After 12 weeks as a summer intern for a software company in California, St. John’s University student Aqueena Alexander sees a clear career path toward her goal of becoming a chief information security officer for a Fortune 500 company.
“With this internship, I wanted to learn as much as I could about my chosen industry and confirm that this career was the right one for me—and I was able to do that.”
Aqueena expects to graduate in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Cyber Security Systems from The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS), located on the Queens, NY, campus at St. John’s.
Aqueena temporarily relocated to San Diego, CA, from May 15 to August 4, to serve as an Information Security Analyst Intern at ServiceNow, Inc., a firm that develops a cloud computing platform to help companies manage digital workflows for enterprise operations. “In my position,” she explained, “my role was to engage in incident response by responding to all forms of security threats that may arise throughout the company.”
But her decision to seek this internship was not solely based on her career aspirations. “One of the reasons I chose ServiceNow was because of their emphasis on social justice and the well-being of their employees, which directly aligns with the work I have been doing as an Ozanam Scholar,” said Aqueena, who minors in Social Justice: Theory and Practice in the Vincentian Tradition, and takes pride in her role as an Ozanam Scholar at St. John’s. That program, which is part of the Vincentian Institute for Social Action, provides a platform for students to critically examine the systems that perpetuate poverty and take action to advance social justice globally.
“At ServiceNow, there are many employee groups that actively engage to reduce social injustices. The company maintains a balance between providing a technical role and focusing on global issues, and that attracted me,” Aqueena said.
The internship also provided Aqueena with opportunities to have some fun. “I was able to go skydiving, which was on my bucket list, along with taking a trip to Disneyland, trying my hand at axe throwing, and experiencing a lot of food that was new to me—and I made great friends,” she recalled. “There was a perfect work-life balance, where I enjoyed the technical requirements of my intern position while having time to create wonderful memories with other interns.”
Aqueena traces her interest in the cybersecurity industry to her childhood, when she shared her mother’s enjoyment of television dramas such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. As her passion for technology evolved in subsequent years, she said, “I chose cybersecurity in particular because of its focus on protecting the information of people and businesses. To me, it’s almost like an undercover, superhero type of profession. There are also so many subsections of the field that I can never get bored.”
An international student who came to St. John’s from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Aqueena was drawn to the University because of the wide diversity of its students, faculty, administrators, and staff. “As an international student, diversity was a major component of my university selection process,” said Aqueena. “Before deciding on St. John’s, I reached out to current students, who were all welcoming and demonstrated an inclusive culture that I wanted to be part of.”
“St. John’s offered not only a very beautiful campus but a place where I did not have to search to find a sense of belonging,” she said. “Choosing St. John’s is the best decision I made for my education, and for taking the first step toward my professional career.”
Aqueena added, “St. John’s University is perfect for you if you have a drive to succeed, wish to experience a richly diverse community, and want to challenge yourself, while having the security of an abundance of supporting resources.”