For the past few weeks, the UK Cyber Security Council has welcomed Comfort Ilozobhie as our valued intern. She secured an internship through the 10,000 Black Interns programme and we asked her to summarise her experience.
The question “What are you doing with your summer” carries a different type of weight in my second year of university than my first.
When asked in my first my answer was catching up with old friends, travelling and spending lots of time with my family. When I was asked this question at the beginning of my second year (9 months before summer started) I knew what they were really asking:
“What internships or work experiences are you applying for, or which ones have you already gotten”.
This just was another added stress unto an already stressful year of trying to pass my modules, choosing a dissertation title and balancing work and a social life.
By the beginning of October, it seemed that all my classmates had fully planned their summer and had been accepted to internships.
When looking for internships I had certain requirements that I felt had to be met. Specifically, I wanted an internship where I would get involved in the company and was not just tasked with admin tasks. I wanted an internship outside of my degree (Politics and International Relations) as I was not sure on the career path I wanted to take after I had graduated and so I wanted to explore multiple options. Obviously having a paid internship whilst being a student in London was ideal but was not a specific requirement.
10,000 Black Interns
It was a around mid-October when a good friend referred me to 10,000 Black Interns. She had in the previous summer applied through them and received a 6-week paid internship. 10,000 Black Interns goal is to 'Create opportunities for underrepresented talent in partnership with multinational corporations, professional firms, ambitious startups and public bodies'.
It wasn’t really much of a decision, I thought it was a great opportunity and amazing cause, so I sent an application by late October. I was given the opportunity to apply to three different sectors out of 25. The three that I chose were Not-For-Profit, Public & Policy Sector and Media. Each sector had a couple of bullet points on what is type of skills I needed for the role, and I was asked to write a short essay on how I brought this to the table in addition to my CV.
By November I was told that my application had been sent out to multiple organisations and that I would be hearing back from companies at the beginning of January. The stress of not having to send out my application to multiple organisations was gone and I could spend the remaining time focusing on my studies.
Early January I received word from the UK Cyber Security Council and was given an interview for the end of the month. I spent the next couple of weeks researching the role of the Council and their work in standardising the cybersecurity sector.
I had my interview on the 30th of January with the head of HR, CEO, Executive Assistant to the CEO and Programme Officer. The interview went really smoothly, and I was asked about my past experience, my hobbies and ways I had demonstrated my soft skills in my everyday life. Two days later I was informed that I had gotten the position as an Intern.
I officially began my internship on the 26th of May. I spent the first week being inducted into the company and meeting every team member. I also had the opportunity to meet with the CEO Professor Simon Hepburn in my first week. This is not something that I would have had the opportunity to do in other organisations and definitely made me feel much more comfortable and integrated in the Council.
Working in a team
In my second week I got the chance to attend a few events such as the T Level Workshop that was hosted by the Council in conjunction with the Department of Education, the CMI Women: Our Inclusive Future event and CrestCon held in London. These events allowed me to interact with others and see in real time the work the Council produces. I was then given a task to write an event report allowing me to demonstrate my observation and writing skills.
In my third week I was working with the Careers and Qualifications team (Lisa and Sonja). I was tasked with a research task that will help the team in future projects and was also able to sit in a meeting between the Professional Standards Team and the Careers and Qualifications Team. Later on I was also able to present some of the work I was doing to Simon the CEO and Vicky the EA CEO. This is an opportunity I would not have had elsewhere; to present my work to such high positions in an organisation as an Intern and it has allowed me to develop not only my public speaking and presentation skills, but also creativity skills.
In my fourth week I was placed to work in the Marketing and Communications Department with Helen. I was given the freedom to write about any topic that interests me in cyber security and have chosen to write it on the role of Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity. The Councils close relationship with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology also gave me the opportunity to sit and chat with a member of the team who had gone through a similar route of studying a humanities/social science degree but now works in cyber. The advice I got from this meeting was invaluable and will definitely stay with me for the rest of my career.
Working with the UK Cyber Security Council has been fun and engaging. Every single team member I have met has been ready to help me at any point and are always finding ways for me to gain more experience to bolster my CV. Working in different departments has allowed me to experience different roles and has empathised the importance of every single role. With only two weeks left of my time with the Council it has been an insightful learning experience and something I will never forget as I go forward in my career.