If you’ve been studying to become a cybersecurity professional and are finally ready to embark on your new career, a cybersecurity internship may be just what you need.
In fact, students are the best candidates for an internship. And anyone who has taken courses in security analysis, information systems, or other engineering disciplines can apply to get hired as a cybersecurity intern to gain real-world experience. An internship gives you the experience and preparation you’ll need for a successful career once you finish school.
In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about cybersecurity internships, including the primary advantages, some of the drawbacks, and the best ways to make sure you get the right opportunity for your needs and goals. We’ll also help you decide if it’s the right path for you overall.
But first, let’s talk a little more about internships in general. An internship is a professional, hands-on learning experience where you can get real-world, on-the-job training in your field of study. It serves as a great stepping stone to the next phase in your career, whether you’re entering the workforce or starting a graduate program.
Paid internships typically provide a small salary as compensation in exchange for your work, while unpaid internships offer alternative benefits. For example, some internship experiences can count toward academic credits; others include housing or meal stipends. Whether you land a paid or unpaid internship, it’s a wonderful experience that adds to your overall professional value.
Benefits of a cybersecurity internship
A cybersecurity internship program can be a useful stepping stone to a rewarding long-term career. Here are some of the reasons you might want to find and pursue one:
- Remote work. Thanks to advancements in hardware and software capabilities, cyber security is very remote-friendly. Workers, including interns, can access networks remotely, assess a cyber threat, and fix issues. This opens opportunities for those living in remote areas or with disabilities.
- Career opportunities: Internships can lead to a full-time employment opportunity. For example, your internship in cyber operations could make you a great fit for an entry-level position as a cyber security analyst.
- Academic credit. As mentioned above, some unpaid internship programs offer academic credit — getting you one step closer to completing that bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology! Ask your university about which internships qualify for credit and how to apply.
- Practical experience. A cyber security intern works side-by-side with seasoned professionals as they solve complex security issues. This gives you hands-on experience that you just can’t get in the classroom.
- Technical skills. Internship opportunities allow you to learn vital skills to add to your resume. Not only will you gain teamwork and communication skills, but you’ll also master technical skills that future employers will want to see.
- Networking opportunities.You’re bound to make connections when rubbing shoulders with IT professionals in the cybersecurity space. These connections can lead to great opportunities, including professional references, recommendations, and outright job offers.
- Mentorship.An internship pairs you with seasoned professionals in such fields as cybersecurity engineering and security operations. As you work with these professionals, some may become valued mentors willing to share advice and help you define your career path.
Drawbacks of a cybersecurity internship
Of course, being a cybersecurity intern isn’t all a bed of roses. As with any career, it has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at a few of the drawbacks to this kind of internship.
- High competition. Countless soon-to-be graduates are hoping to get into a career in information security. This makes the competition for internships fierce!
- Limited compensation. We will be straight with you: As a cybersecurity or IT intern (whether paid or unpaid), finances could be tight. On the plus side, academic credit and housing offers can offset the lack of funds.
- Challenging work. Cybersecurity is no cakewalk; long hours and demanding work can really turn up the pressure. After all, cybersecurity professionals are doing important work by ensuring the safety and security of sensitive information and data—and often, huge sums of money.
How to get the best cybersecurity internship
Now that you better understand the ups and downs, let’s discuss how to land a cybersecurity internship.
Finding an internship
Cybersecurity internship jobs are out there—it’s just a matter of knowing where to look.
Here are a few places to start your search:
- Job fairs: Many organizations offer job fairs throughout the United States. In fact, the National Security Agency is known for offering high school work studies and college internships and offers both in-person and virtual job fairs.
- Job boards: You can find job boards for just about any profession. Do a general online search for cybersecurity job boards, or narrow your search by demographics. For example, you might find one specific to job seekers of color or LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Events: There are all kinds of events out there that connect students and companies. For example, some cybersecurity industry conferences may help you network and put you on the path to internship opportunities.
- Networking: Do you know any seasoned cybersecurity professionals? Reach out to those connections to get the lowdown on potential internships.
- Social media: Follow cybersecurity companies, industry leaders, and related hashtags on social media platforms like LinkedIn to find internship opportunities.
- School career center: Looking for a part-time summer internship to make the most of your time between semesters? Your college likely offers several resources to help you land that perfect internship. Give them a visit to see what they can do for you.
Getting an interview
You’ve been out there pounding the pavement, looking for internship opportunities. But how do you go from the job search phase to actually getting interviews with your dream companies?
Try to project confidence and maturity when attending in-person events like job fairs. As you meet recruiters, remember to maintain respectful eye contact and speak clearly.
Your resume and cover letter are the next big tools in your job search arsenal. Many of today’s job search methods don’t allow you to meet recruiters in person, so your resume and cover letter have to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Your resume and cover letter should put you in the best light, both professionally and personally. In addition to laying out your education, background, and technical skills, let them know what kind of person you are.
Landing the job
The interview itself is just as important as any other job interview. Remember, the competition for these internships is fierce—bring your A-game.
Here are a few basic ways to help you nail your interview:
- Do your research. Come to the table knowing as much as you can about the company you’re interviewing with and the basic skills you’ll need for the interview. Think about the kinds of questions they will ask and how you will answer—a little practice doesn’t hurt, either!
- Be professional. Dress and speak the part when looking for a professional position, such as a software engineering or security analyst internship. Ensure your outfit and overall appearance are on point and you address the interviewer politely.
- Ask questions. At some point in every interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions. Be prepared to ask meaningful questions that show your interest and enthusiasm.
Whatever your internship goals are, mastering the interview process will position you for success!
An internship in the in-demand field of cybersecurity is a rich experience that can enhance your resume and open many more opportunities and partnerships down the road. Once you’ve researched your top company choices, spruced up your resume, and tailored your cover letters, it’s time to start applying. Join Handshake today, and get on the radar of today’s leading cybersecurity companies.