For cybersecurity students who are attending or have just completed college and graduate school, the Department of Homeland Security has launched its first cybersecurity internship programs, aimed at hiring qualified IT security professionals.
"We are looking to build a cybersecurity workforce from the ground up, rather than hire those already trained," says Nicole Dean, Deputy Director of the National Cyber Security Division at DHS. "We are looking to hire the best and the brightest and provide them the opportunity to grow professionally."
Three Programs Available
DHS internship programs are defined across three levels:
- Cybersecurity Internship Program - Designed for current undergraduate students during the summer between their junior and senior years in college. The 10-week summer internship will provide students with the opportunity to work with experts in cybersecurity, focusing on mission areas such as identification and analysis of malicious code, forensics analysis, incident response, intrusion detection and prevention, and software assurance. At the end of the internship, based on their performance, students will have the opportunity to qualify for the Secretary's Honors Program for Cybersecurity Professionals.
- Salary: Approximately $5,800 for the 10-week, full-time, internship.
- Secretary's Honors Program for Cybersecurity Professionals - A two-year program for recent college graduates designed to develop technically skilled cyber professionals across the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These students will be trained in hands-on cybersecurity related issues and incidents in a fast-paced, growing environment. Through rotational assignments, the participants will gain exposure on the interconnectivity and coordination efforts of DHS with other stakeholders both within the private and public sector.
- Salary: First year, $51,630.; second year: $62,467, depending on satisfactory performance.
- Emerging Leaders in Cybersecurity Fellowship – A two-year program for recent graduates with a master's degree and is designed to develop the next generation of cyber leaders within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These students will receive leadership training and work with experts in cybersecurity focusing on mission areas such as identification and analysis of malicious code, forensics analysis, incident handling, intrusion detection and prevention, and software assurance. These students will have the opportunity, through rotational assignments, to see how each component collaborates on cyber-related issues and work first-hand on critical issues and incidents.
- Salary: First year: $62,467; second year: $74,872, depending on satisfactory performance.
Key take-aways for students include the opportunity to grow professionally and get hands-on training during the internship programs, as well as to understand how broad and rapidly growing the cybersecurity field is.
"It is an opportunity to plan for the future, learn the cutting-edge technologies used in government, and develop a career in combating cyber terrorism," says Keri Nusbaum, Director of Recruitment and Development at DHS.
In addition, students through rotational assignments will get deeper insight into the functioning and coordination efforts that DHS has, with Department of Defense and the intelligence community, as well as the private sector.
"They will get first-hand exposure on how cyber issues are connected and managed at such a large scale," Nusbaum says.
The students will be hired from all top U.S. schools that are recognized as accredited universities. They do not have to attend a center of academic excellence designated by the National Security Agency and DHS.
Students must meet these requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen;
- Be able to obtain and hold a security clearance;
- Have been or be enrolled in a bachelor's/master's degree in a related field like information security, computer science, electrical engineering, network engineering, software development/engineering, systems applications, information systems, or business with a specific concentration in one of the above; or have 30 semester hours in a combination of mathematics, statistics, and computer science;
- Demonstrate oral and written communication skills;
- Demonstrate project leadership ability and creativity;
- Be open to travel requirements.
This year is the first for the internship programs, and interest has been strong, says Dean. However, DHS is starting small in an effort to refine the program first, and is currently looking to hire only eight graduate students this summer for the Emerging Leaders in Cybersecurity Fellowship program. Also, DHS has jump-started the Cybersecurity Internship program by selecting current students to participate in a 10-week summer internship. These individuals, depending on performance, will be eligible to participate in the Secretary's Honors Program upon graduation.
"We expect to grow the program at all levels five-fold over the next three years," Dean says.
Prospective candidates should visit the DHS website for instructions on how to apply and get more information on application deadlines. DHS has begun recruiting for summer 2012.