I’m picky about where I work. I don’t like companies that seem to run an internship program simply because everyone else has one. Bishop Fox proved to me that it’s possible to find an impactful, rewarding, and fun internship outside of the traditional options.
One of the most important factors in finding a fulfilling workplace is a culture match. The culture of a company can be hard to judge as an outsider, but in BF’s case, it shined through during the first stages of the interview pipeline. In the process of verifying my references, I convinced HR to include a prank call to one of my close friends. It was clear from the start that this place had a relaxed and friendly environment. After a few rounds of phone interviews, I received an offer for an on-site position in the firm’s main Phoenix, Arizona office.
And I was off to see America.
Three days of driving later, I arrived in Arizona with little idea of what to expect. I didn't know what the office was like, I didn't know who I would be working with, and I only had a partial idea of what I would be working on; these are all scary factors to gamble on for someone who recently moved across the country. Arriving at the office on Day 1 was nerve-racking. The unassuming building in an arbitrary office park, identical to the buildings surrounding it, did not help. That all changed when I walked inside.
The space was alive with a stocked kitchen, spacious lounge (with ping pong and Nerf guns!), and company art scattered throughout. Effort was clearly made to create a welcoming environment. My worries quickly melted away (much like everything else in Arizona).
Of course, having an aesthetically pleasing office isn't what makes a place great to work. The work itself and the team members must be interesting, too. I was told that my time here should function as a "choose your own adventure," which meant that I had the opportunity to grow in areas that I thought were most important to my career path. I worked with multiple teams in BF doing one-of-a-kind work at my own pace. No two weeks were the same with a mix of internal process automation, development, and, most importantly, real-world security assessments.
It was awesome to be exposed to the lifecycle of an actual security assessment and to see how effective some experienced pentesters are at finding impactful vulnerabilities.
I also had the opportunity to contribute research to a DEF CON talk related to drone security which, at the time, was unknown territory for me. This eventually led me into the desert for a WIRED magazine video shoot.
While my time at work was never dull, time outside of work in a new location can be hit or miss. The heat of Arizona was interesting to experience; I had never been in 120-degree weather before. When they say it feels like an oven, they’re right. Instead of complaining, the utilitarian in me had me outside baking cookies using only the sun (the urban legend is true, it does work given the right temperature). Being mostly alone outside of the office, I had to make my own fun with solo activities like indoor paintball and indoor go-karting. Most summer activities in Arizona are indoors. This was completely fine with me, though.
One day, I decided to skateboard down a large mountain. At the time, this seemed like an excellent idea. My home state of Florida doesn't have mountains; how steep could they be?
The answer is … steep.
Somehow, I scraped myself up and had to take a few days off. I felt like BF went out of their way to make sure I was doing well during this time, even hand-delivering supplies to my hotel room. Besides that, there was no shortage of lunch outings, holiday activities, and a general feeling of community around the office all the way up until my small going-away party.
My time in the Arizona office is up, but I loved every minute of it. I took some risks with Bishop Fox, but the experience has greatly improved my personal network, inspired new workplace career goals, and sharpened both my technical and soft skills. I think it's rare for a workplace to truly inspire team bonds and a common success.
I don't know any company that pulls it off as well as Bishop Fox.
Alex Lynch was a Bishop Fox intern during the summer of 2017. In the following blog post, he recounts his life during those eventful months. Alex currently is a student at the University of Central Florida. He is expected to graduate with a Bachelor of Computer Science in Spring of 2018. For more information on Bishop Fox careers, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Careers page.