Our Intern Spotlight series highlights the experiences of interns at TDi. If you want to read previous entries in our Intern Spotlight series, you can see our other posts below:
Intern Spotlight with Hector, our UI and UX Intern
Intern Spotlight with Jonathan, our Development Intern
Intern Spotlight with Carter, our DevOps Intern
Intern Spotlight with Julia, our Graphic Design Intern
Intern Spotlight with Franklin, our Product Engineering Intern
Meet Jacob, our Software Engineering Intern
Jacob is a sophomore Computer Science major. Growing up, he was involved in Boy Scouts. In high school he got involved in coding and doing cybersecurity competitions in the Cyber Patriot program. It was here that he first learned about TDi, as Jacob’s team was sponsored by the company.
Once he entered college, he was ready to start getting more experience and entered his internship in May 2020. Below we talk about his experiences in cybersecurity and at TDi.
What led you to concentrate on your field of study?
What got me into cybersecurity specifically, is I started participating in the Cyber Patriot competition in Freshmen year of high school. That competition was really interesting to me because it’s different every time and you’re finding different vulnerabilities in the operating systems. You only have a specific amount of time and you get instant feedback. I really enjoyed that.
Did anything surprise you once you started doing your software engineering internship? Was it different from what you thought it would be?
The biggest difference is that in a lot of the Cyber Patriots stuff, you would write scripts to help automate things, but a lot of that on the Windows end was very visual. ConsoleWorks has a lot of visual elements, but most of what I end up doing is not. So, it’s not that I wasn’t expecting that, but it’s just a little different.
What I think is really cool, is my first thing with the CIS benchmarks. I wrote the benchmarks, got those so they would run. The next thing was getting it to upload, getting that working. My most recent project was developing reports for those baselines that I helped write. It’s fun to build on it.
Has anything you’ve done in college helped with the internship or do you think the internship will help you this year in college?
I think the biggest experience from the internship is finding the right way to think about things. I think the application of coding is so much more useful, at least to me, than a lot of the more theoretical stuff that I’ve heard in some of my classes.
I think using it and writing code and figuring out the process of debugging and finding fixes for weird errors and things you’re not able to do – I think that’s useful for me to help develop more skills. I think that will help me in future classes at school.
In school the biggest thing they emphasize is the mindset and way to think about the problems and I think that has helped, but I think the actual experience is more important.
What’s the most challenging part of your software engineering internship?
I think the biggest thing for me was just getting used to figuring things out and getting used to doing it. Solving the problems, making up for any knowledge I didn’t have already.
Did the team help you fill in those gaps?
Yea – when I started, I mostly worked with Carter, because he had already written a few of the baselines. He talked me through how to do that and I was able to use them as examples. Recently other team members have been incredibly helpful when I run into walls because there’s other stuff I’m doing now that’s completely unrelated to previous stuff. It’s helpful when I can’t make headway and need to take a step back and figure out what an issue might be.
Has your software engineering internship experience helped you achieve your career goals?
It’s definitely helping me to get important experience and it helps keep me remembering why I enjoy computer science. The classes can be really hard and a lot of work. Every once and a while the work kind of outweighs it, like “is this something I want to do?”
So the internship helps to keep me remembering why I enjoy it and why I started doing computer science in the first place.
Do you think you’ll go into cybersecurity?
Yea I would like to go into cybersecurity. Probably on the software development side. It’s more important now than ever. It will only grow in importance as people find newer and newer ways to break systems. It’s a field that allows for continual learning. You can’t stop. It’s important for people, but it’s also important for things as big as countries.
The only other thing I’ve done that’s completely unrelated is I wrote a book that was published last April. It’s about how certain musicians can really change music because they disregard what audiences think and try completely new things. That was a really fun thing for me – completely different than what I normally do with work and school.
It seems like you’ve got that analytical perspective and you carried it over into your writing too.
I’ve always really liked music. One of the things I like about music is the lyricism and what it means, what the artist is trying to say. I think that attention to detail carries into coding. And that type of analyses also carries back, looking at things line by line.
What’s your favorite part about the software engineering internship?
It goes back to how I like that I’ve been doing stuff that builds on each other and is going to be used. I like that the stuff I’m doing is important and will be used by people. I also have liked the people I’ve worked with. That’s been really nice. Everyone is so supportive here.
Thinking about how to solve very specific problems – an example is one of the things I had to write – we needed two values to be put into this thing that ran. There was no way to really pass the values directly, so I had to start using custom files. One would write to it, and one would pull from it. So it’s getting the values, but not really in a linear way.
Now we figured out how to directly pass through it, but I thought things like that, figuring out how to make things work, was really cool.
What would you tell a student interested in a cybersecurity internship at TDi?
I’d tell them it’s important to be curious and keep learning about computer science and cybersecurity. Not even just that, but just anything really. As we talked about earlier, things kind of loop back in. Make sure you’re taking classes that are beneficial and that you’re getting the knowledge you need to participate in cybersecurity.
Keep Watch for More Internship Spotlights
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. To learn more about TDi’s internship program, you can read our cybersecurity internship overview here.
Stay tuned to our updates page for the latest IT/OT cybersecurity posts and more Intern Spotlights.