No limits: Freedom and flexibility mark CSE student’s cybersecurity internship experience

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Student Spotlight on Matt Levy '20 Cybersecurity Intern Lehigh University

While comparing notes on senior level cybersecurity course curriculum with a friend at another school, Lehigh student Matt Levy ‘20 made a surprising discovery. While his friend was studying concepts in theory, Levy was already putting them into practice in his work as a security intern for Library and Technology Services (LTS).

The opportunities for real-world learning were limitless for Levy, a Computer Science and Engineering student working under the direction of senior information security analyst Jim Vincent.

“One of the hallmarks of an Information Security Internship is exposing students early on to an environment that not many student interns will see while still in school,” Vincent said. “Our interns are integrated directly into the fabric of LTS. They regularly interact with subject matter experts at Lehigh and are exposed to daily challenges within our production environment.”

Digging in

Over the course of his two-year internship, Levy found himself knee-deep in hands-on work, ranging from configuring networking devices and managing multiple servers, to conducting forensic investigations, programming scripts, tools, and web applications, and analyzing log files for malevolency, the latter of which he says might not sound interesting to most, but “it’s something that very few people know how to do and it’s an invaluable skill,” he said.

“When I worked with Jim, he gave me a lot of flexibility and opportunities to learn different things, and to work on the projects that interested me,” Levy said. “This is rare, in my opinion, for a part-time job to give you this much flexibility.”

“At one point I wanted to learn more about Cisco, so Jim let me borrow a few routers and to set up a small network over the course of a few weeks.” If I showed interest in other aspects of cyber, I have no doubt that Jim would have found a way to give me the opportunity to improve myself, he said.

A collaborative connection

Levy says part of the real-world experience was having the opportunity to work alongside and collaborate with LTS systems analysts and professional staff, as well as interact with others at all levels of the Lehigh community, contacting employees or students directly to alert them of risks or problems associated with their devices. “This alone has helped me improve my soft skills.” Levy said.

Vincent noted Levy brought not only impressive programming skills to the table, but also an ability to think and act independently. “Matt took responsibility for tasks assigned to him and he needed little oversight, he said. Toward the end of his internship, Matt’s leadership skills began to flourish, and he was able to delegate sub-tasks on projects to other interns in order to bring them to completion.”

In addition to applying knowledge gained in the classroom, Levy’s internship experience yielded other benefits that made it possible for him to get a jump start on his career development. With partial financial support from LTS, Levy completed his Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) Certification, required for many top cybersecurity positions. “This certification alone has helped me get a ton of interviews, as many people fresh out of college do not have it, allowing me to differentiate myself,” he said.

Securing a future

Levy credits his internship with opening doors for him as he prepared for life after graduation. He calls it the best opportunity he had at Lehigh, and the biggest reason he was able to get the job offers that he did. He recently landed a research position with Maryland-based MITRE, a non-profit cybersecurity organization that works to strengthen the nation’s cyber defense.

As he reflects on his experience, Levy says his advice to other students thinking about interning with the Information Security team is “You get what you give. If you put in the effort to learn new things and want to do something in the cyber realm after college, this is definitely the best opportunity that you can take at Lehigh.”

LTS offers students a wide variety of job opportunities in areas such as Library Services, Special Collections, Information Security, LTS Help Desk and Computing Consulting and Computer Repair, Digital Production and Graphic Design. Visit the LTS Student Employment Opportunities website for more information.