Breaking into Cybersecurity: Perspectives from Our Summer Intern
With increased security breaches and an ever-evolving threat landscape, cybersecurity in the government space continues to be a growing field offering a fulfilling career path. Factor in the added challenge of meeting security requirements like the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which helps protect important information shared with the Department of Defense (DoD), and it is clear that job opportunities in this space will continue to be prevalent for a long time to come.
So, whether you are a student nearing graduation or a professional looking to change career direction, cybersecurity might offer what you are seeking. We sat down to talk with our summer intern, Smriti, to get her thoughts on what she learned about pursuing a career in cybersecurity and how her time with us has taught her a lot that she can’t learn in the classroom.
“With cybersecurity, you’re helping people. Cybersecurity is a way that you can keep people safe on the internet.”
– Smriti Simlot, CyberSheath Summer Intern
Setting the stage to pursue cybersecurity
As a computer science major, graduating in December, Smriti is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the growing urgency for cybersecurity experts. Although she is skilled in computer science, the internship gave her the chance to experience cybersecurity firsthand for the first time. She says, “I want to do cybersecurity because even though I’m a computer science major, when I have a job, I don’t just want to program all day every day. What I like about this field is the only programming that you really do is to make your life easier. For example, if you don’t feel like doing something by hand, you can write some code and it can just do it itself. So it’s programming with the purpose.”
Adding to that thought, she continues, “With cybersecurity, you’re helping people. Cybersecurity is a way that you can keep people safe on the internet.”
On the job learning
Learning by doing is a powerful and effective approach. Many people are not great auditory or visual learners, but can understand a concept and achieve mastery by applying knowledge and performing a skill.
“I’ve learned a lot because I work in the security operation center, which is where we monitor the networks of companies and get alerts for suspicious activity. I’ve seen the different attacks that can happen and the things people do that can make their accounts more vulnerable. Also, I’ve become familiar with technology that I’ve never used before, like Azure and other cloud-based services that are popular now. It’s also exciting to witness the practical application of what you’re doing and see that it really makes a good impact for the customer.”
Cybersecurity is not just about technical skills
People skills are also necessary in cybersecurity. “I think what has surprised me is how much the security team talks to the customer. I thought they would be in the background, doing their own thing. But they are always talking to customers, making sure activity is normal, going over our security procedures, or discussing other topics.”
“Everyone I’ve met at CyberSheath has been so patient with me. They took the time to explain things to me–and that has helped me be successful.”
Pointers on how to take the next step
- Look on different job boards to see what skill sets and experience companies are looking for as this sets a good starting point for your search.
- Consider getting applicable certifications that make sense for the path you wish to take.
- Take the time to research companies that need help and contact them.
- Don’t dismiss small to mid-size companies or organizations you may not have heard of– you might wind up somewhere that you never expected to and love it. Working for a smaller company also affords you the chance to see things end-to-end, do stuff that matters, and have a larger, more strategic view.
- If you have the skills, be confident that you will find the right opportunity.
“Smriti has been an incredible asset to the team and I’ve been amazed how she’s hit the ground running. She’s worked on several projects to enhance our DevOps focused Security Operations Center and I look forward to her continued contributions!”
– Brett Powers, Vice President of Operations
In the meantime, Smriti is continuing to intern at CyberSheath for the next semester and get ready for graduation.
If you think a career in cybersecurity is right for you and that you have what it takes to join our team, check out our open positions.