Michael Valanzola is a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach Campus pursuing a B.S. in Homeland Security and minoring in Terrorism studies. He has developed a strong interest in homeland and national security. As a result, Michael Valanzola pursued an internship at the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC) where he actively engaged and participated in the security enterprise as an Administrative Security College Intern. After successfully completing the internship, Michael received and accepted a full-time job offer to join the team at NGC as an Associate Industrial Security Analyst commencing in January 2021.
At Embry-Riddle, Michael Valanzola is heavily involved in the Office of Undergraduate Advising as he has served as both a University 101 College Success Peer Mentor and Student Assistant. Additionally, Michael is part of the Air Force Association sponsored Silver Wings Challenger Chapter. Through his involvement, Michael seeks to mentor and inspire others to empower them to be successful as individuals and as future professionals.
How did you obtain your internship with Northrop Grumman?
I heard about this internship by announcements from both my Homeland Security degree program department and Career Services as I too was searching for an internship just like yourself. I went to information and networking events and provided hiring managers a prepared on-hand resume and cover letter. Also, I attended the Fall 2019 Industry/Career Expo and I talked with Talent Acquisitions and provided my resume and cover letter. Then I was selected to be interviewed in October and a few weeks later, I found out that I had earned an internship for the summer of 2020. I interned at Northrop Grumman as an Administrative Security College Intern for ten weeks.
What advice do you have for students interested in obtaining an internship/co-op?
Advice that I would give to students interested in obtaining any internship/co-op are three things: Be prepared, be persistent, and be patient.
- Preparation is key to success. Having resumes and cover letters refined and tailored to each specific company that you wish to apply to and submitting those on hand at various networking and information sessions hosted by those companies set you apart from others. Reach out to professors and Career Services’ Program Managers to work with you on refining your final product as they have a good grasp of industry knowledge. Next, learning and researching companies is crucial. Knowing company culture, their values, major historic milestones, and products of innovation that they produce will most definitely send a reassuring message to university recruiters, guest speakers, and to the potential interviewer(s) you meet that you are prepared. It also shows that you have vested great interest in wanting to intern for them. Lastly, practicing to perfect dialogue and etiquette at networking and social events with recruiters and rehearsing your interview on your own time is pinnacle. First impressions matter. Individuals from companies meeting you for the first time at these events will remember you for how you communicated and carried yourself out. They will not want to hire those who aren’t professional and can’t properly engage in conversation. In total, take the time to be prepared. In doing so, it will enable you to be competitive and stand out from others.
- Persistent applicants are go-getters and have an overall higher chance to obtaining an internship as those who aren’t persistent. Persistence involves being proactive by being prepared. Also, persistence means that you are willing to do what it takes to achieve what it is you have your mind set on to achieve. With being diligent, proactive, and engaged, you will be set apart from those who are not. In a more practical sense, this means attending information and social networking events to further develop your image and thereby demonstrate your eager willingness to intern with the respective company you wish to intern for. Furthermore, persistence involves building a network and staying in touch with those you have interacted from that company. A simple way to do so is by creating a LinkedIn account. In the ever-changing environment around each and everyone of us, the online platform has become more and more prevalent. LinkedIn allows you to stay in touch and engaged with recruiters and individuals which will help you in the long-term. Finally, take the time to have informational interviews at various information and networking events that you attend. These informal interviews allow for you to have face-to-face interaction with recruiters and possibly interviewers. By taking the time to engage, you demonstrate your persistence to intern at the company that you desire to intern for. Take initiative and make conversation with a recruiter as that conversation you have may help you in the long-run and that individual you interacted with will remember you. Note, they know and remember you more than you actually think. In sum, be persistent, but also be wary not to overstep your bounds as that may reflect negatively on you as well.
- Patience is a virtue as the saying goes. Be patient. You may have to apply to dozens of companies and organizations to finally get to where it is you will end up. With patience comes time and practice. One of the biggest pieces of advice that I could give to you is to not be discouraged if you are told no at the time. From that experience, learn from it. Seek feedback and guidance on how you approached that situation and utilize that feedback to make the next situation a better one. Additionally, it allows you to have a second chance when applying to another company. Over time, your skills will be refined and you become better at talking with recruiters, establishing a network, and interviewing. Therefore, this process takes time. Don’t give up, keep striving to be better and learn from past experiences to give you that competitive edge in the job market.
In summary, take time to prepare, be diligent in every opportunity afforded to you, but be patient as this process is not for the swift, but for those who endure.
Please tell us about your learning experience, both professionally and personally/ What are the benefits you will take away from these experiences?
Throughout my internship at Northrop Grumman, my learning experience was excellent. Each day, our intern team would meet with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to discuss technical tasks, roles, and responsibilities that contribute to the overall enterprise. The purpose was not to become an SME in each respective subject, rather to become a well-rounded individual in understanding how all components within the enterprise functioned. During these learning sessions, our team was able to have both a conceptual and practical approach to learning which was effective. Professionally, this training helped me fasten my skill-set to be a successful employee and it contributed to my overall exposure to the enterprise. Personally, I had the great opportunity to learn from various experts with unique backgrounds and see how their expertise contributed to the overall enterprise.
What skills came in handy and what skills did you develop?
Major skills that came in handy during my internship included leadership, teamwork and planning. Through being able to utilize my leadership skills, I was able to foster effective teamwork to execute planning to provide a quality product to my managers at Northrop Grumman. Throughout the internship, I was also able to refine all of these skills as well as I had to learn how to effectively tailor these skills to the needs of the company. Moreover, I was able to improve upon my presentation skills as there were numerous occasions of extemporaneous and impromptu presentations that I had to give to both my peers and to managers. Lastly, one of the biggest skills that I was able to further develop and refine was being flexible. At Northrop Grumman, being able to have flexibility is the key to success. In total, these skills that I refined and gained through this internship experience has positively impacted me and has made me both a more effective employee professionally and as an individual.
What did you do that contributed to your employer ultimately offering you a full-time position at the end of your internship?
Our intern team was tasked with and responsible for conducting a security in-depth risk assessment of the Northrop Grumman site where I interned. We collaboratively worked together to collect, analyze, and construct proposed areas of mitigation for areas that we deemed vulnerable based on assessments. Collectively, our findings and presentation materials were well accepted by the leadership team and they will be implementing many areas of our findings to make the Northrop Grumman campus where I interned a safer campus. As a result of this success, I was offered a full-time job with Northrop Grumman to be an Associate Industrial Security Analyst upon my graduation in December 2020 starting in January 2021. I look forward to working for Northrop Grumman and to be able to be a part of something greater than myself and to serve my country as a civilian.