July 7, 2021

As an 18 year old Cybersecurity intern, what should I be doing to get a jump on the learning curve and prepare for the growing CyberSec field?

Hello Reddit, I’m a new Cybersecurity intern who started two weeks ago at a TeleComms company under the official title of IT Security Analyst Intern, getting paid $15/hr.

I managed to get this internship through a friend of the family whose company was desperate to teach young people about security due to the shortage of security personnel. I expressed my interest to him in CS, and he put me in touch with his boss who I interviewed with.

They prefaced with me that 1) I am their first security intern they’ve had, so they don’t necessarily know what to give me to do. And 2) I will absolutely not be doing help desk or customer service.

So now I’m drifting.

For the most part I am completing NSE Cert training, dipping my toes into CEH training, monitoring security problems, listening to everyone talk in meetings about stuff I have no idea about, and looking up everything I hear that I don’t know.

Occasionally I’ll have productive conversations about what I could potentially do like writing a script to automate the sorting of IPs, working on certain projects, deploying software, trying to hack an old laptop with Win 7 as an intro to pen testing, etc.

But as of today, I’m on my third week, and I feel like I’m not really doing anything. Some days I’ve had lots of free time, and I feel guilty because of how they talk about how busy they get with tickets. I want to be doing good work to beef up my resume and gain valuable experience, but I’m not even sure what I am supposed to be doing. They created this position for me to fill and I feel like I’m letting them down.

Every time I ask about what I should be doing, reading up on or learning, I don’t really get a straight response. I have been told directly to continue what I’m doing and if I get bored just do training for certs, which I’m okay doing. But I feel like I am not doing anything “particular”. When I’m beyond bored or clueless, I resort to researching and scrolling through CyberSec news.

I used to worked in retail before this, so going from minimum wage to $15/hr and also feeling like I’m not doing anything makes me feel like I have no right to be where I am. But on the other hand, I’m holding on tight to this position as long as possible. Going from on my feet 8 hrs/day for 6 days/week with rude co-workers, dealing with the general public, and 15 min lunch breaks, to sitting in an office for 6 hrs/day for 4 days/week and still getting paid more is a dream.

At times this amount of free time makes me wonder if everyone around me in the office (not that many, most work from home) are as busy as they seem. These people are Network Admins, Tech Analysts, SOC Manager, Project Managers, Internal Audit, etc. So I know they’ve probably got to be doing something right?

What should I be learning? What doing I be doing?

Sorry for the ramble! Any advice is appreciated!

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