Our Intern Spotlight is a series of posts throughout the summer highlighting the experiences of TDi’s cybersecurity interns as they develop their skills to be the next defenders of IT and OT operations. If you missed our first Intern Spotlight with Hector, our UI and UX intern, you can read it here.
To learn more about TDi’s internship program and how we are growing the next set of IT and OT security professionals, you can read our cybersecurity internship overview here.
Meet Jonathan, our Development Cybersecurity Intern
Jonathan is a computer science major and our intern on the development team. He has always enjoyed technology, especially computers and software. When he took his first computer science class in high school, he found himself drawn to the problem solving and logical aspects of coding.
He continued this path into college, picking up his initial internship with TDi during his first summer there. He wanted to learn more about the field of cybersecurity and software development, like how developing and delivering software really worked outside of the classroom.
Now a college senior, he’s also a veteran intern at TDi. Jonathan has interned with us during his summers and winters since 2019 and is preparing to enter the professional world. Below, we ask Jonathan about his experiences during the cybersecurity internship.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
I think I like the software development path. I like working to solve problems and fixing them using logic and thinking, that sort of thing. That’s a pretty big branch in the field on its own, but if I could continue here at TDi, I would love that.
So, software development is the big answer. The smaller answer after that, I’m not quite so sure.
Has your cybersecurity internship experience helped you achieve your career goals?
Yea absolutely. My first month of my first summer, I learned just as much, if not more, about programming and coding than in school. Professional coding more specifically, instead of just textbook problems and things of that nature, which has been a really great experience.
Being able to work for 40 hours a week for 10 to 12 weeks of summer has really helped me learn exponentially faster than you do in the classroom. Being able to work with a team of people that have been in the industry for a long time, and that have a lot of experience that can guide me and tell me where to look and how to fix problems, has really helped my general problem-solving skills. That’s been really great to help me get set.
Initially going into the internship, I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I was going to be good enough to work in the industry or be good enough to do an engineering job or anything like that. This has really made me confident in my decision that this is something that I would want to do.
Is working in cybersecurity what you thought it would be or did something surprise you?
I was definitely surprised when I started working in cybersecurity. I didn’t have any knowledge of what professional cybersecurity looked like. I just had generic movie ideas of hackers and coding and trying to fight against people trying to come into your network.
But the real surprise for me came in developing a software to prevent that. I had never considered that a software like ConsoleWorks would be an effective cybersecurity measure because I had never been exposed to that kind of thing before.
What about working in software development, did something surprise you there?
I didn’t know what to expect coming in. I was expecting that it would be pretty hard to do. Generally, a lot of working with ConsoleWorks has been something I can pick up and learn faster than I thought I would be able to.
So that has been surprising for me. I didn’t think I would be useful to the company or the engineering department in the way that I have been – the projects I’ve been able to work on, the things I’ve been able to do.
What have you been working on?
Last summer, my biggest project was on a baseline script that monitored everything that happened in a section of time since the baseline’s previous run. It monitored everything that happened in ConsoleWorks. If you run this baseline on Tuesday and on Wednesday someone logs in, accesses consoles, adds two devices and deletes two others, they log out, and the next day you run the baseline again, everything is monitored there.
You can see the changes between the previous run and the current run. Which was really good for a customer to see, to give them an easier roadmap of what had been happening in a day, a week, or a month in ConsoleWorks or if anything major had changed.
The summer before that, I worked with engineering and devops on a Nozomi integration. I was working on writing scripts that would help capture data and integrate with ConsoleWorks, putting all of that inside of a dashboard. Those have been my biggest projects.
The first summer I got here was a lot of developing work. Learning about ConsoleWorks, what consoles are, how it relates to the software and everything that is tracked and monitored.
Since then, a lot of my work has been with baselines, like writing baselines and writing the example system for baselines. It was my job to familiarize myself with them and I wrote a small paper about effective ways to utilize baselines.
What’s the most challenging part of your cybersecurity internship?
One of the most challenging things has been adjusting from the instructor/teacher style of classes, to teaching myself and being self-reliant with a lot of things. That’s not to say I haven’t had help along the way, all of the team is there and helping me with any questions I have.
But when I encounter a problem or I have a question, my first thought that I try to start with is “how can I fix this myself? Is there a solution I can find or something I can read that will help me fix this problem?” It’s been rewarding, because as I’ve gotten better, it’s made me more productive and less reliant on other people.
While it’s definitely been a challenge to learn at a different level and develop at a different level doing different types of work compared to textbook problems, it’s been equally rewarding.
What is your favorite thing about working at TDi?
Working in teams and being able to accomplish things bigger than what I would be able to do myself. And the general satisfaction and pride that you get from working on a project and putting a lot of time and effort into it, and then pushing that project out to customers who will use it and find it helpful for their business. It’s a really rewarding feeling.
That’s not something you quite get in the education system. It’s similar to getting a good grade or feedback, but people are paying for what I’m making, so they expect something quality and being able to provide that is a good thing.
What would you tell a student interested in an internship at TDi?
I would say just try not to be intimidated. Come in with coachability and stay openminded to learning and to taking challenges head on. Try to accomplish things that you never have before. At times it can seem difficult, but it’s equally rewarding in that aspect.
If you keep working at it and just keep chipping away, even if it means some days you don’t get much done, or feel like you wasted your time or day, if you come back and you make a breakthrough then you’ll forget about what happened and it’ll be worth it.
It’s a great company with a lot of great people. The engineering team, which I’ve been working with the most, has been extremely helpful in helping me learn and aren’t agitated when I ask 10 or 20 questions a day. It’s been a great experience.
Keep Watch for More Internship Spotlights
We have more on the way! Stay tuned to our updates page for the latest on our internship spotlights and other updates for cybersecurity in IT and OT operations.
To learn more about TDi’s internship program and how we are growing this country’s next set of IT and OT defenders, you can also read our cybersecurity internship overview here.