Introducing our newest member of the Training Team, Justin Almanza.
Justin comes to us from a law enforcement and public education background. He loves being a Trainer because it is the perfect combination of his passions and experiences. Read on below!
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MF: Tell us about your life before becoming a Trainer.
JA: I came to Magnet from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), but I actually have a background in both law enforcement and education. I started my career in public education, where I taught middle school and high school for several years. After that, I transitioned to the law enforcement world where I worked as a Digital Forensic Investigator in the GBI’s Georgia Cyber Crime Center unit. I had some great experiences working on lots of different case types ranging from child exploitation and homicide to fraud and network intrusion. And since I felt like I couldn’t stop teaching, I also spent time as an adjunct instructor with the local college while I was with the GBI.
MF: What made you want to be a Trainer?
JA: I felt like the Trainer position was the perfect combination of my passions and experiences. I love to teach and have spent a lot of time in the classroom, and being able to combine this with my forensic knowledge and experiences made a lot of sense. I also really like the idea of being able to make a bigger impact on the community by training others to hopefully do their jobs better and more efficiently.
MF: What type of training have you taken part in personally? What is your favorite part of the role?
JA: As a student, I’ve sat in classes with organizations like IACIS and NW3C as well as several different vendors such as Magnet. I’ve also taken part in law enforcement specific training classes where I learned how to work different types of cases. I enjoy any time I get to learn something new – which happens pretty much all the time because this field is constantly changing.
MF: What excites you the most about a new class?
JA: I’m always excited about getting to know the backgrounds and personalities of all the students. Every classroom is so different, and it has a lot to do with the interactions between the instructor and the students. I really like trying to find ways to relate to the students through things like mutual hobbies, humor, or sharing experiences.
MF: Do you ever learn anything from the students?
JA: Of course! I often feel like I learn just as much from the students as they do from me. Sometimes it’s directly related to the class, like a new way to explain a concept or a new way to approach a problem. Other times it’s something completely unrelated, such as a new recipe or a fun fact about the local area. I especially enjoy when students ask interesting questions about concepts we’re discussing.
MF: Is there a particular moment that stands out the most to you in your career in the classroom?
JA: I once ran into a student from several years prior while I was out running errands. I recognized this student, and as we were briefly catching up, they began retelling stories and phrases that I had used in the classroom while teaching. The funny thing was that these weren’t necessarily the “lesson objectives” I was trying to teach at the time, they were mostly fun stories or analogies that I had used to help get a certain point across. My initial thought was, “Wow, you remember that??” However, afterwards I thought a lot about how much of an impact you can have on others without even realizing it, especially in a classroom type of environment.
MF: What do students get out of training in person that they can’t get on their own?
JA: I think the “people part” of a live training class is one of the most important components of any training. The interactions with the instructors and other students, being able to share stories, learning from each other, and getting to hear new perspectives is especially valuable in this field. Students also have a great opportunity to walk away with a new list of names of people to contact the next time they need help with something.
MF: How prepared do you feel students are to use Magnet Forensics products after taking the training course?
JA: Magnet’s training does a great job of not only preparing brand new users to do “real world” forensic work, but also teaching new concepts to students who may have been using the tool for a while. Students of all skill levels consistently walk away with new techniques they can apply that same day to whatever projects or cases they are currently working on.
MF: What is most unique about Magnet Forensics’ approach to training?
JA: Magnet’s consistent focus on customer success makes the training approach unique. The trainers are not just in the classroom to fill seats and check boxes, but to actually make sure that the users are successful with the tools. Of course the instructors spend time covering certain material and ensuring that the course objectives are met, but there is also a genuine question of, “What do you need to know to be better at your job?” This can lead to great discussions that are specifically relevant to the students in that classroom. This also makes for a much better training experience than just sitting and listening to someone talk.
MF: Why do you think certification is important to examiners?
JA: Certification shows a level of knowledge and credibility that is valuable to stakeholders such as attorneys, judges, supervisors, colleagues, or others in the industry. Being certified in a specific tool or knowledge base says more than just, “I sat through a class.” It proves that you know what you are talking about and can be trusted in your area of certification.
MF: How do you manage to keep up on the latest trends in digital forensics?
JA: I really like the digital forensics community and the social aspect of this field, and I think that’s a great way to keep up with the latest trends. Following thought leaders on social media sites and other internet communities is a great way to stay current. I also try to regularly read recent blog posts from top researchers and examiners in the field.
MF: What trends do you see coming down the pipeline in digital forensics?
JA: One idea that is very exciting to me is digital forensics involving internet of things (IOT) devices. The idea of pulling data from things like home appliances, vehicle systems, sensors, smart gadgets and wearables, and other devices could open up a whole new world of possibilities for forensic investigators. It will also be interesting to see how these devices work together with the explosion of cloud data to provide valuable insight for solving cases and uncovering the truth.
Thank you, Justin! Welcome to the Training team and to Magnet Forensics overall—we look forward to seeing your future contributions.
Read our previous interviews with VP Training Chuck Cobb, Director of Training Operations Jamey Tubbs, Chris Vance, Patrick Beaver, Doug Estes, Lyn Goh, Larry McClain, Hoyt Harness, Jerry Hewitt, Chris Blight, Erich Schmidt, and Kim Bradley.
Click here to go to the Magnet Forensics Training and Certification Portal.