How to Get a Cyber Security Internship In 2024

How to Get a Cyber Security Internship

Everybody understands the value of an internship, but not everyone knows how to land one. 

Many applicants lack cyber security work experience and have never looked for an internship before, so the prospect of landing one could be daunting. 

In fact, getting a cyber security internship requires understanding what you offer, how to market yourself, what types of internships are available, and where to look. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of securing an internship and provide you with strategies for making the most of it. 

How to get a cyber security internship? Keep on reading to find out. 

Why Should I Get a Cyber Security Internship?

Companies want their new hires to step into the office on day one and be able to contribute. To do so you’ll need to gain professional experience prior to applying for full-time positions. 

Working in a professional setting is the absolute best way to gain hands-on experience and learn about technical tools. 

Certificates, self-study, and labs are all great ways to learn cyber security skills, but nothing compares to working in a team surrounded by professionals to give you the technical know-how and knowledge foundation you’ll need to break into the industry. 

More than experience, a cyber security internship puts you in the same room as professionals. Use your time as an intern to network, learn from others, and grow your professional network. Doing so will prove invaluable as you later search for a full-time job. The contacts you’ll make can offer recommendations, advice, or refer you for a position. 

When the time to apply to full-time positions comes, mentioning an internship on a resume will make your application more appealing to employers, as you now have that otherwise missing work experience. 

Lastly—as you’re still probably new to cyber security—working as an intern will show you once and for all if this is the right field for you.  

Should I Take a Cyber Security Internship if I’m Not Paid? 

The paid internship debate has been raging for years. 

While it seems logical to want to get paid if employed by a company, turning down unpaid internships could mean missing out on an amazing opportunity to gain real-world experience. 

Here’s the reality: if you have little to no professional experience and are presented with the chance to work at a company in a capacity that aligns with your professional goals, you should take it. 

Demonstrating that you were an effective cyber or IT team member will put you miles ahead of fellow applicants who didn’t intern. 

It’s a resume booster that bumps your application closer to the top of the pile. 

Also understand that the difference between (most) interns and full-time employees is that the former are being trained and invested in, whereas the latter already have the skills needed to contribute meaningfully. 

Companies spend time and resources on interns, which costs the employer money. While interns are expected to contribute, they are not held to the same standard as seasoned professionals. For this reason, many companies decide not to pay interns. 

Think of an internship as an extension of your education rather than a job. Use this time to soak up as much information as you can and the experience as a springboard to land your first job.  

Training and certifications both cost money. Think of an internship as the next investment in yourself and your journey toward becoming a full-time cyber professional. 

What Do Cyber Security Interns Do?

Your responsibilities will depend on your title and the company you intern with. 

After examining various posts for cyber security internships, here are some of the most common responsibilities we found:

  • Research and analyze cyber incidents and threat intelligence reports
  • Detect, alert, and respond to malicious network activity
  • Migrate legacy programs to a single solution
  • Help plan and implement cyber security projects and company initiatives
  • Execute an array of entry-level IT, network security, and other technical skills
  • Basic penetration testing
What Do Cyber Security Interns Do

A few different intern roles we came across were:

  • Cyber threat intelligence intern
  • Information security intern
  • Security engineer intern
  • Technology risk intern
  • IAM intern

The vast majority of internships are categorized as information security ones. In this position, you expect to use a variety of blue-team software to work with the security team to protect vital systems and data. You may be working with a ticketing system, monitoring their SIEM, and creating incident and threat intelligence reports. 

Preparation for a Cyber Security Internship

Just because internships are first and foremost learning experiences doesn’t mean you want to go in green. Use your time wisely prior to the internship to learn valuable skills and acquire knowledge that will help you excel in your internship.   

What Skills Do I Need for a Cyber Security Internship? 

This all depends on the type of role you’re applying for. 

There is no single skill that will land you an internship. Focus on gaining knowledge and learning skills that align with your professional goals. Then, look for internships that will teach you and further refine those skills. 

That being said there are a number of skills, knowledge domains, and certifications worth exploring. Acquiring the following will help you stand out among applicants and prepare your role as an intern. 

Remember, not all of these are necessary, and this is not a totally comprehensive list. When choosing what to focus on, consider your long-term career goals as well as your short-term goals.

Certifications:

Technical Skills:

Soft Skills:

  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Creative thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Motivation

How Do I Prepare for a Cyber Security Internship With No Experience? 

While you might not think so, you probably already have some experience and us—and if not, it’s easy to gain. 

If you’re a student, the best way to prepare for a cyber security internship is to perform tasks similar to those you’ll be performing as an intern or full-time professional. 

Demonstrate your prowess in these tasks by completing projects and labs.

Let’s say you want to showcase your skills as a penetration tester. 

To do so, you may consider using the VulnHub platform to hack into vulnerable machines. After that, you’ll want to write a penetrating testing report demonstrating the steps you took to break into the machine and including remediation suggestions. 

If you’re more interested in scoring a blue-team role, consider downloading PCAP files designed for network monitoring practice. 

