While some summer internships devolve to interns fetching coffee, Telos Corporation looks to prepare interns for a future in cybersecurity and business. The Ashburn-based cybersecurity giant strives to inspire innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship through its paid 10 week cybersecurity internship program.
“By having them work in teams on a project which I turned into a competition, it made it a lot easier to maintain focus over the summer,” Richard Robinson, the company’s Director of Innovation and Chief Technology Officer said.
Telos’ internship program is similar to a program at MIT where students learn how to implement new technologies, Robinson continued. Over the years, Telos has also shifted to include piloting and prototyping new technologies in the internship program. At the end of the 10 weeks, each team presents their technology.
When the internship program began three years ago, Telos primarily recruited through Loudoun County Public Schools, but now interns are a mix of high school and college students. This year’s group came from Stanford, MIT, UVA, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Providence College and Georgia Tech, as well as local high schools, community colleges and the military.
Telos is even looking into expanding the program with George Washington University to make it into a capstone for its students.
Telos also takes part in outreach programs for computer science and robotics in Loudoun’s public schools, as well as STEM outreach programs such as one for girls in technology. Cybersecurity is a booming industry where some studies show there is a shortage of workers. Robinson, however, disputes the claims of a shortage. He believes the shortage is in businesses and corporations not understanding what cybersecurity means. Many companies have employees who have the necessary skill set but are not being fully utilized.
Robinson thinks it’s important to focus education early.
“We believe strongly that we have to focus a lot of efforts early on workforce development, that’s part of the reason why our CEO has made this investment so the summer internships are paid internships which are, to some degree, an oddity,” Robinson said.
“But we’re also doing a lot when we’re bringing these folks on in training and educating them on cyber, cybersecurity, business, innovation and entrepreneurship, because the sooner we expose them to that, the higher their probability of academic success and that they come back and create new and innovative, prosperous businesses,” he added.