Aiken, SC (05/11/2023) — Many University of South Carolina Aiken students have the opportunity to gain experience in their chosen fields through internships with local companies. Stephen Canepa, an applied computer science major with a concentration in cybersecurity, will intern for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions beginning May 18.
What motivated you to study computer science?
That's a funny story because I was originally a nursing major! I started my clinicals and did not care for the hospital as much as I thought would-it just wasn't for me. I took a lot of computer courses in high school and thought I might like to get back to that. I took a semester of computer science and changed my major during my third year.
I miss my nursing professors, but they encouraged me to do what I truly want to do. I think what drew me to nursing is that I really enjoy helping people, and I can still get that from cybersecurity. If I can help a business from getting hacked, then I did something good for someone.
How does this opportunity align with your career goals?
An internship is an important milestone, one that most people need in order to find a good job. I need real-world experience in addition to classroom education. After graduation, I'd like to work with a smaller company, feel my way around the field, and eventually open my own cyber business.
What else do you hope to gain from this experience?
I want to see different applications of cybersecurity. What can I do with it? How can I apply what I'm learning in the classroom? Cybersecurity is a broad field, and I think having an internship will open my eyes to what types of jobs I can do with my degree. I know there's a huge need for cybersecurity, but there's still so much research on the best way to do things. It will be ever-changing in order stay one step ahead of the hackers.
How were you chosen for this role?
I applied for 15 other internships through Career Services, including one other with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions that had already filled. I found and applied for this one two days before it closed and just sold myself the best I could. Soon after that I got a call asking if I could do a phone interview in five minutes. It was nerve-racking, but I guess I did ok because I got the job! Maybe it worked out better that way because I gave honest, straightforward answers that I didn't prepare in advance.
What advice would you give other students seeking an internship?
Keep applying, and don't give up. If you need assistance, go to Career Services. They will give you all the tools you need, and then you have to go out and do the rest. When choosing where to apply, pick internships that will be useful and hands-on-not just fetching coffee.
What other experiences have helped prepare you for your future in cybersecurity?
I was a manager at the Runway Dog Cafe in Aiken for a long time beginning in high school. That experience allowed me to learn a lot of background about running a business, such as ordering and maintaining inventory. I will carry that experience to another business in the future.