Hacking Into Cybersecurity: Security Interns Share Their Stories
At Bishop Fox, we have a robust internship program that has given many people an entry point to infosec. As a former intern at Bishop Fox myself, I recently entered the security field after graduating from Arizona State University. Initially, I encountered some difficulty breaking into the industry. Many companies prioritize field experience when offering an entry-level position, so I decided to try for an internship instead. Having spent countless hours reading technical blogs, partaking in capture-the-flag (CTF) competitions, and learning all that I could in my cybersecurity courses, my internship at Bishop Fox turned out to be my saving grace. The firm is unique in the fact that it truly values passion in their interns as well as in their employees. Since having proved myself as an intern, I’ve been fortunate enough to make the transition to a security analyst at the firm.
This experience got me thinking about what challenges other people encountered when entering the security industry and what ultimately brought them to Bishop Fox. So, I decided to interview several of our current and former interns to get a sense of their varied paths to cybersecurity and their experiences at the firm.
INTERNSHIPS ARE 31337
An internship at Bishop Fox is not run-of-the-mill. While you might focus on helping other consultants with smaller tasks or researching current attack vectors, most of the time you’ll spend doing actual hacker stuff (!!!). You’ll shadow incredibly intelligent folks popping shells and creating novel exploits to test the infrastructures of Fortune 100 organizations. When things are less busy, you can participate in CTFs or help out with ongoing security research projects.
Ashley Ruiz is a current intern at Bishop Fox and a computer science student at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico. She lives her passion for security every day as both an intern in our consulting practice and the Chief Marketing Officer at WeAreHackerz.com, a private global community of marginalized genders who hack. Initially, Ashley started a meetup for women at DEF CON to provide a channel for safety and networking. After that, she was invited to join the board for WeAreHackerz.
Ashley originally became interested in cybersecurity after seeing news reports about massive breaches that were happening across the world. Ashley reminisced, “I was always curious on how those breaches occurred. So, I took an introduction to cybersecurity course. After completing it, I knew infosec was where I wanted to be.”
Breaking into the cybersecurity industry is not an easy feat; even internships can be hard to come by. Ashley used her involvement in the security community to build connections with Bishop Fox consultants and recruiters with whom she met at the annual Women in Cybersecurity conference (WiCyS). By nurturing these relationships on social media and beyond, she was able to apply and interview as soon as applications opened. This gave her a critical opportunity to get her foot in the door and show off her skills.
Tommy Fields is a former Bishop Fox intern who is studying toward a master's degree in computer science at Georgia Tech. He has always been fascinated with online privacy and committed to his goal of staying secure online. Over the course of his schooling, he developed a knack for programming and understanding cybersecurity from the ground up. He recently earned his OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional) certification and now focuses on software security.
“At Bishop Fox, I learned that communicating with clients and team members is equally as important as technical ability,” said Tommy. As someone who had once studied toward degrees in both music and Chinese, it was encouraging for Tommy to learn that it takes more than just technical skills to be successful as a security consultant. “Overall, the knowledge I gained working alongside consultants at Bishop Fox was far more valuable than any degree or certificate I obtained.”
Meanwhile, Austin Ballard is a current intern at Bishop Fox and a computer science student at Arizona State University. He frequently competes in CTFs like Hivestorm and the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Austin also helps run a cybersecurity club at ASU, DevilSec, which teaches cybersecurity fundamentals. He shares similar sentiments to Tommy about his internship, but the on-the-job learning stuck out in particular to Austin.
“My internship has been an awesome time for me to learn because there is always someone doing something that I can shadow. This has given me invaluable insight into penetration testing. I get to witness the different methodologies and problem-solving processes at play. Then, I can use that information in my own work.”
Intern Allen Foust – who runs the aforementioned DevilSec at ASU and caught the attention of Bishop Fox recruiters as a high school student taking college courses – found a “home away from home, even though I’m working from home.” Although sometimes internships can be intimidating experiences, that wasn’t the case for Allen. He went on, “Bishop Fox has given me an opportunity to surround myself with a diverse set of talented people. Additionally, they provide us with the environment and the resources that enable us to thrive. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, I felt comfortable almost immediately.”
OUR PEOPLE MAKE BISHOP FOX A GREAT PLACE TO WORK
Not only do our interns have amazing hands-on experience from the start, but our culture as a firm is like no other. Our Foxes hail from all over the world and vastly different backgrounds. Here you will find people who are passionate about security, but also just as passionate about martial arts and horror movies. In Ashley’s words, “I was happy to find people who I can share interests with.” Many of our Foxes end up forming lifelong friendships outside of work.
Even with the current remote state of the world, our widespread team still finds ways to connect through things like the Bishop Fox Digital Olympics or virtual happy hours where folks casually shoot the breeze at the end of the workweek. Our diversity is truly one of our greatest assets, and we pride ourselves on hiring an array of people. Even though we’ve had exponential growth over the past few years, we’ve kept the same mindset we had when we were a 10-person organization working out of a garage.
Whether you’re hoping to transition into cybersecurity or you are completely new to the field, we encourage you to consider an internship at Bishop Fox. I know firsthand how the beginning of your career can feel somewhat discouraging, but no matter what, stay resilient and remember that everyone must start somewhere.
For more information on how to build up your security profile, check out our pen testing resource guide.
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