Are you a student studying cybersecurity, a fresh graduate or maybe you are looking to get a professional certificate in cybersecurity, this article was carefully researched to give you the best guide on how to get a cybersecurity internship, what the requirements are and what to expect?
As a prospective cybersecurity engineer, it can be intimidating getting your first job seeing that cybersecurity is a very competitive field.
An internship is an opportunity for degree holders or prospects to get the required experiences that they normally wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere easily.
Without any delay, let’s dive into what you would be learning today:
- What does a Cybersecurity intern do?
- Why get a cybersecurity internship
- Do Cybersecurity interns get paid?
- Types of cybersecurity internships
- Requirements for Cybersecurity internship
- Steps to getting a cybersecurity internship
- How to get a Cybersecurity internship with no experience
What does a Cybersecurity intern do?
Cybersecurity internships provide individuals with the opportunity to get the required experience needed in a world of a highly intelligent network of professionals that would push them towards achieving success.
A cybersecurity internship is a position held at a company for a limited time period for the sole purpose of gaining the experience of a cybersecurity engineer or analyst.
This position is oftentimes made available to fresh graduates who otherwise have no experience in the field and they are placed under the supervision of a more experienced cybersecurity engineer.
A cybersecurity intern performs various tasks like:
- Threat research and analysis
- Web application safeguards
- Penetration testing
- Assisting in the design of security solutions
- Data monitoring
- Scripts writing
A cybersecurity intern should be able to do all the following tasks listed above in the company his assigned.
Why get a cybersecurity internship?
You might be wondering, why do I need to get a cybersecurity internship? Why don’t I just enroll for direct employment or an entry-level cybersecurity position?
The short answer is you can, but given that cybersecurity jobs are so competitive today, we have seen that the chances of getting an internship role are much higher compared to a cybersecurity analyst job position.
Read our article for more information on the requirements for a cybersecurity analyst.
Cybersecurity internships also give you the chance to network with professionals in the industry, as you would need to know some of the major players in the field.
This is important because who you know can ultimately affect your job placements. Cybersecurity interns are also provided with the opportunity of learning how the industry works and how real-world projects and scenarios are tackled.
For those that have an interest in working remotely, cybersecurity provides such flexibility for remote cybersecurity analysts.
One thing though we do get asked a lot is, do cybersecurity interns get paid?
Do Cybersecurity interns get paid?
The short answer is yes and no. We have seen that majority of companies today employing cybersecurity engineers do offer some sort of compensation for their work.
There are still other companies usually startups that may be offering little to no compensation to cybersecurity interns. In the section below, we would be looking at the various types of cybersecurity internships out there.
Types of cybersecurity internships
Internships are different in almost all companies based on how they pay you for your work. There are two types of cybersecurity internships or any kind of internship for that matter:
Cybersecurity Paid Internships
Cybersecurity paid internships are the most appealing of all types of internships because not only would you gain the experience of a cybersecurity analyst, but it might also lead to a full-time job.
Big private companies are more likely to pay their cybersecurity analyst compared to small or startup companies and paid interns are offered a lower pay compared to full-time or even part-time cybersecurity engineers.
Cybersecurity Unpaid internships
These cybersecurity interns are offered no compensation at all. They are offered this position for the purpose of training and giving them the necessary experience needed to kick start their cybersecurity journey.
These types of internships are usually for a short period of time.
Cybersecurity Job Shadowing
This type of cybersecurity internship is quite unique as it requires the cyber security intern to move with a professional in the field and gain as much as he can within a short period of time.
Just like the unpaid internship, these categories of interns are not paid and the experiences gained are not usually as detailed and thorough as the paid internship.
Now that you know what you should expect in terms of internships, the next thing is knowing the requirements needed for a cybersecurity internship.
Requirements for Cybersecurity internship
Most interns are not expected to have such a wide range of skills and knowledge in the field, but there are mandatory skills that an intern should have before landing a cybersecurity job internship (most especially paid internship).
The most important requirements for landing a cybersecurity internship are how you present yourself to your employer, your passion for the profession, your willingness to learn new technologies, and also based off of the following listed skills.
Now the following are the basic requirements you need for a cybersecurity internship job role:
- Undergraduate or bachelor’s degree holder
- Knowledge in either Unix or Linux OS
- Microsoft Excel
- Strong Analytical skill
Undergraduate or bachelor’s degree holder
Industry standards require you to be a student or have finished a course or program in a university. The following field of study is acceptable:
- Computer science
- Computer Engineering
- Information Security or another related field of study.
