My co-op experience this summer was all that I could hope for and then some. I was fortunate to spread the summer in Herndon, VA working with the Managed Security Services team of Symantec.
During the RIT Spring 2014 Career Fair I was looking around and walked over to Symantec, a company that I was familiar with but that I didn't include in my pre-career fair research and prep work. I started talking with one of the representatives and after reviewing my resume he asked me to return the following day for an interview. The next day I was very excited as I studied up on Symantec and brushed up on as many computing security topics that I could. The interview lasted about 20 minutes or so and focused mostly on professional and technical questions. I was able to correctly most of them but some I was unsure of. The interviewers understood that I was a student and hadn't taken some classes yet so I was in a position to respond to some of their prompts. I thanked the interviewers for their time and walked out confident in my performance but unsure of where I stacked up among the other candidates.
About twenty minutes after the interview I received a call from my interviewer extending me a job offer. I thanked him very much and said that I would be interested but I would need to review the offer letter before I could say yes or no. Within a few days I received my offer letter and after reading it and having my Career Services Program Coordinator review it with me I sent in word that I would accept the job. After I accepted the job I was in regular correspondence with a representative from Human Resources who guided me through the hiring process. The prospect of moving to Virginia was exciting to me and I was happy to learn that I would be given money for relocation. After finalizing my work documentation I had to wait for summer and continue to focus on my classes.
A few weeks before moving I started to look for an apartment in the area near work online and got in touch with my assigned work buddy. I was able to ask my work buddy questions that I didn't exactly want to ask my boss such as what the dress code was and what area eateries he recommended. The week before my start date I packed up the car and drove down to my new apartment. I drove by my office the day before and settled into my new apartment. During my first day I received orientation and was introduced to the people I'd be working with for the summer. Prior to the end of the day my accounts, badges, and computers were set up and I was ready to get to work.
The projects that I was working on were accessible but challenging at the same time. Some of the tasks and areas were outside of the scope of my knowledge but I was able to pick most of it up fairly quickly. I was able to take on some additional personal projects that I thought could help out the team. One such example is the Pastebin Searcher that I previously wrote about. I was also involved in an effort to research and classify various cyber threat groups that our clients could encounter. I was very excited to be able to present my team's work to the VP of Operations and his staff and even more thrilled to learn that my first report had been given to a client and that they had found it useful.
One of the favorite parts of the summer was living so close to DC and being able to drive into the city so easily. Thursdays when I was free (and the weather and traffic weren't too bad) I'd head into the district and meet up with friends or just walk the National Mall by myself. Being in my favorite city so frequently gave me the time to explore the common tourist locations many times with different guests and also let me get to experience life beyond the typical sights.
In July I was made aware of a scholarship that would cover the cost to attend the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. I applied and won the scholarship and upon getting the go-ahead to attend by my manager I was also told that the company would pay for a DEF CON badge on my behalf as a handful of employees would be attending. Attending the conferences and being in the same room as some of the most intelligent and talented individuals in the computing security field was a humbling experience. Even though the talk I was most looking forward to was cancelled I still was able to learn a lot and get a clearer understanding of trends in the field.
Just like that my 10 week internship was over and I found myself packing up my belongings, cleaning up my apartment, and heading back to Rochester, NY for school. The internship served to validate my career pick and reassured me that I was going in the right direction. Symantec was very kind to me and I was extremely fortunate to be working with the team that I was on. All-and-all I was very happy with the experience and had a great summer both professionally and personally.