The Future Leaders Project
The Future Leaders Project is an initiative of Workforce Southwest Washington, Columbia River Economic Development Council and WSU Vancouver that seeks to connect students from historically marginalized communities with regional employers and provide them with tools to thrive as they prepare to enter the workforce. This initiative also ensures students are paid, gain experience, and receive additional mentorship, network, and professional development opportunities.
Edge Networks has had the privilege of participating in the Future Leaders Project numerous times since 2019. Past participants also include local businesses such as Columbia Bank, Port of Vancouver USA, Point North, YWCA Clark County, CREDC Economic Development, TwinStar Credit Union, and more.
Thomas’ Cybersecurity Experience at Edge Networks with the Future Leaders Project
Tell us about yourself! Who are you, and what fun things did you work on during your internship?
I’m Thomas Everett Haynes, a computer science student at WSU Vancouver. I have experience in cybersecurity software development, biological research, and video game development. Interning at Edge Networks this summer had me doing a wide range of work like automated cybersecurity testing, organizational training, and aggregating all that data for various uses.
What helped you decide on Edge Networks?
Honestly, it was close. There are a lot of interesting and fast-paced tech companies in the area. What really finalized my decision was when I had an in-person meeting with Mark Tishenko, the founder and CEO, as part of the interview process. I am also a small business entrepreneur, and getting to talk and meet him brought up some great conversations about leadership, business philosophies, the best way to provide honest and outstanding value, and the importance of giving back to the community. I knew then that Edge was a place where someone could make a difference without working themselves to the bone.
What unexpected thing did you learn from your internship?
You always learn so much from internships, but the little things you pick up from working with a group are, of course, expected. One thing that caught me off guard was a tool called Sumo Logic. The software gathers all kinds of data, like error logs or login attempts, and lets you configure customized dashboards for either a report or a continuous monitoring view. I used to work in web app development, making a cybersecurity dashboard, and it was amazing to see how far the field had come.
Tell us about the skills you’ve learned and how they can help you in your career.
I came to Edge knowing a little about cybersecurity, having worked on some software in that field before. But this was a whole new angle to see things from. During my time here, I leveraged my experience with some scripting languages to automate various tasks and free up the time of more senior individuals. While this may seem trivial, it’s the perfect thing for someone in this position to do, as you constantly practice the fundamentals, cementing them in your skillset.
A lot of the tasks seem simple and may be able to be done by hand, but in using tools like Python or PowerShell to automate reports and data aggregation, you can not just free up someone’s time now but hundreds of hours down the line. This is critically important, especially with something like cybersecurity.
The future holds a lot for me. Currently, I am juggling many things: my entrepreneurial goals, school, and my family. More specifically, I am considering approaching Edge for employment beyond this internship, potentially something that could leverage my years of experience as a software developer—transitioning to being a part-time student or another arrangement that would allow me to continue my studies. The people I have worked with this summer are all outstanding. Anyone would be lucky to be part of such a team.
Future Leaders Project | Alexis’ Experience
Alexis Cozart, the Cyber Analyst at Edge Networks, managed Thomas directly during his cybersecurity internship. We interviewed Alexis about the experience; here’s how it went:
What was your experience having an intern?
Thomas is a computer science student who interned for our cybersecurity team. He brought a fresh set of skills and perspective and was a proficient problem-solver.
Was there anything you learned in the process?
Throughout this experience, I gained valuable insights into effectively managing a part-time employee. Additionally, I honed the skill of identifying an individual’s strengths and strategically integrating them to meet our specific business needs. This process illuminated the importance of adaptability and resourcefulness in optimizing team dynamics and productivity.
Any advice for future students hoping to intern with the Future Leaders Project?
Absolutely! Firstly, identify an industry that genuinely ignites your passion. When you’re genuinely excited about the field, it fuels your motivation and determination. Secondly, approach the opportunity with an open mind and a genuine willingness to learn new things. Lastly, once you’ve found your stride, dive in and give it your all. This combination of passion, openness, and wholehearted effort will undoubtedly set you on a path to success with the Future Leaders Project.
Why should students interested in cybersecurity choose Edge for their internship?
Opting for an internship at Edge offers a unique advantage for students interested in cybersecurity. The atmosphere here is filled with people who not only excel in their roles but also have a genuine passion for mentoring and teaching. This sets the stage for a happy and healthy work environment that prioritizes learning and growth, leading to a fulfilling career in the cybersecurity field.
To learn more about the Future Leaders Project, we recommend visiting the WSU Vancouver website here.