11:57 AM

Internship Exposes Student To Real-World Investigations

Internship Exposes Student To Real-World Investigations

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

An internship with National Security Consulting and Investigations this summer helped Aaron Garland advance toward his degree in International Security and Intelligence Studies. Garland, one of about 10 people to be selected for the internship from a group of 3,000 applicants, received the kind of real world experience one always hopes for with an internship opportunity including assessing information from some of the more infamous events of the past summer.

Currently a Field Service Rep for Advanced Technology Services in East Peoria, Illinois, Garland is considering a career with the FBI, CIA, or NSA in which he can combine his Information Technology and Intelligence experience.

Garland discussed the internship and his Bellevue University experience in a recent interview.

What type of work did you do for the internship?

I worked on a few different cases and projects. Projects ranged from researching the darknet, GPS, car, ATM -- anything really connected to the internet and their vulnerabilities. I personally worked with teams on the Orlando shooting, Nice/Paris attacks, and active counter terrorism efforts prior to the stabbing in France as well.

We actively go out using ‘google hacks’ to data mine, literally thousands of pages of data to sift through in a matter of hours to get what data we can on active terrorism efforts. We used social media (Twitter) a lot to find their accounts, and watch their communications. There was loads of information that I found, not all I can mention, but it saved lives and I’m proud of that.

How difficult was it to juggle the internship along with other responsibilities (family/job)?

aaronThe nature of the (internship) helped, because it was online. My wife is also going to Bellevue online and she needs her own time to do her work. We welcomed my daughter a little over a year and a half ago. We had to balance who would watch our daughter while the other did their work.

This created issues because sometimes, during the day, holidays such as July 4th are active times for terrorists and we have lots of projects during that time. Right after or in between family festivities, I would work on the projects or ‘Red Cells.’ It can be very distracting given the ‘norm’ that is going around you while thwarting terrorism.

How did you first learn about Bellevue University and what prompted you to pursue your degree here?

My daughter being born prompted me to go back to school and better myself. I had a few co-workers go through the program here and they mentioned that it worked well for them, so I decided to take a look. I honestly was not seeking out the International Security and Intelligence Studies program, I just clicked on it and it looked like it would be rewarding. I wanted something exciting and dynamic that I could be proud of.

What have you enjoyed the most about your Bellevue University experience?

Bellevue offers the flexibility that was required to maintain my responsibilities as a father and a husband. I started to work with Dr. Darius Watson the most out of necessity, see… he's the kind of teacher that pushes you to the very limit, but not over. So it required a lot of communication and phone calls. Over time I gained a lot of respect for him as a person and as an instructor.

You earned an Associate’s at Illinois Central. What was the credit transfer process like?

The transfer process was extremely easy--just send over your transcripts and a few calls between the two schools and it was over with relative ease. Majority of my credits transferred that otherwise would not have to other competitive colleges, even locally.

Who have been your biggest supporters in your academic and career endeavors?

My wife without a doubt, without her taking care of my family while I was working 6+ hours at a time on projects or the internship I would have never succeeded. She took on a lot of responsibility and workload to help pick up the slack that I would have to drop. I admit it's not been equal by any means and she's handled it in stride.

My father for always telling me I could do more than him in life, and pushed me to do more. He saw what I was capable of even when I did not.

And Dr. Watson for being understanding, yet for realizing my talent and sculpting it to what it is today. He stuck his neck out for me at the start of the internship when we had some paperwork mishaps that could have resulted in me losing my spot (6 months in the making). He's been a great supporter and mentor.