How to Get a Cybersecurity Internship: 2024 Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

An internship can serve as a critical step toward a career in cybersecurity.

[Featured image] A person in a green long-sleeve shirt sits alone at a long desk with multiple computer monitors for their cybersecurity internship.

As you begin your job search in cybersecurity, you might find that many job postings require previous experience, sometimes even for entry-level positions. One way to gain real-world security experience is to get a cybersecurity internship. 

In this article, you’ll learn what cybersecurity interns do and what internships are available. You’ll also better understand the benefits of seeking an internship and tips for making the most of your time as an intern. 

What does a cybersecurity intern do?

A cybersecurity internship is typically a temporary position at a company. As an intern, you’ll often gain experience with some of the basic administrative tasks of a cybersecurity analyst, often under the supervision of an experienced professional. The exact nature of the internship will vary depending on the company. Here are some tasks and responsibilities pulled from real cybersecurity internship listings on LinkedIn:

  • Testing web application security

  • Monitoring inbound security data

  • Responding to minor security events

  • Escalating events as needed

  • Assessing network security for vulnerabilities

  • Disassembling and debugging malicious software

  • Researching threats

  • Assisting with penetration testing

  • Developing scripts and automation

  • Helping to design and implement security solutions

In some internships, you may work with a security team, performing tasks as needed. In other internships, you may be assigned a specific security project to work on, either on your own or with other interns. Projects might include designing and building a security system for a specific purpose, auditing a system, planning and performing penetration testing, or conducting security awareness training.

Types of internships

Internships may also vary from company to company based on how they compensate you for your work. Let’s take a look at some common types of cybersecurity internships.

3 Types of Cybersecurity Internships

1. Paid internships: Working as an intern doesn't mean going without a paycheck for a prolonged period. The average pay for a cybersecurity intern in India is ₹21,022 per month.

2. For credit internships: Internships for academic credit can be paid or unpaid. Many students complete internships during the summer when classes are not in session.

3. Externship (job shadow): Externships are hands-on learning experiences where you work alongside someone in their job to see what they do. Job shadows help you understand a field you're interested in, give you a behind-the-scenes look at the work, and help you make connections. They are paid or unpaid, depending on the company.


Benefits of a cybersecurity internship

The benefits of a cybersecurity internship can extend beyond pay and college credit. Here are some other benefits you could gain from your internship.

Real work experience

One of the most valuable benefits of an internship is gaining experience for your resume. Many cybersecurity jobs require previous work experience; an internship is one way to gain that experience.

Cybersecurity skills

Experience can be the best teacher. Putting your cybersecurity knowledge to work in a real company setting can be an excellent way to accelerate your skill development. During an internship, you may work with various security software, including network security monitoring tools, packet sniffers, vulnerability scanners, firewalls, and antivirus software. Depending on the role, you may also hone your programming skills by writing scripts and automating tasks.

Working on a team—remotely or in person—also presents an opportunity to develop critical soft skills. Take this time to be a better communicator, problem solver, and critical thinker.

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Mentorship and networking

As an intern, you’ll likely meet and work with cybersecurity practitioners with different roles and backgrounds. You may also work cross-functionally with other teams at the company. These relationships can sometimes lead to new career opportunities in the future.

As an intern, you may also get paired with a manager or senior cybersecurity team member. This person can serve as your mentor during the internship and, in some cases, throughout the rest of your career.

Career exploration

An internship allows you to experience what working in cybersecurity is like before investing the time and effort into finding a job. Sometimes, an internship will grow your passion for the work. Sometimes, an internship shows you that cybersecurity isn’t what you expected and that your skills and talents might be a better fit in another field.

Job offers

While this is only sometimes the case, some internships can end in an offer for full employment with the company. Even if your internship does not end in a job offer, you can still approach your job search with a letter of recommendation from your internship manager or mentor.

Where can I find an internship?

You may wonder where to find an internship, especially if you’re not a student with access to a career services office. In this section, we’ll look closer at sources of government and non-government internships to accelerate your search.

Government cybersecurity internships

One of the best places to find an internship in information security is through a government organisation. Governments typically have robust cybersecurity programmes, and many government internships run at regular intervals. Here are some government-sponsored internship programmes in India:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau: This full-time internship lasts 15 days to two months. It is open to students studying for a postgraduate degree in law, which can be applied for through their university. 

  • Gurugram Police Cybersecurity Summer Internship: This one-month summer internship is open for direct application to anyone studying cybersecurity who wants to join the police force.

  • National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) Work-Based Learning: This internship is designed for women to gain technical skills in emerging technology. It is a six-month internship for certain technical degree disciplines.  

Non-government cybersecurity internships

Many companies and organisations also offer internships for aspiring cybersecurity professionals. You can typically find these opportunities by searching "cybersecurity internship" or "cybersecurity intern" on LinkedIn, Indeed, and Naukri job boards. 

These companies regularly hire cybersecurity interns:

Common internship requirements

An internship can be a good step toward a career in cybersecurity as they’re often designed for students or career switchers without prior job experience. Specific requirements will vary from company to company, but here are a few you might see:

  • Student status: Some internships require that you be a student in an accredited institution.

  • Citizenship: You may need to be an Indian national to get a security internship with an Indian government agency.

  • Security clearance: Due to the sensitive nature of the work, you may be required to attain a certain level of security clearance.

Like a job, you can expect to apply for an internship by completing an application and submitting your resume and cover letter. You may also have to complete one or more interviews as part of the application process.

Since you may not have work experience directly related to cybersecurity, your resume should highlight any relevant coursework, information technology (IT) experience, and transferable skills (like programming, leadership, or technical writing). 

You can also demonstrate your interest in cybersecurity by participating in cybersecurity contests or bug bounty programmes. These events, hosted by various organisations and software developers, offer recognition and sometimes compensation to individuals who find and report bugs in code or vulnerabilities. Include these on your resume, even if you don’t win.

Tips for cybersecurity internships

If you’re considering a cybersecurity internship, here are some tips for finding one that fits your needs and making the most of the opportunity.

  • Apply for more than one internship. Some programmes can be competitive, so giving yourself options is a good idea.

  • Be eager to learn, but remember you’re also there to work. Ask lots of questions.

  • Build relationships with the people you meet. If someone at the company is working on a project that interests you, ask if you can have lunch to discuss it.

  • Document your work. Keep track of the projects you work on and the security software you work with so you can include them in your resume. If possible, find ways to measure your impact with metrics.

  • Remember to ask for a letter of recommendation when your internship ends. Your manager can write a stronger letter when your work is fresh in their memory rather than a few weeks or months later when you’re applying for jobs.

Get started in cybersecurity

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Article sources

  1. Indeed. "Intern Salary in India," Accessed June 20, 2024.

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