Here you’ll be able to read PCAP files captured via Wireshark that contain malicious traffic. Learning how to read these files will help you gain valuable blue team skills. Write reports for your online portfolio.

If you’re already a member of StationX, you have access to hundreds of labs. 

Obtaining a cyber security internship with no experience is possible, so long as you’re willing to put in the work. 

How to Get a Cyber Security Internship

There are many tactics you can use to secure a digital security internship. 

1) Research companies and organizations

If you don’t know where to apply, start by researching companies in your area and major cyber security companies that may offer remote internships. Look for companies that specialize in cyber security and offer cyber-specific services rather than simply large IT companies. 

2) Check for internship opportunities

After you’ve identified a number of companies, check their websites, social media platforms, Indeed, LinkedIn, and other job boards for internship opportunities. 

3) Directly reach out to employers

If you’re struggling to find info on internships but have a hunch a company may be hiring or is about to post internship opportunities reach out directly. Email, call, or shoot them a message via LinkedIn or social media to inquire. Being proactive and showing passion might be enough to secure an internship. 

4) Network

Mine your social network for people who can help you get a cyber security internship. Ask around to find internships or find someone willing to refer you for a position. Being referred for an internship is the single best way to ensure that your application is considered at the top of the pile. 

5) Tailor your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter

Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn are how you present yourself to employers. Refine and customize them to the internship and company you’re applying to. 

6) Prepare for the interview

Prepare for an interview by re-reading the job description and making sure you understand the role and responsibilities. Practice answering technical and behavioral questions prior to the interview. Use the STAR method when responding to behavioral questions. Also come armed with knowledge about the company, their offerings, and questions of your own. 

7) Follow up after the interview

Following up with the person or people who interviewed you via email is an easy way to indicate interest and stand out from other applicants. 

Cyber Security Internship for Students 

Currently enrolled high school, college, or graduate students typically have access to a job search platform through their school. 

Make sure you’re checking this platform when searching for internships. Employers posting on these platforms often have a positive relationship with your school. 

This probably means they have hired students from your school, are donors, or already have students from your school working at their company. For these reasons, your application may be given preferential treatment. 

Cyber Security Internship Advice

Whether you’re a cyber security student or a non-student, you can stand out by paying attention to how you present online. 

You should use a personal branding strategy to appeal to employers. This means optimizing your social media platforms—even the non-business-related ones—resume, cover letters, and networking strategy. 

Once you’ve used your personal brand to convince employers to interview you, it’s time to nail that interview. Read up on interview tactics, learn the STAR method, perfect your elevator pitch, and practice common behavior and technical questions related to the internship you’re applying for. 

How Do I Make the Most of My Cyber Security Internship?

Milk your internship for every drop it’s worth.

Before the internship starts come in with a plan of how to get the most from your experience.

To do so, use some of the following strategies:

  • Before starting the internship, understand exactly what you’ll learn and brush up on the software and tools you’ll use.
  • Have clearly defined learning objectives.
  • Network, network, network. Talk with everyone, ask to shadow employees, make connections, and connect on LinkedIn.
  • Seek feedback from those around you on what you can improve upon.
  • Find a mentor that will guide you during and after the internship.
  • Understand career opportunities and build connections with those in teams you hope to work with after the internship.
  • Be sure to ask for recommendations.
  • Learn as much as you possibly can and push yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

Going From Cyber Security Internship to Cyber Security Career

Everything you do and learn in your internship can be used to kickstart your cyber security career. 

The best way to turn that internship into a career is to inquire about openings at the company where you interned. As the company already knows you, the hiring managers will be aware of what they’re getting should they make you a job offer. 

Even if the company you’ve interned at doesn’t have openings or decides to hire you after the end of the internship, ask those you’ve been working closely with during your internship for references. Offer these references when applying to full-time positions.

Lastly, be sure to succinctly distill what you learned in your internship onto your resume. On paper, the internship is all for naught if you can’t effectively articulate what you learned and the experience you gained. 

Conclusion

Supplied with this cyber security internship advice, it’s now time to find an internship. 

An internship in cyber security is an invaluable way to gain hands-on experience in digital security. Paid or not, should you be offered an internship that aligns with your long-term goals, take it. 

Cyber security internship roles and responsibilities differ, so pay close attention to the job description when applying. 

And if you’re wondering how to score a cyber security internship with no experience, remember that chances are you already have the experience you can put on your resume, whether that be labs you’ve completed, courses you’ve taken, or other forms of experience you’ve gained from the workplace. And if not, you can use plenty of online resources to gain some. 

One way to learn about cyber security fundamentals and complete labs is to sign up for the StationX Accelerator Program. Here, you’ll have access to over 1,000 courses and labs, career mentors, a mastermind program, personalized study roadmaps, and a community of cyber security enthusiasts and professionals. 

Here are some courses you may consider to help prepare you for a cyber security internship:

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  • Spencer Abel

    Spencer is part cyber security professional and part content writer. He specializes in helping those attempting to pivot into the vast and always-changing world of cyber security by making complex topics fun and palatable. Connect with him over at LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with his latest content.

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