A Complete Guide to Cybersecurity Internships


This guide is intended to provide information about advanced cybersecurity internships to students and recent graduates. The guide provides details on the different types of internships available to cybersecurity students and recent graduates, as well as where to look for internships and what to expect from them.

It can be discouraging as a recent college graduate searching for the ideal job because every job posting needs, at the very least, some experience. But how are professionals expected to obtain the necessary expertise if all current jobs need it?

Internships can be an excellent way for individuals to gain experience without being required to have already held a similar position or a related job.

An internship is a temporary position that helps applicants to gain experience in their profession. It can be paid or unpaid. Career counsellors and internship placement services are often available at colleges and universities to assist students in seeking the ideal internship in their profession.

Internships are a perfect way to get hands-on experience in a real-world setting for people who want to learn in a practical setting.

Why Would you Want to do an Internship?

When a work opening is posted, hiring managers receive a flood of resumes. Although professionals may believe that their personality can win the managers over during an interview, having the interview can be the real challenge. It can be difficult to stand out in a sea of resumes.

Most companies choose to hire people who have some experience over those who have none. An internship will help you stand out from the crowd of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk.

According to a study conducted by the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition, graduates who completed more internships and had higher GPAs had a higher chance of finding work six months after graduation. According to NACE’s 2012 Student Survey, approximately 60% of college graduates who completed a paid internship in 2012 got at least one job offer.

Internships also provide individuals with a sense of confidence and comfort in a real-life working environment.

It can be daunting to join the workforce for the first time, but professionals who have completed an internship will have a greater understanding of organisational etiquette and will feel more at ease.

It’s no secret that networking is an essential part of every industry’s growth. Knowing the right people can mean the difference between finding work quickly and getting stuck applying for job after job. Internships provide candidates with the opportunity to network with professionals in their industry, many of whom may have their own connections. During the work search, these links would be extremely useful.

Finally, it’s not unusual for a paid internship (or, on rare occasions, an unpaid internship) to lead to a full-time job offer from the company. When it comes to filling open vacancies, companies often turn to their intern pool. Since the businesses have already invested money in their interns, this is the case. Hiring those who have already shown that they can blend into the company’s culture and employees makes the most sense.

Types of Internships

When considering internships, keep in mind that not all internships are created equal. When a professional is searching for an internship, they can do their research and decide which internship is the best fit for them. Career counsellors and internship placement services may help students in college or universities make this choice.

  • Internships that pay: Although paid internships seem to be the most attractive to any job seeker, they may be more difficult to locate and secure than unpaid internships. Paid internships are often followed by offers of full-time employment. Paying internships are more likely to be offered by private businesses and large organisations. Interns who are hired for a paid internship are typically paid an hourly wage, but they can also receive a fee or a lump sum payment. Paid internships typically pay much less than a full-time or part-time job in the same profession, but they are still very valuable because they can often lead to a full-time role.
  • Internship for no pay: An unpaid internship is just that: an internship with the sole purpose of preparing the employee for the workforce and providing them with on-the-job training. Unpaid internships are more popular than paid internships, and they are frequently for a limited period of time. Summer internships, for example, are the most popular form of unpaid internship. Despite the fact that these internships do not pay, the knowledge and experience gained are invaluable in the future.
  • Externship: An externship is similar to a work shadowing experience. Typically, the student will shadow a well-known expert in the area. Externship timeframes are not as specified as internship timeframes, which typically last an entire season (fall, winter, spring, or summer). Students may spend one day to several months shadowing the esteemed person.
  • Credit-bearing internship: Students may be paid for their internship in a variety of ways, including monetary compensation. Internships are often recognised by colleges and universities as a way for students to earn college credits. Internships will have differing criteria for credit at different schools.

Preparing to apply for an internship

Organizations, including real jobs, don’t just hand out internships to everyone who asks. Students must ensure that they stand out from the crowd of applicants. It is important that students maintain outstanding grades and participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible that are related to their chosen career. Students should take advantage of any available in-school resources to improve their resume and cover letter.

A cover letter and resume should be prepared for those seeking an internship. Students applying for internships are unlikely to have a lot of prior job experience, so instead of emphasising that, the resume should highlight accomplishments made during their time in school. Projects, expertise, volunteering, and extracurricular activities, for example, are all excellent additions to an internship resume.

