With summer around the corner, many Fowler School of Engineering (FSE) students have started looking into internship opportunities. Some students have scheduled appointments with FSE’s Career Specialist, Samuel Lee, while others have been browsing the Slack channels, Linkedin, and other job-posting websites. One of our most recent and newly-appointed interns include Viola Kalinin.

Kalinin is currently a Cyber Security intern at Patriot Consulting. She is a Computer Science major with a minor in Information, Security, and Policy, and plans to graduate this Spring. Prior to her experience with Patriot, Kalinin was a Research Assistant for Chapman’s Machine Learning and Affiliated Technology (MLAT) Labs.

“I did Machine Learning-related things in the past, so I wanted to see how that intersected with cyber security,” she said.

When searching for an internship opportunity, Kalinin met with Lee and discussed her resume. He saw cyber security as one of her interests, which prompted him to contact Joe Stocker, the CEO of Patriot. 

“I gave Viola a walkthrough on how she should conduct herself in reaching out to [Joe], such as being professional, not sending a long or lengthy message, and making sure she mentions how I referred her over,” Lee said.

Kalinin connected with Stocker on LinkedIn. She said, “he did a demo of what they did at Patriot, which was interesting to me. I asked him questions about the field in general. After that, I reached out to his company and found out they were attending FSE’s mixer [for industry professionals].”

Kalinin attended the mixer and spoke with Stocker in-person. “When Joe, the CEO for Patriot, heard about my experience in MLAT, he got excited about that,” she said, “because he had some projects going on that were tying in those two things. It ended up working out for me because I knew a little bit about both of those things.” 

Shortly afterwards, she was offered a position in their Cyber Security unit.

Since then, Kalinin has been working diligently on projects assigned by Patriot. Some of her day-to-day operations include shadowing professional staff members in meetings, learning technical terms, and debriefing with her mentor, Sunny, after interacting with clients. Kalinin also writes notes on what she learned, along with an overview of her day, both for herself and for future interns and new employees at Patriot.

“I’m going to be working on a project that ties in cyber security and machine learning. We’re going to train a network that takes in statements of work, an outline of what we plan to do, and generates examples or steps for future projects,” she said.

Kalinin admitted being nervous before quickly growing comfortable with her current work environment. “It’s definitely scary at first,” she said, “just because I didn’t want to sound stupid, but I realized that they want you to ask questions. They enjoy explaining things. They’re always looking for people who are not only qualified but also passionate.”

Aside from her positive experience with her internship, Kalinin was kind enough to offer advice for fellow FSE students looking into getting one for themselves.

“Don’t be afraid to be annoying,” she said, “the worst thing they can say is no. I got most of my internship opportunities from showing my interests and passions. If they don’t respond, try to pester them. Have a LinkedIn presence, and grow your network both online and in person. Most of our professors are involved in the industry, so get to know them early!”