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Cyber Security, cyber security internship, Career and Work

5 Min Read

Landing an Internship on an Airplane

Colleges have many resources to help students find internships, including jobs boards, networking events and career fairs. But there are other ways to find internships, especially if you know what you want. For example, UAT network security student Gabriel Howard chatted up the guy sitting next to him on the plane home from Black Hat and left the airport with an internship. 

After volunteering as a Black Hat Conference Ambassador, Gabe felt simultaneously exhausted and excited. He helped the conference run smoothly, learned a lot during the sessions he got to attend (for free) and meet a lot of cool people. The passenger seated next to him on his flight back to Phoenix had a giant pillow. Gabe commented on how jealous he was, and they started chatting. The gentleman asked Gabe about his trip to Vegas, and they ended up talking about his experience at Black Hat and his studies at UAT. That man turned out to be City of Mesa CISO Lester Godsey, who offered Gabe an internship on the spot!

Gabe's internship with the City of Mesa focused on threat hunting and threat intelligence, which means finding out how vulnerable a network is and how a security team can respond to potential threats. Gabe also responded to phishing attempts using intrusion detection tools when malicious emails were detected on the network.




The City of Mesa also has community outreach programs, which Gabe got to work with. For example, he helped Mesa K-Ready to deploy software for tablets that children can use for learning.

Over the course of his internship, Gabriel encountered some obstacles such as collaborating and communicating effectively with an entire team and balancing work, school and life. His biggest takeaway: Don't be afraid to ask questions. Lots of questions. When he felt comfortable asking engineers the tough questions, he learned a lot and helped improve his contributions to the team. In the beginning, Gabe really struggled with time management, so he developed a schedule and stuck to it.




Overall, Gabe enjoyed his internship. Classes such as Security Essentials and Foundations of Systems Administration helped prepare him, especially with all that report writing and documentation.

All on-ground UAT students must complete an internship in order to graduate. Gabe's advice for students? "Do your own research outside of class, work on your own projects and get out there and talk to people." He recommends starting out in a basic cyber security or information technology internship, finding out what you like and then pursuing a more specialized internship. 


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