The cover letter, like the resume, should be tailored to the student’s desired area and industry. Students should use the cover letter to demonstrate what sets them apart from other students and to sell their own abilities. Students should study the industry and business before writing a cover letter, and incorporate as much of both as possible.

Before an entity can agree to give a student an internship, the student will almost always be asked to attend an interview. The interview should be treated as if it were a full-time work interview.

While acing the interview will help land the internship, it will also provide students with interview experience for when the time comes to interview for a full-time role.

Students should look up interview questions that are often asked and plan customised responses. Many job-search websites, such as Glassdoor.com and Linkedin.com, can have a list of popular interview questions. Students should study the business and plan a few questions to ask their interviewer about the company and industry. This demonstrates enthusiasm and can make students stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Internships and cybersecurity

Internships are advantageous in almost every sector, and cybersecurity is no exception. There is a severe shortage of cybersecurity experts who are both trained and experienced. Internships are one way for new cybersecurity graduates to gain the experience they need to enter the workforce right away. There are several factors to consider when it comes to cybersecurity, including whether a government internship or a private sector internship makes the most sense.

As previously mentioned in this guide, it is much more likely that a private organisation will pay for an internship. Obtaining a government internship, on the other hand, will be the most useful for students interested in pursuing a full-time job in the government sector.

Government internships

Internships with the government can be a great way to acquire the knowledge and expertise you need to land the ideal cybersecurity job. Unlike other private businesses that offer internships on a seasonal basis, the government offers internships throughout the year.

The Department of Homeland Security, for example, offers a government cybersecurity internship programme. The Department of Homeland Security offers a ten-week internship that pays, unlike some other government internships. For a ten-week full-time internship, students may expect to earn about $5,800.

Salary will differ based on previous job experience, schooling, and other factors. This internship will enable students to work alongside some of the Department of Homeland Security’s top cybersecurity experts. This internship focuses on malicious code detection, forensic analysis, incident handling, and intrusion detection and prevention, among other topics.

Individuals would need to really stand out to get this form of internship since it is a paid internship that enables students to receive highly sought-after hands-on experience.

Students must meet the following requirements for this internship:

  • Be a resident of the United States of America.
  • Possess the ability to receive and maintain a security clearance.
  • Be enrolled in a bachelor’s or master’s degree programme in an accredited university with a major in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Computer Engineering, Network Engineering, Software Engineering, Supply Chain, Information Assurance, Information Technology, Systems Research, Systems Applications, Information Systems, Information Security, Software Assurance, or Business with a specific concentration in one of the above
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate both orally and in writing.
  • Demonstrate project management skills.

The Department of Homeland Security isn’t the only federal agency that provides internships in cybersecurity. Many government agencies, in reality, have similar internship opportunities. Internships are available at the following government agencies:

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • National Security Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation

The easiest way to find internships in the federal government is to go directly to the website of the department you’re interested in or to use the website USAJOBS.gov.

Non-government internship

An internship outside of the government sector may help those interested in pursuing a full-time career in government, those interested in working for a private company, or those who are simply unsure. Whether or not non-government agencies offer paid or unpaid internships varies.

Students have access to a variety of websites that will help them find the ideal internship.

  • LinkedIn.com is always a great resource for professionals throughout their careers. It provides students with a way to create connections that will be helpful down the road. Students can search for internships by simply navigating to the jobs page and typing “internship” into the search box. You could refine the search by adding words such as “cybersecurity internship” or “risk management internship”.
  • Internships.com is another fantastic option to locate cybersecurity internships is the website Internships.com. This website allows students to type in keywords and locations. For example, students who are interested in a computer forensics career in New York City could do a search using the keywords “computer forensics” and the location of New York City.
  • WayUp.com, previously known as InternMatch.com, is another website built specifically to match students with their perfect internship. Students will need to create a personalized profile and fill in their information before WayUp will try to match them with an employer.
  • Glassdoor.com can provide many benefits to students including the ability to instantly check salaries and find employee reviews of potential employers. Glassdoor can also help students locate internships and can also help them locate full-time jobs when the time is right.

McAfee’s Cybersecurity Technical Support Internship is an example of a non-government cybersecurity internship. This internship programme lasts for 10-12 weeks over the summer. Interns will work on a difficult project that combines strategic and organisational work. Interns will have access to a network of people that will help them have a good internship.

