Security Forward: a Peirce College / University of Pennsylvania Internship Experience

Security Forward: a Peirce College / University of Pennsylvania Internship Experience

In spring 2021, Peirce College partnered with the University of Pennsylvania’s Information Systems & Computing division to create a radical new internship geared at bridging the gap between information security students and a workforce in need of new employees with experience in the field. 

Four Peirce students and recent graduates were recruited to participate in the internship program called Security Forward, which boasted flexible hours to accommodate obligations such as jobs and family needs, remote work status, a competitive pay rate, and an impressive mentorship structure. Recent graduates S. Dema Zagadinow (B.S., Information Technology ’20), Jason Fouch (B.S., Information Technology ‘21), Kahil Hinton (B.S., Information Technology ’21; M.S., Organizational Leadership & Management ’22), and current Information Technology student Tina Tran were provided an opportunity to use the tech skills they gained in their coursework at Peirce in a complex, real world work environment.

Peirce Information Technology student Tina Tran with her plaque from the University of Pennsylvania’s Information Systems & Computing Division

Interns were given the chance to contribute to important projects, participate in high-level meetings with decision makers and C-Suite leaders, and further hone skills necessary to excel in the Information Security field. They were given the chance to collaborate with each other and with members of Penn’s ISC division and grow professional relationships that will impact their careers for years to come.

The internship program concluded with an Awards and Recognition Ceremony on November 18th, attended by the leaders from UPenn’s ISC division, the interns, and Peirce College staff and faculty, including Dr. Patrick Coyle, IT Professor; Holly Tillery, IT Academic Advisor; Marci Brown, Career Development Counselor; and Leslie Ballway, Director of Career & Professional Development.

“Welcome to the League of Information Security Professionals,” saluted Paul Herrmann, InfoSec Director, who expressed how successful the program had been both for interns and Penn staff. Jason, Tina, Kahil, and Dema shared details about what they had learned and become most interested in during their internship, demonstrating how the program had helped ignite passion and direction in their careers.

Samuel Jenkins, Senior IT Security Analyst, presented each intern with two individually selected books based on their particular interests, growth areas, and conversations they had with their mentors, as well as plaques and certificates to help them legitimize and commemorate their internship experience.

Nick Falcone, Executive Director of Information Security and the University Information Security Officer, reminded the interns to use their new network to springboard to their next position. Don’t just stay in touch, he emphatically urged the four Peirce interns, but tap him to personally recommend them to jobs in his network – so that his colleagues in other organizations would “owe him” when they saw what great employees they were.

After an intern cited how the experience helped grow her confidence, Tom Murphy, SVP of IT and CIO, jumped in and imparted some personal vulnerability and wisdom: “After all this time, I still suffer from Impostor Syndrome too! Use it as energy to grow,” he encouraged.

Congratulations to our Peirce College interns! We hope to continue this highly effective internship program with the University of Pennsylvania in the future. For Peirce students and alumni who may be interested in future opportunities, please contact the Center for Career & Professional Development at or 215.670.9202.

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