How to Land a Cybersecurity Internship?
When it comes to cybersecurity internships, there isn’t a one size fits all approach to landing a role. Everyone's unique abilities, experiences, interests, and competencies are different. As such, the steps you take vary person to person. While I may not have all the answers to your career questions, I do have some tools that can help guide you on your quest for a cybersecurity internship.
First things first, what the heck is a cybersecurity internship?
Great question! There are many cybersecurity intern roles across a multitude of focus areas.
If you’re looking for a technical cybersecurity role with Duo or Cisco Secure, you’ll likely see positions like: Security Solutions Engineer, Data Analyst, Software Engineer, UX/UI Designer, Product Management Specialist, and Product Marketing Specialist.
For those interested in non-technical cybersecurity roles with Duo or Cisco Secure, you may look for Program Management, Internal Communications, or Business Operations in the job title.
Do you need to know a lot about cybersecurity to land an internship?
If you made it this far, I imagine you’re feeling a bit uncertain about cybersecurity internships and I'm here to tell you not to let the titles scare you! I cannot stress this enough, but your value is not determined by a job description. At Duo and Cisco Secure, we recognize that Intern applicants are in school and likely junior in their career. The whole purpose of an internship program is to give Interns a chance to apply fundamentals learned in school through meaningful project work that aligns with their interests and skill sets to help them grow!
For those who are unsure, that’s ok too! Regardless of your interests, the cybersecurity industry is bigger than you think and there are plenty of opportunities for growth and career advancement in your desired field. Before you leave this page, I recommend visiting the Duo Internship page to read our current cybersecurity intern job descriptions so you can get a better understanding of the scope of each role.
Now's the time to do some career exploration! Before you get started, I encourage you to look for a role that aligns with your interests and find a company that aligns with your values. I’m no expert, but I can promise you working for a company whose values align with your own makes a difference, I want that experience for you!
I may be biased but Duo, a part of Cisco Secure, offers a one-of-a-kind cybersecurity internship experience. If you haven’t had a chance to visit our internship page, I highly recommend taking a look to learn more about the program offerings!
Unsure of your interests? That’s ok! You don’t need to decide your entire career path today but it is important to consider what you’d like to do so you can identify the steps to achieve your goals. Self-reflection can be your best friend and while I know it can be overwhelming to think “big picture”, being real with yourself can help pave the way for future success. As someone who is neurodiverse, I tend to get overwhelmed when I look at the big picture. To help curb this feeling of angst, I like to take bite size pieces to help break down what I’m interested in and what aligns to my strengths.
“Be humble, you don’t know what you don't know” said Robert Warner Software Security Engineer undergraduate intern, on the Security Tools team. For early in career talent or career transitions, you’ll never be done learning! Going into a cybersecurity internship with a growth mindset (we call it Security Mindset) is a life changing experience. I can assure you that whatever cybersecurity internship program you are interested in, the company is not expecting you to be an expert on your first (or last) day.
Don’t wait until your internship begins to join the cybersecurity community
Networking is important. I know networking can be scary – I myself struggle in social situations (especially after the pandemic) – but we’re in this together and I’m here to share some techniques to help you to navigate these muddy waters.
LinkedIn is your friend, make sure to use it. For those just getting started, LinkedIn is a networking platform that allows you to connect with folks who are passionate about career development, topics, and of course jobs! LinkedIn is a powerful tool and as such, it comes with some “do’s & don’ts.” Use it wisely, it will be the key to your success!
Follow companies and people who align with your interests
This way you can see what they’re talking about and receive notifications about internship opportunities
Reach out to folks & schedule an informal “interview” (or coffee chat)
This isn’t an interview for the role but more of a conversation about the person's current role and to help you learn more about the company
Read through job descriptions to help shape your resume
Your resume should align somewhat with the job description so I would recommend grabbing words or phrases from the job description to make your application stand out
Share content! – showcase project work, ideas, successes, personal / professional milestones
Make assumptions about your value or compare yourself to others
At the end of the day, LinkedIn is still a form of social media and as such, it is easy to feel discouraged
Your journey is yours alone, and things will happen at different times. This is a part of life, embrace your strengths and have fun learning along the way!
Expect an immediate response or feel defeated if someone doesn’t reply
People on LinkedIn are people, the same as you and me. We all get busy with personal and professional lives. My recommendation would be to reach out, follow up, and if you don’t hear back, move on.
Seek help and you will flourish! Professional mentors or coaches are a game changer. I cannot stress this enough but if you find someone who inspires future self, seek them out. Ask if they’re looking for a mentee or, if not, perhaps they could connect you with someone who is? Having someone to guide you on your journey will change the way you see yourself and have a positive impact on your growth.
I want to acknowledge barriers to entry. Privilege comes in many different shapes and sizes and that folks reading this may feel overwhelmed at the idea of networking or seeking mentorship due to the lack of a professional network. Whoever you are and whatever your background is, I see you and am proud of you for taking the time to explore cybersecurity internships. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more blogs on topic of barriers to entry & networking for those who may not have a professional network at their fingertips.
If you see a role that appeals to your interests, apply! Putting yourself out there is the key to your success. I know it can be scary, but you won’t know unless you try!
Not sure about your skills? Apply anyways! Duo & Cisco Secure are currently recruiting for our 2023 internship program, and I encourage you to visit Duo’s internship page & Cisco Secure’s internship page to view more open roles.