A Guide for Cybersecurity Internships

Whether you are pursuing undergraduate or graduate cybersecurity studies, cybersecurity internships can provide you with valuable experience in the field. Internships offer a great way to gain valuable experience necessary in order to land your first professional cybersecurity job.

Internships in cybersecurity are temporary and may be paid or unpaid. They are designed to give you experience in your field. The best place to begin your search for an internship is through your college’s career counseling services, as they have many contacts and can help you to network to find an internship in your field.

Why Pursue a Cybersecurity Internship?

Cybersecurity internships offer students many benefits that they cannot glean from merely sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture or reading textbooks. Internships provide students with real-world settings in which they can practice the skills and tools that they have learned in the classroom. There is no substitute for hands-on experience, as many studies have shown that learning in a practical, hands-on manner, means that what is learned is better understood and retained longer.

Having an internship in college leads to greater numbers of full-time job prospects and higher paying jobs after graduation, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2019 Internship & Co-op Survey Report. Additionally:

  • In 2019, more than half (56 percent) of those who interned during college were hired into a full-time, entry-level job at the same place in which they interned.
  • When making a choice between two equally qualified job applicants, employers note that they will choose the applicant with internship experience over the one without it.
  • Students who completed at least one internship received an average of 1.17 job offers upon graduation. Students who did not complete any internships received 0.98 job offers.
  • The job retention rate after one year for hires who have internship experience is higher (71.4 percent) than for those without internship experience (42.4 percent).
  • Those with internship experience tend to make salaries that are nine to 12 percent higher than those without internship experience.

Categories of Work Experience

Internships, Co-Ops and Externships

Internships and co-ops (also known as cooperative education positions) often have very different definitions, and these definitions may differ from one agency or business to another.  While the definitions below are general, make sure that you completely understand what is expected of you before accepting any internship or co-op:

  • An internship refers to a work assignment that lasts for one term with a single employer, often a summertime, one semester, or one school year. They may be full- or part-time, paid or unpaid.
  • A co-op often refers to a multi-work term assignment with a single employer. In many cases, work lasts for three terms, alternated with school terms, resulting in a degree program that lasts for five years rather than the traditional four. A co-op is usually a full-time, paid position.
  • An externship refers to a job shadowing position. In an externship, a student will shadow an experienced individual within the field. Externship time frames are often not as well-defined as internship or co-op time frames. They may last from a few days to a few months.

Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

When you are searching for a cybersecurity internship, you will find that there are paid and unpaid internships being offered.

Paid internships are becoming more common than unpaid internships. In addition to a monthly salary, paid internships may provide housing and travel reimbursements. Here are some more facts about paid internships:

  • A large percentage (44 percent) of the highest-paying internships in the U.S. in 2019 were at tech companies.
  • The average hourly wage for interns in 2019 was $19.05. For a co-op, the average hourly wage was $18.69.
  • The highest paying internships in tech companies in 2019 were:
    • Facebook: interns earned $8000/month
    • Amazon: interns made $7725/month
    • Salesforce: interns earned $7667/month
    • Google: interns earned $7500/month
    • Microsoft: interns earned $7250/month
  • Another incentive to some paid internships are signing bonuses if you get hired by the company after graduation. In 2019, employers offered interns an average of $2580 in signing bonuses, and co-op students were offered $3546 in signing bonuses.

Unpaid internships, unfortunately, still exist. They can be a great way to gain experience within your industry, but can be difficult to manage with the cost of living. Forty-three percent of internships are unpaid. Furthermore, paid internships are 34 percent more likely to lead to at least one job offer after graduation than unpaid internships. In 2019, 66 percent of graduates who completed paid internships got at least one job offer. Just over 43 percent of graduates who completed unpaid internships received job offers, however.

How to Find a Cybersecurity Internship

As mentioned earlier, the best way to find a cybersecurity internship is by utilizing your college’s career counseling center. Counselors within your institution should have many contacts and be able to help you to network with the best cybersecurity intern opportunities in your area. They can also tailor internship opportunities to your level of experience and skill, as well as help you to craft a resume and cover letter to use when applying.