In order to get a cybersecurity internship in a government organization, you would need to be a citizen of that country. Most government agencies don’t accept cybersecurity interns who are not citizens of their country, especially in the US.
Knowledge of either Unix or Linux OS
Having an understanding of UNIX and Linux systems helps you understand the architectural framework of how computer systems work. Linux is an open-source operating system that allows you to contribute to its functionality and framework.
As a cybersecurity intern, you must be familiar with Microsoft excel as it helps you prepare reports on cyber threat analysis and vulnerabilities within a system.
These reports can be represented using Excel’s components like graphs, statistics evaluations, and charts.
Having an understanding or how computers are networked and how they communicate with each other is important.
Programming languages like Java, C++, C# are important for a cybersecurity intern to know. As a cybersecurity intern, you should also know some scripting languages like Bash, Powershell, etc.
Knowledge of a database is also a requirement for a cybersecurity intern. An example is the SQL database language.
Strong Analytical skill
A cybersecurity intern should also have strong analytical skills, someone who is able to come up with solutions to cyber threats as they happen in real-time.
Steps to getting a cybersecurity internship
At this point, we would be looking at the exact steps you need to take to land your first cybersecurity internship:
Step1: Skill Up
At this stage, it is expected that you are either a student studying cybersecurity or a related course, or you are a graduate looking for your first internship in cybersecurity.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have the required skill. This would increase your chances of getting an internship, most especially a paid internship.
From the requirements above, you know where to start from. You should have an understanding in at least some of the above-listed requirement skills.
To distinguish yourself in the eyes of potential employers, you must be willing to display some level of skill that shows you deserve that internship position.
Step 2: Prepare your CV
At this stage, you should be brushing up on your CV and cover letter to apply for internships. Your CV should carefully outline all your skills as listed above, and should also emphasize your willingness to learn and improve.
Potential employers should be able to see your passion for the field in your CV.
Step 3: Apply for multiple Internship
You have some skills up your sleeves and you have prepared your CV and you feel confident to apply for an internship, the tip here is to apply for multiple internships. You might have a company you are targeting, but the prudent thing to do here applies to more than one internship.
This is because some internships are more competitive than others most especially paid internships in large industries or government organizations.
Spreading out your CV to more than one company drastically increases your chances of getting accepted into one of their programs.
Step 4: Prepare for the interview
From our research, we have found out that a job interview is one of the most intimidating things for most individuals who are seeking a job position of any kind.
This shouldn’t be the case. There are ways to improve your job performance interview:
- Make general research on the company (through social media and Google search)
- Make enquires about their payment plan for interns.
- Make specific enquires on the current project the company is working on presently and how you can contribute to its growing success.
- Make a list of questions to ask the interviewer after the interview session
Doing all this would send you into that interview armed to succeed.
Step 5: Networking
At this stage, you probably have landed your first cybersecurity internship. The next thing for you to do is get in touch with people within the company.
Show interest in the projects of other people, contribute, and socialize with them. By doing this, you would create a network of other professionals within the company that sees your passion and willingness to learn.
This might end up earning you a good rep within the company and a promise for a full-time cybersecurity job placement.
Step 6: Keep a Portfolio of your works
As a cybersecurity intern, you would be tasked with real-world projects that you need to document for future purposes.
These projects would help you build your career up to a level where you would be regarded as an authority in your field.
Having a portfolio of your works would also help you easily land a full-time job in a bigger and better cybersecurity company with far better compensation.
Can I get a Cybersecurity internship with no experience?
One of the most frequently asked questions by individuals who don’t have a degree in cybersecurity or other related fields.
The short answer is Yes
The long answer is it depends. Not having a degree in cybersecurity means you need to put in a lot more work than expected. The best place to start is:
- Getting a cybersecurity certification from an accredited school online
- Building up your skills
- Preparing your CV
- Applying to multiple internships
- Marketing yourself on platforms like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other online cybersecurity platforms
- Building up your portfolio of personal projects
- Preparing for the interview
- Network with other professionals
- Adding to your portfolio of works
While the idea of getting a full-time cybersecurity job can be daunting, getting an internship seems to be less competitive and can also fast-track your journey to landing that full-time job.
With the steps listed above, you should have a blueprint for landing that cybersecurity internship.