2nd Semester of College: Introduction to Security
My second semester of college was not too different from my first one–it’s amazing! Although, it was also the start of some issues.
Before diving too deep though, here’s a brief rundown of some stuffs:
- My initial group of friends from my first semester growed a lot during the second semester. I met even more amazing folks thanks to this!
- I’ve gotten used to course workloads and have caught up to most of my peers who started with prior experience in computer science.
With that out of the way, here’s some interesting stuff that happened to me during my second semester:
I got significantly involved with my university’s InfoSec club: SIGPwny. It all more or less started with me talking to the club’s head at the time (really amazing dude that really inspired me). I was basically asking him if he could point me to good resources for learning. Somehow, this ended with him offering me to do some work with a professor for research credit. It sounded like an amazing opportunity to learn, so I immediately accepted the offer.
As it turns out, I really like security, and all this snowballed into more and more involvement with the club. SIGPwny and the club’s head gave a huge amount of exposure into the security field, culture, and industry.
This involvement also resulted in me getting my first job. My professor from my introductory class hired me to do some penetration testing on the class infrastructures and also do some development on the side. This eventually led to yet another job during my first summer after entering college.
The club’s head also referred me for an internship at NCC Group, which brings us to:
Applying to NCC Group’s internship program was my first step into the industry world. I failed to get the internship–as indicated by “catastrophic”–but it was an amazing experience that taught me a lot about security and how to develop my career.
NCC Group’s internship selection process is the most educative selection process I’ve ever went through so far in my life. To summarize, here’s how it works:
- You apply to the program.
- They give you a free book for you to study penetration testing from the basics.
- Once you’re ready, they’ll deploy a vulnerable web application for you to demonstrate how much you’ve learned from the book.
- You write and send them a report containing all the vulnerabilities that you find.
- Some more steps that I don’t know of because I got rejected at this point.
This experience is probably the happiest I’ve ever been to “fail”, simply because of how much I get to learn during the whole process.
The process gave me a great hands-on experience in security and helped me familiarize my clueless freshman self on how to develop my career–how to interact with recruiters, emailing etiquette, etc.
The one thing that I failed to do in my second semester is working in moderation. It seems like I took my eagerness to learn more about computer science a little bit too far. I started getting more involved with so much stuff that I have less free time as my semester went by. It didn’t affect me too much during that time, but it definitely set a bad precedent for me (I ended up overworking myself on my third semester).
In the end, I still think that my second semester went great. I’m really happy that I managed to familiarize myself with the security field and the software industry.
Although I develop some habit of overworking which would eventually get worse, the habit never escalated too much so everything ended pretty great.