Have Security Intern Imposter Syndrome? So Did I!

Spending 12 weeks as a Futureforce intern with the Salesforce Security team taught me the soft skills I need to finish college strong and jump start my career.
Have Security Intern Imposter Syndrome? So Did I!

For many people, especially when you’re first starting out at a new job, imposter syndrome can be a major hurdle. It might even prevent you from taking a chance and applying for your dream job. But if I’ve learned one thing during my Futureforce internship on the Salesforce Security team this summer, it’s that the more you do your job, the more competent you will feel.

Now, I can’t take full credit for that. It’s actually something Salesforce’s Co-CEO, Bret Taylor, mentioned during a speaker series. He told us that his personal solution to imposter syndrome is to “just do your job.” It was exactly what I needed to hear, because, as someone who started the summer knowing very little about cybersecurity, I was both excited about deep-diving into a brand new field but also terrified that I didn’t know what I was getting into.

What Was I Doing Here, Anyway?

Ok, so a little background: I spent the summer working as a technical writing intern on the Security Communications and Engagement (SC&E) team under Senior Technical Communications Manager, Carrie Miller. Sure, I’d taken plenty of technical communications classes in college, but this was my first role in the field. And I had a computer science education, but wasn’t going to touch code all summer. What had I gotten myself into?

After a few deep breaths, I realized that I’ve actually known since my first year at Georgia Tech that I wanted to be a technical writer because I’m passionate about making documentation that is intuitive and accessible. Turns out, Salesforce was the perfect place to do that. Why? Well, trust is the number one value at Salesforce. 

So I took my existing perspective of the end-user and what they want, paired with my knowledge that I was capable of solving deeply technical problems, and buckled up.

But What Was I Really Doing?

During my 12 weeks as part of the SC&E team, every day was unique! I’d usually start my day by checking my calendar, email, and of course Slack, then setting some goals for the day. There was usually at least one event organized by Futureforce to attend, such as product demos, webcasts, volunteer opportunities, and that executive speaker series I mentioned. At some point during the morning, I’d also head down to the coffee bar to grab an iced matcha latte with oat milk and vanilla. The baristas definitely knew my name and order!

Then I’d spend the rest of the day drafting content, researching new concepts, or editing existing documentation. My main project for the summer was working on an educational module for developers and engineers all about Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). 

PKI is a super important concept for developers to understand because it’s what allows us to securely transmit data over the Internet. However, not everyone is aware of how exactly it works, what it does, or why it’s so important to implement in code. My job? To develop a series of documentation pages that break down the fundamentals of PKI. 

And on the side, I also had the chance to edit and update other existing documentation on subjects like certificate monitoring and multi-factor authentication. Doing so, I was often on Slack, chatting with subject matter experts or project managers to get their perspective on whatever I happened to be working on. It’s super important for the entire Security organization to have up-to-date information and resources, and I got to help with that by touching a broad range of communications and projects, working with a variety of teams.

Soft Skills for the Win

That imposter syndrome I was suffering from? Well, when you’re surrounded by so many accomplished, intelligent people, it can be super real. It would have been easy enough to convince myself that I got this great gig by some fluke. But when I really examined why I had this feeling, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do the tasks required, but that I was worried a surprise task I couldn’t handle would come up. 

Thankfully, my team was very supportive in meeting me where I was as I got up to speed, and were always willing to answer questions or connect me with a subject matter expert. That culture of collaboration and helping one another has been one of the best parts of working at Salesforce. Every time I handled an unfamiliar or difficult situation, I impressed myself and built up my confidence. The more work I did, the more I knew that I could always ask for help, advice, or clarification.

In fact, it’s those soft skills that I developed during my internship that are just as important as the technical skills. Working at Salesforce has definitely taught me so much about what I value in a workplace and company culture. In my 12 weeks, I’ve seen so much appreciation for each other and for the work that the company does. 

My favorite Slack channel? #airing-of-happiness-thanks-and-gratitude. It’s where thousands of members share messages celebrating everything from helpful colleagues to new hires to weddings, and more. I think it’s really special to have that expression of joy and positivity in the workplace.

Want to Launch Your Own Career with Salesforce?

If you’re considering applying for a Salesforce internship, I say, “go for it!” Check out the awesome opportunities available and find something that resonates with you, then just apply. I definitely wasn’t sure if I’d hear back from the program, but you’re probably more qualified than you think you are, so it’s worth a shot. And if you get an interview, make sure to show off your authentic self and unique passions.

Once you’ve gotten the gig, make sure to take advantage of everything that the program has to offer. Don’t be afraid to schedule coffee chats, get to know your coworkers, explore the city, and come into the office when you can. Did I mention the coffee bar?

As I head back to Atlanta to kick off my senior year, I’m a bit sad these 12 weeks flew by as quickly as they did. But, I’m also excited to see my friends and family, enjoy my last year of college, and start planning for life after graduation. Maybe I’ll see you out there!

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