The following are some of the conditions for this internship:

  • Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Information Security are all possible majors.
    GPA of 3.0 or higher is needed.
  • Currently or in the future, you are qualified to work in the United States without the need for work authorization sponsorship.
  • Within one year of completing your internship and receiving your degree.
  • Networking / Troubleshooting experience in the following areas:
  • Administering and troubleshooting Widows client/server operating systems (Win 7,8,10, Server 2003, 2008, 2012) by utilising the command line interface, logs, and services.
  • Expertise in fault isolation when it comes to diagnosing and resolving network compatibility problems.
  • Extensive knowledge of viruses, malware, and anti-virus software
  • It would be preferable, but not necessary, if you had prior experience with Linux and SQL.
  • Understanding and putting constructive listening into practise
  • Understanding of open-ended/closed-ended and questioning questions, as well as the right to ask them

Types of Internships Related to Cybersecurity

While generic internships may be found by searching for keywords like “cybersecurity intern” or “information security intern,” it might be much more helpful to locate an internship in the specific field of cybersecurity that a person wishes to pursue. An person seeking a full-time position in risk management, for example, would be better off finding a risk management internship.

Internships are available in a variety of cybersecurity fields, including risk management, computer forensics, security analyst, penetration testing, and more.

Listed below are a few examples of advanced internships.

Computer Forensics Internship – U.S. Department of Justice

“Your position at the High Technology Investigation Unit will be a specific one,” according to the job description (taken from the DOJ website). The HTIU allows current graduate and undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience in the area of computer forensics. One day, you might be asked to restore a Linux server, and the next, you might be asked to review log files from an electronic wiretap. You will be required to complete a long-term assignment in addition to your short-term assignments, which will greatly contribute to the HTIU’s overall success.”

The requirements to land this internship include:

  • Students studying computer science at the undergraduate and graduate levels are qualified to apply.
  • All interns must go through a security check before being hired, which requires a name and fingerprint clearance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as a determination of suitability for employment based on the details provided in the security form.
  • Citizenship in the United States is expected.
  • Applicants must also have spent at least 37 of the previous 60 months in the United States.

X-Force Red- Penetration Tester Internship – IBM

Job description (pulled from IBM’s website):

Are you interested in breaking into software, networks, systems, databases, computers, and other technology to find and patch security flaws? Are you interested in joining a group of like-minded, passionate experts who have spent decades breaking into anything and all to help businesses improve their security? If that’s the case, X-Force Red, IBM Security’s team of seasoned hackers, is looking for interns for the summer of 2020 in Austin, TX, and you may be the right candidate.

The following are the conditions for this internship:

  • Demonstrated leadership and adaptability, as well as a willingness to readily and willingly take on highly demanding roles and issues, even though they are beyond the reach of their initial responsibilities.
  • Thorough and logical, with the ability to solve problems using logic.
    Ability to manage several tasks at once and meet deadlines while remaining focused in the face of competing demands.
  • Drive to conquer the most daunting or frustrating challenges and seek out ways to maximise outcomes.
  • Taking the initiative to learn new things and develop one’s skills.
    Good leadership skills, including the ability to communicate and work efficiently with individuals and teams to achieve win-win outcomes.
  • Ability to clearly and simply express complex situations by consciously listening and conveying complicated messages in a constructive manner.
  • A desire to come up with new ideas, as well as the capacity to comprehend and assimilate various points of view.
  • Network Penetration Testing, Application Penetration Testing, Red Teaming, Social Engineering, and Vulnerability Scanning are some of the security domains in which knowledge or expertise is needed.
  • It is preferable if you have prior experience with offensive security testing in any capacity.
  • Are you a rising sophomore, junior, or senior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in a field related to security?
  • Must have a track record of academic achievement.

Last Thoughts on Cybersecurity Internships

Although transitioning from an undergraduate to a professional life can be overwhelming, an internship can make the process much easier.

Cybersecurity professionals can learn hands-on training of items such as malware analytics, risk management and penetration testing in a real-world environment.

Internships can offer you the chance to network with seasoned cybersecurity professionals and make lifelong connections. Although there are several different types of internships, including paid, unpaid, and externships, each one will provide students with unique benefits that will help them prepare for the real world. Since cybersecurity is such a broad concept that it encompasses a wide range of specialties, students interested in a particular area (such as computer forensics or penetration testing) should look for an internship that focuses on that field.

Regardless of the type of internship a student obtains, it will all be useful to their resume.

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.