When small companies need comprehensive cybersecurity but don’t have an IT department of their own, they can turn to Ostra Cybersecurity to protect against the threat of cyber-attacks. This Fall, Ostra decided to strengthen their team of IT professionals by bringing on a part-time intern.

“Our owner is passionate about building a community and sharing knowledge,” explained Jessica Patterson, a HR Administrator at Ostra. “He wants to find people with that natural curiosity and a want to learn. And I think that’s why the internship program is really important to him.”  

For several years now, Ostra’s Owner Michael Kennedy has relied on the SciTech Internship Program to find and hire the ideal student candidates for their internships. SciTech not only connects employers to top STEM talent, it also reduces the cost of hiring them by covering half of the interns’ wages.

“I think it’s a great program,” Patterson said. “It shows that our state of Minnesota is looking toward our future and building our next leaders. We as employers have the financial benefit and the opportunity to learn from our interns. And the interns have this opportunity to gain access to real-world experiences. It benefits employers and it benefits our interns, and I think that’s a great thing for our state and for tech in general.”

The leniency to learn
After a round of interviewing, Cybersecurity Major Andrew Elgard secured the position, due in large part to his extracurricular passion for the industry. In addition to his courses, Elgard is also a member of the CCDC cybersecurity club at St. Cloud State and was eager to put his experience to the test in a professional environment.

Jumping in to his first internship, Elgard was pleasantly surprised by Ostra’s flexible work culture. His projects were more objective oriented and gave him the autonomy to explore his own way of approaching tasks and solving problems.

“Coming from the education background and trying to have more leniency and less structure, that was partially a challenge, but I think it was something that I wouldn’t have had any other way,” Elgard said. “Because it pushed me to fill in some of those gaps and not rely on a set way of doing things. Knowing I’m not alone and figuring it out with the people who’ve done it before really helped.” 

With this mentality, Elgard tackled a monitoring software project where after familiarizing himself with the source material, he then went on to develop a dashboard for it.

“Using the top tier detection and security software that Ostra works with and being able to really touch that stuff and figure it out was really cool. It’s something that I don’t think I would have got at another internship,” Elgard said.

When it comes down to it, that’s what Ostra’s internships are all about: setting students and young professionals up for success and making sure that when/if they leave, they have takeaways that can benefit them down the line.

“We want to give opportunities to students who are just starting out in the industry,” Kennedy said. “That skill, knowledge and real-world experience is setting talented individuals like Andrew up for tremendous success in his career.”

Get involved
Looking to build your small business workforce? Apply now and start planning your internship experience today.

College STEM majors looking to get involved can enroll here while returning SciTech students can send their current transcript to scitechmn@mntech.org to reactivate their account.