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From Marketing Intern to Cyber Security Major: How 6 Months With SMA Marketing Changed My Life

Jan 26, 2018
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From Marketing Intern to Cyber Security Major

When I was offered an internship at SMA Marketing, I knew I was in for a challenge. But I also knew that it would be a great learning experience and an opportunity that most high school seniors never get. I had decided that I wanted to major in cyber security in college and knew that this internship would help me gain knowledge and real-world experience that would give me confidence in my choice of major.

I had picked cyber security as my major on a whim because it sounded cool and appealed to my desire to do detective work and catch cyber criminals. While my first impression of the field might have been a little far-fetched, cyber security is still exciting to me. In just a few short months of interning with SMA, I have developed a broad knowledge of web security topics ranging from the devastating effects of SEO poisoning on websites’ search engine rankings to how to fix a hacked WordPress site.

Diving Head First Into Web Security Research

As an intern at SMA Marketing, my goal was to immerse myself in the world of web security. There is no better way to learn than by diving head first into research, so I offered to write an article on the subject. I turned on my laptop and, as it whirred to life, the thoughts about how to start my article began spinning in my head. A half-hour into my research, I had numerous Google tabs open, displaying searches like “how are websites hacked” and “how to prevent hacks.”

I browsed article after article, telling me how to prevent a hack and then sending me off with the same severe warning about how I need to protect my website ASAP or it would be as good as dead. However, there was one problem. These articles offered no advice for those who had already fallen prey to hackers. So, I decided to focus my article on what website owners can do if their WordPress site has been hacked.  

Writing Blog Articles to Solve a Reader’s Problem

Writing an article on a topic that you have no previous knowledge of is truly a learning experience. With every new term that I had to look up, I gained a better understanding of the world of web security. I put myself in the shoes of the person who would be reading my article. What information would they need to solve their problem? This question served as the starting point for my blog article. Writing my first article allowed me to hone my research skills to suit the specific topic while gaining an appreciation for what is required to make a website informative.

What I Learned From Writing Web Security Blog Articles

Writing web security articles taught me new things about myself. I learned that I should embrace challenges that may seem overwhelming because they frequently open doors of knowledge and allow me to see possibilities I never knew existed. Writing blog articles also made me a more confident writer. My newly developed writing skills helped me deliver compelling articles that broke down complex information into language that would be suitable for readers who were inexperienced in web security. Like my readers, I started out uninformed and ended up gaining a new awareness of web security issues.

Beyond the Marketing Internship

When my internship came to an end, I was thrilled when I was asked to stay as part of the SMA team. In the months since my internship, I have written an article on website security myths and also created an infographic containing website security tips for small businesses. I am also tasked with updating plugins and running security scans for client websites on a monthly basis.

I learn something new with every project I take on and gain a deeper understanding of the effects of security breaches on business websites. I now know for sure that cyber security is the right major for me because of the experience I have gained and I see a real need for more professionals in the field.

The Value of an Internship

To say that my marketing internship was invaluable to me would be an understatement. Before my internship, I didn’t have any accomplishments to boast about which would separate me from the hordes of other high school seniors fighting their way into their top schools. Now, I am armed with three published blog articles, the indispensable knowledge acquired through hours of research, and the confidence gained by achieving my internship goals. Real life experience has deepened my interest, revealing a passion for web security that I didn’t know I had. I am now on a mission to inform website owners of the dangers of hacks and help those who fall prey to hackers.

I can’t say for sure, but I think my marketing internship helped me gain acceptance to the 6 colleges to which I applied. It not only gave me real-world experience that is applicable to my major, but it also gave me a real story to tell in my college essay. I’m proud to say that I will be majoring in Cyber Security at St. John’s University – Red Storm Class of 2022! I was awarded a very generous merit scholarship as well. I am grateful to Ryan and SMA Marketing for the opportunity to learn about web security and contribute to the agency.

My advice to other high school students is to seek out a summer internship related to your intended major or a field that interests you. You’ll gain valuable insight and experience that will help you with your college applications and your future studies.

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Ava Bavaro

By Ava Bavaro

As our marketing intern, Ava is the junior member of our SMA Marketing team. Her interests include web security, coding, anime, and K-Pop. She looks forward to a future career in cyber security.

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