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Co-op Spotlight | Boston Private, Information Security

Donald Sea, criminal justice and cybersecurity major, shares their co-op experience as an Information Security Administrator at Boston Private.

Tell us about your co-op.

My co-op for the Fall 2020 cycle was at Boston Private. I worked as an Information Security Administrator, reporting directly to the Chief Information Security Officer. The co-op position explores different aspects of Information Security, both technical and non-technical aspects of the field. I worked primarily on risk assessments for applications within the environment, looking into the controls and implementations to see what risks the application poses. Working with the Operations team, there were also weekly reports and audits regarding user accounts that were generated and analyzed. We worked closely with Information Systems and Information Technology to supplement their work with security recommendations and enhancements. 

Aside from the environment, we also focused on company-wide employee awareness ranging from annual security awareness trainings and awareness memos to phishing campaigns. We invested quite a bit of time into ensuring employees were aware of scams and risks, especially with a remote workforce through the pandemic. 

Why did you decide to pursue this co-op?

When applying for co-ops, I really was not certain as to which direction I wanted to go. I knew  that software engineering was not my primary interest, as I dislike lengthy programming projects. Being a Cybersecurity and Criminal Justice combined major, I was looking for positions that would focus more on the compliance, risk, and non-technical aspects of technological security. When the listings for Information Security slowly populated, I felt it was a perfect fit for me. 

How has this co-op impacted you personally?

One thing is for certain – my co-op at Boston Private has confirmed my interests in a non-technical field of cybersecurity. I am very glad to have found a career path that combined the ideas of justice and law with the technologies of today and beyond. As someone who was not aware of the field a few months prior, having the opportunity to work in Information Security at Boston Private essentially brought my interests and my future plans to me directly. I was very glad to have been able to work with the team, even though it was fully remote during a pandemic. I have been very lucky to work with such a team that cared, and above all, build my network with them.

What was your biggest takeaway from this co-op?

I quickly learned how challenging it was to work in Information Security. While a computer program may instantly error if a mistake happens, implementations in Information Security do not. Considering risk demands a lot of abstract and arbitrary planning and thinking. A small oversight may not damage anything now, but could create vulnerabilities for damage later, should a breach occur. This co-op taught me that attention to detail is important, and being thorough with everything is crucial. This is not only because we as a financial institution were audited, but also because a small lapse of judgment could have catastrophic consequences and loss.

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

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