Ben Tatum was recently encouraged by a national security leader.

A rising sophomore studying computer science, Tatum was one of 24 students who rounded out an experience in the Hume Center for National Security and Technology summer internship program by visiting agencies in the national security and intelligence community. This included spending time at the CIA, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, where they were able to have a roundtable discussion with Director Avril D. Haines.

“Director Haines taking that time to meet with us meant so much because we know she has such a busy schedule,” Tatum said. “It really emphasized what they were telling us during the visit — that they want to work with people like us because they value people from different backgrounds who have a fresh point of view.”

The value of internships was highlighted in the Summer 2023 edition of the Virginia Tech Magazine.

In addition to learning new things about the intelligence community and related fields, students said the trip helped them learn more about their own possible career paths.

“I think the trip in general, but especially being able to talk to leaders in that field gave us a real look into what it’s actually like to work in this field day to day,” Tatum said. “That’s a feeling of clarity. For most of us, it solidified that this is the field that we want to be in after we graduate. But it could also give people the information to know this may not be the field for them.”

Students also said this trip was an opportunity to make friendships that will continue after their internships end.

“We had some free time to explore D.C. a little. Me and my research partner Lizzie, had such a great time just walking around the monuments and sharing a meal together,” Tatum said. “This trip really took us from being research partners to being actual friends.”

While only a small group of students traveled to Washington, D.C., a total of 63 Virginia Tech students participated in the Hume Center for National Security and Technology summer internship program.

“The summer internship program is an integral part of our student-focused programing,” said Ehren Hill, associate director for education and outreach for the Hume Center. “It gives students an opportunity to work with National Security Institute faculty on cutting edge research in the national security space.”

The Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology is housed within the Virginia Tech National Security Institute and serves as the hub for national security-focused research, experiential student learning, and workforce development at the university. The summer internship program and similar efforts aim to work toward that effort of encouraging Virginia Tech students to consider a career in national security, the intelligence community, or related fields.