Cybersecurity Internship: What to Know & Types Offered

Internships can be incredibly beneficial for students as they prepare to enter the world of professional paid employment. An internship can provide students the opportunity to work in a real-world setting in their field of study. Students can gain hands-on experience and support the lessons they’ve previously learned in an online degree program.

According to data from tech knowledge company TechJury, more than half a million Americans intern for free each year. Approximately 70% of employers offer full-time jobs to successful interns, and more than half of all internships result in full-time job offers.

An internship position comes with considerable advantages. Students can enhance their learning, support the development of new skills and put themselves on the fast track toward an exciting career. For students pursuing a degree in cybersecurity, information security or a related field, a cybersecurity internship can be a meaningful step on their career path.

What Does a Cybersecurity Intern Do? A Brief Look

Depending on the organization a student interns with, and the products or services the company provides, the responsibilities associated with an internship position in cybersecurity can vary.

Cybersecurity internships may incorporate basic administrative tasks related to technology and data security. This includes tasks like reading and responding to emails, organizing documents or other digital resources, researching and reviewing the company’s current IT policies, and researching new security products and strategies.

In addition, interns may also take part in projects that are more specific to cybersecurity. This work might encompass things like assisting in building a new digital system or platform, maintaining the network, participating in or helping lead security awareness training, and system auditing.

Both administrative tasks and cybersecurity projects can benefit students in an internship program. Interns can improve their professional communication skills, while working side-by-side with industry professionals on functioning information systems.

What to Know About Cybersecurity Internships

Before students look into available cybersecurity internship opportunities, there are a few important details to know.

Is Experience Required?

While some internship opportunities require candidates to have experience in the cybersecurity field, this is not a prerequisite for all internships. There are programs created just for undergraduates who have not yet worked in a professional capacity. Some internship opportunities are designed especially for students still completing their degree programs.

Applicants who demonstrate a passion for cybersecurity, information technology and related fields increase their chances of being considered, even without previous experience.

Can Students Acquire an Internship Before They Graduate?

As noted, there are internship programs specifically created with the needs of students in mind. Many internships last one to three months and can fit perfectly into students’ semester breaks. Additionally, some internship programs are flexible enough so that students can complete them while simultaneously taking classes.

Do Interns Get Paid?

Paid internship programs are increasingly popular, particularly in cybersecurity and information technology. While there are unpaid positions, a rising number of businesses are creating full-time, paid internship positions that provide students with more hands-on experience and opportunities to build their skills. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and Investopedia found that students who held paid internships were more likely to achieve employment after graduation than those who participated in unpaid internships.

The level of compensation can vary, however, when it comes to paid internships. ZipRecruiter reported that as of July 2022, the average annual earnings for cybersecurity interns was an impressive $87,614 (or approximately $42 per hour). CyberInternAcademy noted that compensation can range from $10 to $25 per hour, depending on the business, its location and the internship program’s requirements.

Top Types of Cybersecurity Internships

There are several different types of positions offered through cybersecurity internship programs, including the following roles.

  • Cybersecurity analyst internship: Interns work side by side with professional security analysts to pinpoint important digital assets and the ways in which these could be exploited by threats or cybercriminals.
  • Security assurance internship: This role enables interns to gain experience in security gap analysis, risk assessment and reporting, as well as risk documentation.
  • Application security internship: These internships might also be called “penetration testing” positions. They allow students to practice testing and reviewing the internal applications of businesses. Interns review the safeguards and application security policies that are in place, help identify any gaps or weaknesses and assist in resolving these cybersecurity issues.
  • Security management internship: Here, interns help professionals review existing documentation of security policies and assist in developing new policy documentation. Interns may also help create security awareness training assets and support internal training efforts.
  • Network management internship: Interns in this type of program help create and install network hardware while also establishing and maintaining physical and digital network security.

While these roles can vary or change based on a company’s internship program and its requirements, these are some of the popular opportunities that students will come across as they seek out internships.

Where to Find Cybersecurity Internships

The following popular cybersecurity internship programs can be a good place to start the search.

  • The National Security Agency’s (NSA) Cooperative Education Program: This intensive program goes beyond the traditional summer internship, with students rotating between a semester of full-time college and a semester of full-time work until graduation. Co-op students are paid and receive partial tuition reimbursement.
  • CIA Student Programs: The CIA offers paid internships for both undergraduate and graduate students in a range of fields, including cybersecurity.
  • IBM Security Services Specialist Internship: This summer internship is open to both students and graduates. Interns are paid to train to become security developers while working closely with IBM’s Security Services team.

A cybersecurity intern consults a tablet while working on a server.

Career Opportunities from Cybersecurity Internships

An internship in the field of cybersecurity can lead to a range of career opportunities, including chances to assume full-time roles in any of the following positions.

  • Information security analyst: This role involves protecting businesses from cybersecurity threats through network monitoring, security planning and risk assessment.
  • System administrator: The role of the system administrator is to keep an organization’s in-house network safe, regulating the activity of all registered users.
  • Cryptanalyst: In this law enforcement-focused role, cybersecurity professionals use mathematics and computer science skills to crack criminal codes.
  • Penetration tester: Penetration tester roles evaluate and probe cybersecurity systems, seeking any vulnerabilities that hackers might try to exploit.

Benefits of a Cybersecurity Internship

Completing a cybersecurity internship can yield numerous benefits.

  • In some organizations, succeeding in an internship can be the first step toward receiving a full-time job offer. According to a 2019 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), approximately 70% of interns received offers of employment.
  • Students who complete internships tend to receive as many as 16% more job offers than students who don’t complete internships, according to CompareCamp.
  • Roughly 60% of internships are paid, according to a report from CNBC. A 2021 NACE report revealed that the average hourly wage for interns is $20.76.
  • Completing an internship is an excellent way to hone skills that may be valuable as an individual progresses in their career.

Preparing for a Career in Cybersecurity

An internship is a highly beneficial way for students to support the lessons they learn, and is particularly advantageous in an online degree program. Students pursuing a degree in cybersecurity, information security or a related area can be exposed to the latest industry strategies and best practices while improving their professional communication skills and networking in the field.

To learn more about the advantages of a cybersecurity internship and how it can help you prepare for a career in cybersecurity, explore the online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Recommended Reading:

The Ultimate Cybersecurity Career and Salary Analysis

How to Get Into Cybersecurity With a Master of Science in Cybersecurity

4 Types of Cybersecurity Careers to Look Into After Graduation

Sources:

CIA, Student Programs

CNBC, “More Than 40% of Interns Are Still Unpaid—Here’s the History of Why That’s Legal”

CompareCamp, “98 Internship Statistics: 2020/2021 Data, Trends & Predictions”

IBM, Internships & Co-ops

National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2019 Internship & Co-Op Survey Report

National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2021 Internship & Co-Op Survey Report

TechJury, Internship Statistics

U.S. Intelligence Careers, Everything You Wanted to Know About NSA’s Co-Op Program