As you begin to search for a job in the field of cybersecurity, you may find that posting multiple jobs requires prior knowledge, sometimes even rank-level positions. Another way to get security information in the real world is to get a cybersecurity internship.
In this article, you will learn about cybersecurity interns and what types of internships are available. You will also better understand the benefits of seeking an internship, as well as tips for making the most of your time as a student.
What does cybersecurity do?
A cybersecurity internship is usually a temporary position in a company. As an apprentice, you will often find information on some of the basic, administrative tasks of a cybersecurity analyst, usually under the supervision of an experienced professional. The nature of the internship will vary depending on the company. Here are some of the tasks and responsibilities that have been removed from the actual cybersecurity internship list on LinkedIn:
- Checks web application security
- Managing internal security data
- Respond to minor security incidents
- Growing events as needed
- Dangerous network security check
- Disassembling and fixing malicious software errors
- Investigates threats
- Assist with entry check
- Document development and automation
- Assist in the design and implementation of security solutions
For some internships, you may work with the security team performing tasks as required. For some internships, you may be assigned a specific security project to work on, either alone or with other trainees. Projects may involve designing and building a defense system for a specific purpose, testing the system, planning and conducting an entry test, or conducting security awareness training.
Benefits of cybersecurity internship
The benefits of a cybersecurity internship can go beyond college pay and credit. Here are some of the benefits you can get from your internship.
Real work experience
One of the most important benefits of an internship is the opportunity to get information about your career. Most cybersecurity tasks require knowledge of previous work. An internship is one way to get that experience.
Experience can be a very good teacher. Putting your cybersecurity knowledge into practice in a real company environment can be a great way to accelerate your skills development. During the internship, you may start working on a range of security software, which includes network security monitoring tools, packet filters, risk scanners, firewalls, and antivirus software. Depending on the role, you can also hone your editing skills by writing scripts and automated tasks.
Working in a team — whether remote or in-person — provides opportunities to develop important soft skills. Take this time to work on being a better coordinator, problem solver, and deep thinker.
Mentorship and network
As a professional trainee, you will likely meet and work with cybersecurity personnel with a variety of roles and backgrounds. You can also work against other teams in the company. These relationships can sometimes lead to new job opportunities in the future.
As an apprentice, you may also be paired with a supervisor or senior member of the cybersecurity team. This person can serve as your mentor, during study time and in some cases, throughout your career.
The internship gives you the opportunity to experience what it is like to work in cybersecurity before investing time and effort in finding a job. Sometimes, an internship will increase your love of work. Sometimes, an internship shows you that cybersecurity is not what you expected and that your skills and abilities may be better suited to another field.
While this is not always the case, some internships may end up with the promise of full-time employment with a company. Even if your internship does not end with a job offer, you may still be able to approach the job search with a letter of recommendation from your internship manager or mentor.
Where can I get an internship?
You may be wondering where you can get an internship, especially if you are not currently a student with access to a career services office. In this section, we will look at government and non-government resources to speed up your search.
Government cybersecurity internships
In information security, one of the best places to get an internship is a government agency. Governments often have robust cybersecurity programs in place, and many government internships work part-time. Here are some government-sponsored internship programs in the US:
Department of Homeland Security (DHS): This internship program places current undergraduate and graduate students interested in cybersecurity and industry professionals within DHS. The programs last 10 weeks, take place in Washington, DC, and include salary.
Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): CISA employs students enrolled in accredited programs from high school to graduation level in their paid internships. Trainees have the opportunity to visit labs, meet with senior executives, and attend local conferences. CISA also has a graduate program.
National Security Agency (NSA): The NSA provides internship programs for high school and college students, as well as already existing Development Programs to acquire the skills needed to change jobs. Internships are paid, and lengths vary depending on each program.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): The CIA employs undergraduate and graduate students in its paid study program. In addition to earnings, participants receive full benefits during the program.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): The cybersecurity intern with the FBI allows undergraduate and graduate students to apply for a 10-week internship at designated offices across the country.
Non-government cybersecurity internships
Many companies and organizations also offer internships to cybersecurity professionals. You can usually find these opportunities by searching for “cybersecurity internship” or “cybersecurity intern” on job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter.
These companies regularly hire cybersecurity interns:
Palo Alto Networks
General requirements for internship
An internship can be a great step towards cybersecurity as it is often designed for students or job changers without any previous work experience. Specific requirements will vary from company to company, but here are a few you can consider:
Student Status: Some internships require you to be a student at an accredited institution.
Citizenship: To get a security job at a US government agency, you will probably need to be a US citizen.
Security permit: Due to the critical nature of the work, you may need to obtain a certain level of security authorization.
As with the job, you can expect to apply for an internship by completing the application and submitting your resume and cover letter. You may also need to complete one or more interviews as part of the application process.
Since you may not have work experience directly related to cybersecurity, your CV should highlight any relevant academic work, technical knowledge (IT), and transferable skills (such as programming, leadership, or technical writing).
You can also show your interest in cybersecurity by participating in cybersecurity competitions or hacker profit programs. These events, hosted by various organizations and software developers, provide recognition and sometimes compensation to people who discover and report bugs through code or risk. Include this in your resume, even if you do not win.