Internship, Co-op or Research Site: Avalara Inc.
Position Title:Security Engineer
Current Class Level:Doctoral Student
Work Term:Spring 2021
Tell us about your internship, co-op, or research opportunity, including your day-to-day responsibilities.
I work in the Application Security team. My responsibilities includes the following:
* Rolling out of Dynamic Application Scanning Tool for scanning of applications for vulnerabilities across the company globally.
• Penetration testing of applications
• DAST scanning of web application
• SAST Scanning of application
• CI/CD pipeline integration
• Threat Modeling / Threat Profiling of applications
• Writing of Security standards
• Integrating security tools in CI/CD pipeline
• Secure Architecture review of applications
Describe the process of obtaining your position. When did you hear of the position and submit your application?
I was encouraged to apply for the internship by my Advisor Dr. Zhiyuan Chen. He kept asking me of my process in the internship search. Because of his follow-up, I took the internship search seriously and applied on Indeed and LinkedIn. I saw this opening on LinkedIn last year for a summer internship and part of the requirements were having AWS certification and Security plus certification, which I already have. I applied and was called for an interview. I had three rounds of interviews and was given the internship position last summer. After the summer internship, my manager was pleased with my work and wanted me to stay back. I also wanted to continue my work with them, so I was given a part-time CO-OP opportunity for Fall 2020. At the end of Fall 2020, they tried to have me as a full-time staff, so I was given a full-time offer which I am doing right now with a Co-op for Spring 2021. I will be transiting into OPT this summer while the company will get me an H1b Work Visa.
What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization?
I have learned so much working in this organization. My research area is in Cyber Security, and I have taken a couple of security courses here at UMBC. I have also had the opportunity to work with the UMBC Cyberdefense club. My research, classes, club meetings came with so much theoretical knowledge, but working in this role allowed me to apply classroom and research knowledge on real-world problems. It has been fun, and I am glad I am doing this. I am working remotely and yet still able to connect fully with my team. I am learning a lot from other members of the group as well. I am passionate about cybersecurity, and I think working here is a dream come through.
How do you believe you have made an impact through your work?
I have made a significant impact on the organization through my work. I rolled out a DAST tool across the company globally, and many engineers are using these tools. I have written security standards that their engineers are currently using to develop secure software. My manager personally attested that I have made a significant impact in the organization and mentioned he would like to get more students from UMBC in the future. And finally, I believe bringing me in as a full-time staff shows how impactful my work has been.
What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?
My advice for other students seeking similar experiences will be don’t give up. I almost gave up because of all the numerous rejections I got while applying for an internship. At some point, I thought maybe I wasn’t good enough. I was at the moment thinking of changing my interest from cybersecurity to data science. But I am glad I didn’t give up then. Now, I have an opportunity with an organization that appreciates my work, and I am happy with the impact I am making here. Finally, when you get that internship opportunity, give your all to it. Do it as if you are full-time staff. Ensure you are not just there for the paycheck, make sure you leave your signature behind with your work. These will accelerate your learnings and skills and eventually make room for you in that organization or somewhere else.
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