This past summer, I worked as an intern for Secure Ideas. My role at the company was that of software developer, designing applications to streamline the more obvious side of the company. In a way, behind every great penetration tester was a summer intern who was just happy to help (and be paid for it, I suppose). For anyone else who is unfortunate enough to remember 2020 AD, you’ll recall that a certain pandemic forced most of the nation to remain home a good portion of the year. To be fair, software development was one of the least affected occupations of the pandemic, but it still made the job unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
Coming into this internship with little prior knowledge and an inability to physically interact with my coworkers had me a bit concerned. My first weeks consisted mostly of me trying to figure out what I was doing. The project I started on was so foreign to me that I sometimes felt like I would have been better suited to head the alien communications department (which is absolutely a real thing). Despite the seemingly endless amount of questions I had, I never had a single team member hesitate to help me out. I slowly made headway on my project until I finally produced code that could be pushed into production. I believe that the people who gave me this project fully expected the difficulties I would encounter, but they also expected it would be a great learning experience for me.
For my final project with the company, I explored the possibility of machine learning with website scanning. We wanted to see if we could teach a machine learning algorithm to categorize websites. Machine learning was not an overly familiar concept to me at the time, but they wanted me to explore it as it will be my intended focus at college. I think this really goes to show the genuine interest that Secure Ideas held in my development. With such a tight-knit community, they were able to recognize my preferences and find something enjoyable for me to work on. I researched potential uses for machine learning throughout the remainder of my internship, giving me a great foothold for when I return to classes.
In my previous internship, I frequently found myself outpacing my manager’s expectations. Projects that he would slate a couple weeks for me to finish would actually take closer to a couple days to complete. When I look back on this experience with a little more knowledge, my heart goes out to the person who must some day decipher my code. I did my best to plow through projects and came out with a lot under my belt, but I never gained such a personal experience with computer science as with Secure Ideas. The challenges I have faced on a daily basis at Secure Ideas have sometimes made me feel underwhelmed with the tangible work I have produced, but I am reassured by the sheer amount of knowledge I have gained in such a short amount of time.
With a smaller company such as Secure Ideas, you recognize how well every team member works together. I have had the opportunity to meet almost every member of the team and have been consistently impressed by their awesome personalities. The importance of employee happiness is obvious through events such as periodic Dungeons and Dragons and the clear respect for personal responsibilities. This was not at all what my college professors had taught me to expect from the “real world,” but I sincerely hope that it continues to feel at least somewhat like this. At this point it almost seems necessary to promise that I was not offered a bonus to write these words, but I can say with confidence that my experience with Secure Ideas has been one of the most enjoyable and educational times of my life.