If you are looking for cybersecurity internships on your own, there are many places you can look for opportunities. When searching, remember that internships are not often listed as internships and might instead be listed as temporary, part-time, or contract positions. Some examples of websites that can help you to find a cybersecurity internship include:

  • Internships.com: this site focuses solely on internships within specific areas. Use the proper keywords (“cyber intern,” “cybersecurity internship,” etc.) in your desired area to find what’s available.
  • Indeed.com: search for “cybersecurity internship” or “cyber intern” in your preferred location. Remember, companies that are not cyber-specific, such as insurance, manufacturing, and financial businesses, often offer cybersecurity internships.
  • LinkedIn.com: again, you can search for internships through this valuable portal using terms such as “internship,” “intern,” “cybersecurity internship,” “cyber intern.”
  • Google.com: yes, your old friend Google.com can even provide an impressive list of cybersecurity internships using the proper keywords and your desired location.

Types of Cybersecurity Internships

Cybersecurity internships are offered within a wide variety of settings, and not just in tech-based or cybersecurity companies. Think about where you ultimately want to work after graduation when searching for an internship and tailor your search to that area (i.e., financial institutions, computer forensics, penetration testing).

Cybersecurity Internships with the Government

Many well-respected, long-standing cybersecurity internships are available within the federal government. Most of these are continuously offered, unlike internships with private companies. Some of them include:

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Internship Program
    • Length and duration: 10 weeks, full-time
    • Paid or unpaid: Paid, approximately $5800 for 10 weeks of full-time work (salary is based on prior work experience, education and meeting DHS Cyber Component requirements)
    • Location: Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
    • Eligibility: You must:
      • Be a U.S. citizen
      • Have the ability to obtain/hold security clearance
      • Be enrolled in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program and major in one of the following: Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Software Engineering, Network Engineering, Information Assurance, Supply Chain, Information Technology, Systems Applications, Systems Research, Information Security, Information Systems, Software Assurance, or Business with a concentration in one of the above-mentioned areas
      • Have good, demonstrated oral and written communication skills
      • Possess and demonstrate project leadership ability
    • For more information: email the Student and Entry Level Programs in Cyber Coordinator at [email protected], with Cyber Internship in the subject line
  • National Security Agency Internships – a variety of internship programs exist at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including (but not limited to) the CAE-Cyber Operations Summer Intern Program, Cryptoanalysis and Signals Analysis Summer Program, Summer Program for Operations Research Technology
    • Length and duration: varies, usually a summer or school term (about 12 weeks) and usually full-time
    • Paid or unpaid: paid, competitive salary commensurate with education level, as well as housing assistance and travel reimbursement
    • Location: variety of locations nationwide
    • Eligibility: You must:
      • Be a U.S. citizen
      • Be eligible to obtain/hold security clearance
      • Be a college undergraduate or graduate (depending upon program)
      • Have a related major (usually Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Data Science, Physics, Information Systems, Telecommunications Political Science apply)
    • For more information: For most of these programs, you must apply nine months in advance. That means an application for a summer program is due by Oct. 31. Check out the student programs page at NSA for more information.
  • National Security Agency Cooperative Education Programs
    • Length and duration: rotating work stations, a semester working full-time at NSA then a semester at school. At the conclusion of the program, you are expected to have 52 weeks of co-op work experience by graduation.
    • Paid or unpaid: competitive pay based on education, plus housing assistance, travel reimbursement, and most government benefits full-time employees receive
    • Location: NSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
    • Eligibility:
      • Be a U.S. citizen
      • Have the ability to obtain/hold security clearance
      • Be an undergraduate (second semester freshman or sophomore) with a 3.0 GPA
      • Have a major in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Cybersecurity or Foreign Language (Russian, Korean, Farsi, Arabic or Chinese)
    • For more information: Applications are accepted through March 31. Apply online.
  • Central Intelligence Agency’s Undergraduate Internships and Cooperative Programs – a variety of programs exist for different positions, including analysts, clandestine, and STEM
    • Length and duration: full-time, interns usually work one semester and one summer or two summer terms; co-ops work alternating semesters/quarters for at least three semesters or four quarters total before graduation
    • Paid or unpaid: Paid, varies with experience and education, usually $21 to $26/hour, plus benefits
    • Location: Washington, D.C. offices of the CIA
    • Eligibility:
      • Be a U.S. citizen
      • Have the ability to obtain/hold security clearance
      • Be a full-time undergraduate student in one of the following majors: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Math, Information Systems
      • Have a 3.0 GPA
      • Have creative problem solving and critical thinking skills
      • Have excellent written and verbal communication skills
      • Have good interpersonal, organizational and planning skills
      • Be able to function in a fast-paced environment
      • Pass a medical and psychological exam
      • Pass a polygraph test
      • Pass a comprehensive background investigation
    • For more information: check out the variety of Student Opportunities available at the CIA
  • Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Cyber and IT Interns – for graduating high school students, undergraduate and graduate students
    • Length and duration: varies depending upon position
    • Paid or unpaid: competitive pay based upon education/experience, including leave, holidays and benefits
    • Location: varies, mainly Washington, D.C.
    • Eligibility:
      • Be a U.S. citizen
      • Have the ability to obtain/hold security clearance
      • Be a recent high school graduate, community college student, an undergraduate or graduate student
      • Major in Cybersecurity, Computer Science, Information Assurance, Information Technology Management, or similar field
    • For more information: Application periods occur each fall. Send questions to [email protected], and apply at USAJobs.com.

