (a U.K.-based enterprise) as he chooses — for life, at zero cost! The fees covered include training, exams, course books, and even food and accommodations.

Mario Henkel gets free IT training for life from Firebrand.

Mario Henkel, left, receives his FTFL-prize from DACH General Manager Paul Dillenburg.

The FTFL prize is a dream come true. So much so, that Mario said it took a week after receiving notification of his new privileged status (via phone) call for the news to sink in. Since then, Henkel often thinks about the incredible good fortune of having, as he put it, “the chance to learn everything (I choose) from really great instructors.”

With near-boundless possibilities before him, Mario has decided to kick things off by going for the EC-Council’s prestigious Certified Ethical Hacker credential. “IT security has (been) and always will be my passion,” Mario said, “so I will try my best to increase my knowledge in this topic.” As an IT administrator currently employed by Frankfurt-based consulting firm Ponturo, Mario is responsible to secure the company’s IT systems. As a result of those responsibilities, he has noticed other Microsoft certifications that will be highly beneficial.

Prior to becoming a big winner, Mario had already used Firebrand’s certification training materials to prepare for and pass four of Microsoft’s MCTS exams: C083-7708, C083-7707, C083-7706, and C083-7710. With his new and unlimited access to training, Mario expects that the number of credentials he has will quickly expand in the months ahead.

Mario’s passion for coding led him to his new hobby of writing Android apps. He finds it relaxing to concentrate on solving specific problems with code. And when not occupied with his PC or writing apps, Mario spends time with his family and “little zoo,“ as he calls it. This zoo includes a ball python, corn snakes and leopard geckos. Caring for his small cadre of reptiles helps Mario find balance and recharge.

His interest in computers and technology began in childhood. As much as playing games on his dad’s PC was fun, it got boring pretty quick. Mario was more fascinated by how everything worked, and how a person could create his own programs. The biggest question for Mario was, “How can you use something in a way it wasn’t intended to be used?“ The younger Mario‘s curiousity led him to seek out the training that resulted in writing his first program in Pascal. That sort of thinking still drives him, and he’s been studying and learning coding languages on his own ever since. Now, with his new access to free IT training, Mario can follow those instincts just about wherever they take him.

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Haylee Vallejo


Haylee Vallejo is a graduate of BYU-Idaho.

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