Industry Trends

Fortinet Internship Program Helps Prepare the Cyber Workforce of the Future

By Sandra Wheatley | July 28, 2022

National Intern Day falls on the last Thursday of July every year, with the purpose of recognizing and celebrating interns and the impactful work they do. Interns are incredibly important; they are the future leaders and workforce. In cybersecurity, those participating in internships play an additional important role: helping to narrow the industry’s skills gap.

Fortinet is actively working to close the growing skills gap in cybersecurity through the Fortinet Training Institute and Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) initiatives, which provides training and learning opportunities to a wide range of populations, including students. As part of this important work, Fortinet’s internship program provides students and recent graduates the opportunity to work at Fortinet for several weeks. Interns gain hands-on experience while being exposed to opportunities in the dynamic and fast-growing cybersecurity industry with the goal of preparing them for the cyber workforce of the future.

We recently spoke with four Fortinet interns – Kanishka Verma, George Lu, Nicole Wang, and Leslie Zhou – to learn more about the work they do, the knowledge they’ve gained, and what they’ve taken away from their internships with Fortinet.

Can you tell us what role you play on your team?

Kanishka: I started my internship in May 2022, and I am currently a Web Developer Intern on the FortiOS development team.

George: I'm interning with the Financial Planning & Analysis team, and I learn about sales and foreign currency reporting and forecasting.

Nicole: I work at Fortinet as a Software Development Quality Assurance Intern.

Leslie: I am an Application Security Engineer Intern at Fortinet.

What motivated you to pursue an internship in the cybersecurity field?

Kanishka: I pursued Fortinet because it was a web development internship. However, ever since starting work here, I have realized how much work it is to keep our computers safe, and I have a newfound appreciation for cybersecurity.

George: I was intrigued and interested in learning more about cybersecurity. As a consumer, I've always had my cybersecurity solutions built in. But I wasn’t familiar with network firewalls for example and how they work and thought it’d be interesting to learn more about Fortinet’s technology.

Nicole: I have been interested in cybersecurity since high school. I attended a program that introduced me to the fundamentals of cybersecurity which made me want to learn more about the field.

Leslie: When I finished my undergraduate degree, I didn't feel like development was right for me, so I picked up cybersecurity in grad school. I’ve had a lot more fun doing cybersecurity than development, so I started applying for internships in the cybersecurity field when I was looking for a summer internship.

Has your time at Fortinet inspired you to pursue a career in cyber?

Kanishka: The work I do at my day-to-day job is web development rather than cybersecurity. However, I am definitely going to apply at Fortinet after I graduate to pursue a full-time position because I found the industry very interesting and it is important work.

George: I found the technology Fortinet develops very fascinating and it has made me understand cybersecurity better and the importance of it.

Nicole: My time in Fortinet has taught me more about cybersecurity and networking. This field has so much more knowledge to be learned and discovered. I’m much more interested to pursue a career in cyber – this experience is an amazing starting step.

Leslie: Yes, my time at Fortinet further confirmed that I would like to do something in cybersecurity. Helping development teams secure their applications is a very good feeling. I have a lot of fun doing it.

Are there any barriers you feel you’ve had to overcome to join the cybersecurity world? Can you tell us about them?

Kanishka: There are a lot of networking terms that were quite intimidating when I started my internship. Even now, sometimes I am not sure of some of the cybersecurity vocabulary. However, everyone at Fortinet has been super supportive and helpful. I feel comfortable asking questions to my supervisors. I still have a lot to learn but I am getting there with the hands-on experience I’ve gained through this internship.

George: Fortinet's offerings all seemed foreign to me since they were all new. The biggest barrier was understanding who the customers were that utilize our products, which isn't the everyday consumers I knew.

Nicole: In my opinion, one of the barriers was not knowing where and how to start. The cybersecurity world is so broad but it’s been valuable to get to know the industry firsthand and gain experience.

Leslie: There was a lot of new information to learn, but not any barriers I can think of.

What is your most important takeaway from your internship at Fortinet?

Kanishka: My most important takeaway is how fast the tech industry moves, especially cybersecurity.

George: So far, the experience of hybrid work has enabled me to maximize my time spent working. I've found that I'm also a useful asset in combining technical capabilities into our team's tasks.

Nicole: The most important takeaway is I now understand the process of how web apps are produced and polished from backend to frontend. I also learned about the platforms people use and how code is reviewed to enhance customer experiences.

Leslie: We need to treat every application as its own realm and validate every data fetched from the outside, whether it's from internal or third-party APIs.

What is your favorite part about working at Fortinet?

Kanishka: My favorite part about working at Fortinet is definitely the cool office and the free lunches which are provided in the office.

George: Helping my team. I feel that I'm able to make a meaningful impact on the workload of the team I am a part of, and that makes me feel useful since everyone is teaching me things.

Nicole: A lot of friendly and helpful people! We share a lot of laughs together during office time which always makes my learning and working experience very enjoyable.

Leslie: Ice cream. But on a serious note, I really enjoyed the hybrid model where we come to the office on some days and collaborate in person because cybersecurity is a team sport.

Find out more about how Fortinet's Training Advancement Agenda (TAA) and Training Institute programs—including the NSE Certification program, Academic Partner program, and Education Outreach program—are helping to solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.