Cybersecurity Internships with Private Companies

Many private companies offer their own “branded” cybersecurity internships from time to time, and some offer them year after year. A few examples include:

  • Lockheed Martin Cyber Security Internship
    • Length/duration: varies, mainly summer (10-12 weeks), part- or full-time
    • Paid/unpaid: Paid
    • Location: varies, nationwide
    • Eligibility:
      • Must be a full-time undergraduate student, preferably with a major/interest in Cyber Security, Information Assurance and/or Software Engineering
      • Must have a technical background
      • Must be able to learn in a fast-paced environment
      • Must have strong verbal/written communication skills
      • Must work well as part of a team
    • For more information: Check LockheedMartinJobs.com for cyber security internship opportunities, as they are posted periodically
  • IBM Security Services Specialist Internship
    • Length/duration: usually summer or one school term, full-time
    • Paid/unpaid: paid
    • Location: varies, nationwide
    • Eligibility:
      • High school diploma/GED
      • Knowledge of TCP/IP networking and routing
      • Experience/understanding working with Linux
      • Scripting/programming experience
      • Understanding of general cybersecurity concepts
    • For more information: check Careers at IBM.com as new internship opportunities may be uploaded
  • AT&T Cybersecurity Internship
    • Length/duration: 10-12 weeks, summer/semester
    • Paid/unpaid: paid
    • Location: varies, nationwide
    • Eligibility:
      • Must be a current undergraduate or graduate student with a STEM major
      • Prefer rising seniors in cybersecurity major
      • Excellent interpersonal, oral, written communication skills
      • Ability to work in multi-disciplinary environments on cross-cultural teams
      • Be a curious lifelong learner interested in innovation
    • For more information: check out AT&T Careers page periodically for new internship opportunities to be uploaded


This article provides some insight into cybersecurity internships, telling you what types of internship experiences are available and offering some examples. Remember that there are many different types of opportunities for cybersecurity internships available in the public and private sectors, and what has been presented here is just a small sampling. Try not to become overwhelmed when you start searching for a cybersecurity internship. Apply for as many as you can, and weigh the pros and cons of each before accepting any offer. Any type of internship that you accept is sure to provide you with valuable experience that will benefit you during your career and teach you constructive life lessons.