A bit about me:

I’m a Cyber Security and Digital Forensics student at the University of the West of England, currently in my sandwich year between the second and final year. My first foray into the cyber industry has been an internship at Reliance Cyber, and I’d like to share my experience with you.

Landing the internship:

During my second university year, I started applying for cybersecurity internships for my placement year. It was an optional step, but I was keen to get some real-world experience. I found this opportunity through a job site I hadn’t heard of before. The interview process involved three stages: an initial chat with HR, a technical interview with a senior staff member, and a final in-person presentation about the “7 leading threats in cyber security”. I was thrilled to get the offer from HR via email.

A typical day as a professional services intern

My role was working in the Professional Services Team. In the realm of cybersecurity, professional services encompass a diverse array of specialised support and consultancy. These services include conducting thorough risk assessments and management to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities, ensuring compliance with various regulations like GDPR through detailed audits, and designing robust security processes, protocols, and procedures. Additionally, they cover critical incident response for handling cyber attacks, alongside implementing effective training and awareness programs to educate staff about cybersecurity best practices. Moreover, data protection and privacy are prioritised, with strategies to safeguard sensitive information. Cybersecurity consulting also plays a pivotal role, offering tailored advice on strategy development, policy formation, and technology implementation to address unique security challenges faced by organisations. All in all, it’s a broad and very interesting area.

My work mainly focused on creating client reports from the workshops and meetings I attended, detailing findings and recommendations, and helping to develop their cyber maturity roadmaps. Each day ended with updating my university log and filling out my timesheet. In the evenings, I would often do my university work university work.

Key takeaways before starting

Looking back, I wish I’d known that it’s normal not to have extensive technical knowledge as an intern. Employers don’t expect you to know everything and are there to help you learn. Don’t stress about feeling out of your depth or taking longer to complete tasks. It’s also important to ask questions – don’t spend too long trying to figure things out on your own when colleagues are willing and able to help.

Skills gained

In just three months, I’ve been exposed to various standards and frameworks like ISO’s, GDPR, NIST SCF, and PCI DSS. The internship has offered real client exposure, both in-person and online, and it’s far from just a “tea-making” role. My team has been supportive, helping me grasp new concepts. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about CISSP, SOC2, HIPAA, and use platforms like RangeForce, with support for gaining AWS and Microsoft certifications.

Advice for maximising the internship experience

To make the most of an internship, set personal goals in addition to those set by your manager. Discuss these with your manager to see how they can support you. Always ask for feedback at the end of projects or tasks. It’s a learning opportunity, and showing curiosity can help you stand out. Lastly, document your achievements. You’ll be handling a variety of tasks, some for the first time, so keeping track will make updating your CV or LinkedIn profile much easier later on, especially in the early stages of your career.

By Harvey Keane, Professional Service Intern at Reliance Cyber