I'm graduating with my bachelor's in computer science in December, and I'm looking to get an internship in a security consultant firm for the summer, or apply as an analyst/associate in October. I've got a pretty even spread of security topics from academics and independent study (including crypto algorithms, protocols, security tools [nmap, wireshark, etc...]), and lately I've been focusing a lot on IPv6 security and the IPv4-IPv6 switch. I also do quite a bit of reading about business and management, and I historically know my way around an office.

I guess I'm kind of asking an open-ended question to see:

  1. If my academic and independent study experiences will be any more than loosely relevant in the field
  2. Which skills in particular I should focus on that would really make me stand out as an applicant
  3. Do certifications mean anything for an 'untested' applicant (someone directly out of school)
  4. As a consultant, how much of what you do is nitty gritty hard network security (beyond pen testing) and how much of what you do is more risk and policy analysis/auditing (I understand this varies from company to company, but I'd like to get individual case feedback)

Any help you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  • Welcome to Security.SE, while I can't speak for everyone. I would request you please ask one question per SE-question, not a list seemingly unrelated questions within one SE-question. You'll get better answers, and it will be easier to answer them if you break them up into a number of questions.
    – blunders
    Feb 15, 2012 at 3:20
  • Hey blunders, sure thing. I'll definitely do that for my next post... would you like me to close this one and break it up into 4 smaller posts?
    – gfppaste
    Feb 15, 2012 at 3:31
  • It's your question, I break rules all the time on SE, but it has to be your choice, you have to understand why your doing it, and remember that in the end you have a lot of control over if you get good answers or not. I did attempt to answer the intent of the question, and attempt to avoid answering each question, since I still feel they're a number of question. Also, don't care if you delete the question and report the questions as a number of questions, just trying to help you get the best answers possible. Cheers!
    – blunders
    Feb 15, 2012 at 3:39

2 Answers 2


REF: your question "Do certifications mean anything for an 'untested' applicant (someone directly out of school)?"

There is one "certification" that is worth big dollars in the security field; namely if you are a US citizen who can pass a security clearance. There is a definite premium for this among government contractors and with the federal government itself.


My suggestion would be to keep it real -- and by this I mean look for real opportunities to intern or start at a zero-experience role, and see what they want. For example, here's a search on a job search engine for "computer security intern".

Beyond that this advice holds true beyond just finding a job interning, unless you want to become an expert in a topic and as a result create a market for it -- which for now is not worth thinking about.

Just get some real world experience and try understand how that experience will be leverage down the line. Meaning find an intern role, then take the skills required, and search on just those terms to see how many jobs there are for them, what those jobs require, and so on. Pretty soon you'll get a feel for what the market is for XYZ experience and expertise sets -- and how they relate to each other.

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