A MITRE Cybersecurity Engineer Helps Interns Explore the Field

September 2016
Gabby Raymond
Gabby Raymond sitting at her desk.

Cyber interns at MITRE gain experience through hands-on learning and exploring multiple aspects of the cybersecurity field. This doesn't just happen on its own. Events and information sessions for the cyber interns require planning. Making sure they're working on projects that interest them takes extra effort. That's where cybersecurity engineer Gabby Raymond comes in.

This summer, Raymond organized many opportunities for cyber interns to meet other interns and full-time employees, as well as to learn about the many aspects of cybersecurity. She's located at MITRE's Bedford, Mass., campus, where she supports the Center for National Security, one of the seven FFRDCs that MITRE operates

"Our goal is to give MITRE interns ample opportunities to talk with professionals in the field and explore multiple areas within cybersecurity," Raymond says. "They can be interns already studying cybersecurity or students from other parts of the company who may not have been exposed to it yet. We want to encourage cybersecurity talent."

She coordinated project talks with MITRE employees, scheduled researchers to come in and discuss their experience in the field, and planned an overnight "hackathon" event.

"It was actually an intern's idea last year," she says. "It was so well received that we had another in August. Hackathons are an excellent learning experience to show how programming relates to cybersecurity." And a fun one, too.

Leading, Mentoring, and Working with Students

Raymond began working with interns several years ago. She started out looking for ways to help the students in her department, which developed into helping them in her division, which then led to her overall role in assisting all Bedford cyber interns and planning events for them.

She isn't just an event organizer, though. Raymond also works on several projects with cyber interns and acts as a mentor for them throughout their time at MITRE. "I have three interns on a project I lead myself, and then there is another group I work with on a separate project. They each work on a smaller piece of a bigger initiative, so there is a challenge there of making sure each piece fits together."

This can be quite different from assignments in a traditional academic setting. "In college, homework assignments are often a one-time focus before moving onto the next subject. When you're doing work on a small part of a big project, you have to understand the context your piece fits into.

"It's more than just your work, more than just one person. So, this environment encourages collaboration."

Internships Benefit Students and MITRE

Last year, Raymond's department had three interns in Bedford. This year, it had seven. One of the challenges that presents is ensuring all interns have work that makes them feel like part of the team, even though they're only at MITRE for a few months.

"We wanted our cyber interns to feel like they're significantly contributing toward the goal of the project. Their work should have an impact, and it should be interesting. It's definitely a fast-paced timeline to keep up with."

Internships are a huge advantage for students looking to gain more knowledge and experience before they enter the workforce after graduation. They can also help students narrow down their field of interest. However, the benefits go both ways between the cyber interns and the teams they work with.

"I really appreciate the fresh perspective that interns come in with," Raymond says. "I think the biggest benefit to MITRE is having these groups of interns come in who, even though they're only here for the summer, want to make a difference and aren't afraid to speak up and share their insights."

—by Emily Ready

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