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Co-op Spotlight | MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Danielle Mahn shares their co-op experience in Security Services at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Tell us about your co-op.

I’m a Security Services co-op at MIT Lincoln Laboratory located in Lexington, MA. My co-op is set up in a rotational schedule, where I work with different sectors of the Security Services Department either performing administrative tasks or assisting employees with technical tasks. The co-op rotates around from Government Security (Visitor Services, Personnel Security), Physical Security (Alarm Control, Security Applications and Systems Team), Industrial Security, Information Security (Forensics Analysis Center), and Special Programs. All to say, my day-to-day varies and my entire job function changes every 5 weeks! I am given many side projects from all the functional areas, so I have time do perform independent work to in the afternoon. Mainly, these tasks come in the form of audits and whatever technical strengths and interests you have (PowerPoint, Excel, Linux, etc.). I enjoy this co-op immensely due to the career prospects, ever-changing environment, and positive culture, even during COVID!

The functions of the lab’s technical departments are highly sensitive, so all security personnel (including the co-op!) have to maintain a government Top Secret security clearance. This clearance stays with you for many years and can be transferred from the lab to other government contractors, research centers, or agencies. Many agencies consider the clearance to be a major leg up in the job hunt, so it’s a huge plus. Still, tons of co-ops have pursued careers at the job, and I have worked with over 5 former co-ops since I started in July.

Why did you decide to pursue this co-op?

I found this co-op on NUCareers as a sophomore when looking for crime analyst positions, but I soon realized that my scope switched from crime analysis to intelligence analysis, and holding a top secret clearance in government security seemed like a great place to start. Since starting, I can honestly say this co-op has significantly altered what I want to do after graduation. I have learned a ton about government security and general security administration, how to become a cyber security professional without the bachelor’s degree, and so much more. I now am pursuing a summer job (2021) at the Lab in Information Systems Security, a field I never thought I’d go back to after disliking computer science at Northeastern. 

How has this co-op impacted you personally?

Since starting, I can honestly say this co-op has significantly altered what I want to do after graduation. I have learned a ton about government security and general security administration, how to become a cyber security professional without the bachelor’s degree, and so much more. I now am pursuing a summer job (2021) at the Lab in Information Systems Security, a field I never thought I’d go back to after disliking computer science at Northeastern. 

What was your biggest takeaway from this co-op?

My biggest takeaway is that you don’t need to know exactly what job you want, but you should consider what you want to try in the next five years and go from there. I realized that there are thousands of jobs out there that could fit what you think you want to do, but you just don’t know about them yet. Once you break through to the field you feel is home, the possibilities are endless.


Learn more about co-op in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

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