Name: David Gabay
Hometown: Plantation, Florida
What is your major? Computer engineering with a focus on cybersecurity
Where did you intern? What did you do there? I was a cybersecurity intern for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Washington, D.C.
How did you get your internship? I searched through USAJOBS, the federal government’s official employment site, and applied from there. After a few months, I received confirmation that I had been accepted into the internship program.
What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? If you are looking for federal government positions, there is no better place to look than on USAJOBS. Your first internship will be kind of weird. You’ll feel out of your comfort zone. But try hard and do your best. Pay attention to your surroundings and learn from other interns on how they work and collaborate with each other. By the time you get to your second internship, you will be a pro and you should pass on the knowledge to your cohort.
What projects did you work on? I reviewed and discussed key projects and mission-critical applications/systems with DHS senior leadership and supported the mission of DHS, “to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values” by participating in planning sessions with DHS leadership for future projects and applications. In addition, I contributed to the modernization of IT for DHS and reviewed policies and procedures to ensure alignment with federal and department-wide goals.
How did your internship connect back to your coursework? The internship was directly in line with my coursework—from technical writing skills to working on cybersecurity topics discussed in my courses. At FIU, I am supported by the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and co-sponsored by DHS. The program is led by professors Selcuk Uluagac, Kemal Akkaya and Alexander Perez-Pons who've been instrumental in helping students like myself conduct research in cybersecurity and obtain internships as part of the program requirements.
What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship? The coolest thing was a visit the White House. I got to shadow the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for The United States Secret Service (USSS)!
What did you like most about your experience? I was put in a position to work on the mission of DHS and to make a meaningful impact.
What did you learn about yourself? Being around professionals I came to learn about some of the skills, like problem-solving and attention to detail in reviewing policies and procedures, that are important in my field of study. Reflecting upon some of these skills has given me the opportunity to focus on building my own skills to make me better prepared for the workforce.
How did the position increase your professional confidence? After this internship, I feel like I can go into any position and have the confidence to learn what needs to be done.
How did you expand your professional network? LinkedIn is the most helpful with building your professional network. While at the internship, it is important to speak to as many people as possible and learn about their experiences, and of course, add them on LinkedIn to stay in contact.
How did it help you prove yourself in the “real-world?” I was able to work on real projects, with the trust and guidance of my supervisors, that fulltime employees also were working on.