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5 Myths About Interning in Cybersecurity

5 Myths About Interning in Cybersecurity

Dear future interns (and intern employers),

Everyone says, “do what you love”; but when the world is your oyster, where do you start?

We are Arianna De Leon and Kaylin Hiatt and last summer we started our careers as marketing interns at Imperva. We come from very different backgrounds and had very different experiences on our journey to Imperva. First, a bit about us:

Kaylin Hiatt: “I’m a business and intelligence/cyber operations major at USC. I was searching for a summer opportunity to learn more about that cross-section of cybersecurity and business.”

Arianna De Leon: “I’m an economics major at NYU and had no clue what I was getting into when I first saw the opportunity at Imperva. It was a huge step out of my comfort zone.”

Our summer internships are now a great memory and with the benefit of hindsight we have compiled a set of myths about what it’s like to work in cybersecurity, with the intention of helping cybersecurity organizations structure a productive and fulfilling internship program and encouraging future interns to think critically about joining this exciting field:

Myth #1: Technical skills and experience is imperative

On our first days, we were greeted with open arms. Even though Arianna had no experience in cybersecurity, in her first week she was immediately given the space and time needed to learn about the industry, catch up on industry news, and to pick up some of the vocabulary. This was invaluable as it gave her the opportunity to understand and appreciate some of the things she was going to be exposed to throughout the rest of the summer. One of the principal lessons she learned was that in a booming industry like cybersecurity there are constantly more jobs being created in both technical and non-technical fields that support the core product. These positions pull candidates from other specialties who each bring different backgrounds and strengths to the table.

Myth #2: Interns do insignificant work

Like the legions of interns that preceded them, they had preconceived notions that their summer would have been filled with data entry, administrative tasks, or even running errands. Instead, they learned that Imperva valued their contributions and collaboration. They were assigned critical projects and responsibilities such as writing blogs and analyzing the API security market to shed light on the company’s product roadmap. This analysis was distributed to the competitive team. While the goal was always to learn, these projects clearly made an impact throughout the company.

Myth #3: You can’t ask questions

We expected to have a lot of questions, but how would our constant questions be received by the experienced professional team? We found that our curiosity was rewarded with encouraging words and valuable guidance. We were regularly given the space we needed to make inquiries, dig into uncertainties and resolve doubts. In fact, throughout their internship at Imperva, “ask questions” was the most frequently offered advice. To grow, it’s important to be willing to admit what you don’t know and seek out answers and best-practice from experienced colleagues.

Myth #4: You are a burden

People actually want to talk to you! Why?

Throughout our internship, Impervians wanted to share their experiences and help us. They created opportunities to share their lessons learned so we didn’t have to experience them ourselves. At every turn, we felt welcomed and encouraged; not as a nuisance. There were many opportunities to learn beyond the confines of our immediate teams. In turn, we were able to learn about more roles within the marketing function and we now have a better understanding of what paths we might want to pursue after graduation.

Myth #5: Interns aren’t part of the team

During our time at Imperva, we not only created professional relationships, but we were welcomed into the community as equals. This should have been an especially difficult task, given the remote nature of work, but we had managers and teammates who went out of their way to recognize us as equal contributors, with interests, preferences, and lives outside of work. This was a welcomed surprise and contrary to the stereotype of finding ourselves only comfortable with other interns and those on my “level”. These experiences afforded us insight into how we want to prioritize a work-life balance in the future.

As college students our mission is to gain wisdom and learn. Well, dear reader and prospective trainee, when the opportunity presents itself, we say “Yes!” – even if it seems scary!

Neither of us were sure what a summer internship in a cybersecurity company would entail, but it was both exciting and rewarding. Internships are an excellent opportunity to experiment with the skills you already have, and to develop new ones too.

Contact us about Imperva internship opportunities this year.