You got the cybersecurity internship of your dreams – now what? Learn from Cisco interns working on security to ensure you get the most out of your experience. If you’re energized by cybersecurity, le… Read more on Cisco Blogs

You got the cybersecurity internship of your dreams – now what? Learn from Cisco interns working on security to ensure you get the most out of your experience. If you’re energized by cybersecurity, learn about our emerging talent opportunities.

1: Communicate proactively

Effective communication is crucial to any new learning experience. Pratham Shroff, a software engineering intern working on Duo, recommends communicating as much as possible with your manager and colleagues such as through group team channels on WebEx.

When in-person opportunities arise, Shroff cuts through his shyness by introducing himself as “the pesky new intern.” He’s found this approach helpful for breaking the ice with senior leaders so the focus can be on building connections, not creating the perfect introduction.

2: Remember that internships are about learning

To ensure Technical Product Management Intern Violet Yu understood the intricacies of her projects, she took a lot of notes, studied materials her manager shared from articles to slide decks, and sought out external learning from YouTube. This helped her feel more prepared and able to support her assignments.

3: Ask questions

To build on that learning, asking questions is important and necessary. Yu found that, “when I was first onboarding even really busy people would say, ‘Oh, hey Violet, if you need any help, let me know. Just chat me on WebEx.’ I’d message anyone on my team with questions to help me piece everything together.”

That support continued when Yu wanted to review project details. “Everybody has been so nice and so encouraging at Cisco. If I say I don’t understand something, people are willing to take time to sit down and go through everything with me,” she said.

Shroff’s learned to ask questions when he doesn’t understandsomething in a meeting, instead of realizing later that he should have asked. He said, “people want you to learn and are there to help you.”

4: Maintain + expand your skills

How do you build your skillset? “Work on as many projects as you can, explore tech stacks, play around with what you like, see what works for you and get ahold of it, build your strengths. It is important to like what you do, no fun in work otherwise! Pursue what excites you,” Technical Intern Shubhangi Tiwari advises.

5: Connect with full-time colleagues

Full-time employees are happy to support and encourage your internship experience by being available to answer questions on project content, regional recommendations, and career development. For Shroff, “from day one, I’ve been encouraged to set up one-on-ones with a lot of people to have coffee chats, explore what they are doing, and shadow people. I’ve gotten exposure to how teams work and how people grow,” he said.

6: Bond with fellow interns

Building relationships with other interns can happen remotely and in person, formally and informally. Yu particularly appreciated meeting other interns during gaming nights. “It was just so fun because it felt like a really organic way to become friends. I’ve never seen any other internship program do that,” she said.

“It feels like I’m making friends for life with my coworkers.”
– Xander Hughes,
Front-End Web Development Intern

Connecting with colleagues has helped Xander Hughes, a front-end web development intern, “feel like I’m doing work that is actually making a difference,” he said. “Part of that comes from working on meaningful projects and the other half is the way my team and the other interns and I get along. We talk about work but also talk about our personal lives and what we like to do outside of work. It feels like I’m making friends for life with my coworkers.”

7: Be the best team member you can be

Interns are vital parts of our cybersecurity teams, so showing up as a colleague is critical for contributing effectively. Shroff suggests consistently communicating updates on your assigned projects while also being available to support others when needed. When a colleague recently asked if anyone was available to support a different project, Shroff responded, “I don’t know if I can be the best resource, but I can help if you guide me a little. I’m here.”

8: Tap into new interests

Internships are an exciting way to learn the innerworkings of new fields and new skills. Yu cemented her interest in cybersecurity through her internship.

“I really like cybersecurity, and I didn’t expect it.”
– Violet Yu,
Technical Product Management Intern

“Interning at Cisco has really opened up my eyes to how a big corporation runs and how global we are, which is really interesting,” she said. By immersing herself in learning through training, interning and Cisco classes, she realized, “I really like cybersecurity, and I didn’t expect it.”

9: Manage workload + time

Developing consistent and clear communication with your manager can help you manage your workload. Yu has appreciated that during her internship, “nobody ever pushes you too hard to the point where you’re stressed. My manager will tell me, ‘Oh, I have another project if you want to work on it depending on your workload.’” Organizing her notes from the day before also helps her stay on track.

Shroff has taken to heart a learning from his manager: “You own your own calendar.” That approach has helped him prioritize opportunities that happen simultaneously and chart his own path as an intern with the support of his team and time boxing.

10: Consider your future

Utilizing these tips will help you use your internship to determine your next steps. From talking with your manager about what career growth looks like in a particular industry to reflecting on the skills you like to use most or building your professional network, making the most of your cybersecurity internship starts with you.

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  By building relationships and communicating effectively, security interns at Cisco share how interns can develop career skills, networks and goals.  Read More Cisco Blogs