Cassidy DiPaola Joins HIG for Fall Internship
Cassidy DiPaola is a sophomore at Penn State and is interning at Higher Information Group for the fall semester in the IT Department.
Cassidy DiPaola is a sophomore at Penn State and is interning at Higher Information Group for the fall semester in the IT Department. Cassidy’s journey into cybersecurity started when she was 14 years old. Her interest in the field grew while attending a week-long summer program called Camp Cadet which provides children a glimpse into the life of a law enforcement officers. “My father worked at the state prison” Cassidy explains, “He signed me up to see if maybe law enforcement would be a good fit for me.” She was 14 when enrolled in the program. “You have to interview first to make sure you’re not a troubled youth. It’s not that kind of camp. They had me sit in one of their interrogation rooms at the State Barracks. It was a little intense, to be honest. They were nice though, just asked some standard questions about my reasons for enrolling.”
Cassidy continues to describe her week at Camp Cadet. “Each county has their version. My younger brother went through the program years later in a different county. He got to learn how to use a firearm. Their setup was much nicer because we were living closer to a bigger city when he was enrolled. Somerset” the county she enrolled in, “is in the middle of nowhere.”
“We had 5 am drills. Every morning we’d wake up to running for a few miles, doing pushups before the sun was even up. During the day, various State agencies would visit. One day the PA Game Commission brought in a tranquilized bear. We all got to examine him up close, which was a little scary but interesting. I was worried the bear could snap out of it at any moment and wreak havoc all over the camp. We took a trip to both the county and state prison. We didn’t interact with any prisoners. We were basically in the waiting room area, glancing at monitors that showed prisoners moving around. Then they showed us some of the weapons that prisoners made that were confiscated.” Cassidy says they all marveled at the ingenuity behind the custom-crafted arsenal. Most of the weapons, she recalls, were of the stabbing variety.
“We had an actual FBI unit come and set up a mock crime scene. We had to look for clues and gather evidence. It was like we were on an episode of CSI. Probably the most memorable part was visiting the 9/11 crash site in Shanksville. We got to walk right where the plane hit.” Cassidy explains that this is a rare occurrence. Most visitors can only view the site from a specific distance. During their time at the crash site, they were instructed to bring any found pieces back to the groundskeeper.
Out of all of the experiences, one of the most memorable was meeting her best friend during her time at Camp Cadet. “We’re still friends to this day. She goes to Columbia now.”
Camp ended with two final tasks. Each had to be completed to graduate from the program. The first was a two-mile run. Something that came quickly to Cassidy considering the early morning drills she’d endured from the previous consecutive mornings. The second sounded a bit more breathtaking but Cassidy describes it in a very casual manner, “We had to repel down a 50-foot tower. Once we passed, there was a graduation ceremony. They even gave us diplomas. I have mine in a frame at home.”
Cassidy was grateful for the experience as it gave her some direction when she arrived at Penn State. “I started as an engineering major. I even interned at a major defense contractor,” but it just wasn’t for her. She eventually switched majors after taking a class on coding. “I’d love to do something with the government in IT security, maybe something that combines law enforcement with coding. I’ve learned Java 1, but I’m hoping to expand my coding language.”
Cassidy is now working on the HelpDesk taking phone calls and assisting customers with their IT needs for the duration of her fall internship.
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