For many professionals an internship is a right of passage. An in-between phase bridging university and the dreaded, or anticipated, full-time world. For the lucky few, an internship can even lead to job offers. However, looking at the cyber security industry directly, many cyber novices question whether an internship in the cyber realm is as important as other industries.
Looking at internships generically, they are known as an invaluable ‘real-world’ experience. After all, university life and full-time working are two very different environments and the transition without intern experience can be challenging for young professionals. The realities of full time work are not comparable to the flexibility of university. Picking your own study hours (to some degree), month long breaks and the semester schedule is definitely not a part of full-time employment. This is where the value of internships comes into play - they provide the experience of what full-time work will actually be like that is simply unobtainable in an academic setting.
So when it comes to careers in cyber security, internships hold just as much value as other professions. The difficulty is securing a cyber internship in the first place, as cyber specific intern opportunities can be surprisingly difficult to come by. Those internships or vacation programs that are available are generally with top-tier companies such as the Big Four, which means competition can be somewhat fierce. On the flip side of this competition, these large international companies generally have the capacity to offer opportunities to hundreds of applicants annually. Aside from these Big Four companies, governments are a good place to look for cyber security internships.
Cyber security internships offer an amazing opportunity for cyber novices to test the waters. It gives one the chance to enter the business world and determine whether the particular company would be a good long term fit, and if the wider industry is where they want to be working. Internships also generally offer an excellent breadth of work with responsibilities continually rotating within the cyber team. With this breadth of experience, new cyber professionals are able to see what areas of work resonate with them and what areas don’t.
Looking at the specifics of what a cyber security intern actually does, very basic, entry-level work can be anticipated. It is a learning experience and networking opportunity above all else. New skills, technology knowledge and newly formed professional relationships are the three best takeaways of interning. It is also a chance to experience how a business operates, from learning new internal communication channels (think Slack, Trello and beyond), to meeting etiquette, and understanding the nitty-gritty of the business’s daily environment.
Are you almost at the graduation point in your cyber degree? Don’t overlook the value of an internship as your next step. It is a crucial bridging point that does more than just look good on a CV. It equips cyber novices with the knowledge, experience and confidence to enter the professional, business world and hit the ground running.
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