From Soccer to Cybersecurity: Regent University Student Lands an Internship at Google

When Maximiliano Gigli ’19 (CAS) arrived at Regent University as a transfer student in the fall of 2018, his plans for the future were somewhat vague. Born and raised in Argentina, he’d spent time playing soccer in the U.S. as a student at a community college in Mississippi but held an interest in technology.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be,” he said. “But I knew I wanted to be in IT [information technology].”

Unbeknownst to Gigli at the time, that simple interest would lead him down a path. At the end of that path would be a coveted position at a prestigious tech company an ocean and half a continent away from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Although his search for a university to transfer to revolved primarily around finding an avenue by which to pursue studies in IT, he also had some less technical criteria.

“I wanted to be close to the ocean, in nice weather,” said Gigli.

His search led him to Regent.

“For some reason, Regent definitely stood out from the beginning,” said Gigli. “The admissions team was very supportive … they were very personal with me, they were always sure I was aware what was happening at all times.”

“That made a difference,” he added.

When he came to tour the campus and was shown Regent’s cyber range — a robust, state-of-the-art facility equipped for cyber-attack simulations and various other educational tools — he sealed his decision to enroll.

When he arrived, he was recruited to Regent Royal’s men’s soccer, playing as captain of the team and spending both time and effort on a regimen of drills, fitness and exercise.

It was his time off the field that opened his eyes to future possibilities.

“I never thought about cybersecurity,” he said. “This was the first school that showed me what I could do as a cybersecurity professional.”

“They [professors] showed me … how I could transition from school to the professional world,” he added. “That’s what made the difference when I came here.”

In addition to his own studies, Gigli participated in and helped lead efforts for cybersecurity events, cyber clinics, department forums, and collegiate competitions. He also started Regent University’s chapter of the National Student Cybersecurity Association.

Near the end of 2018, Gigli found and applied for an open internship position at a tech company. A few months later, just before spring break, that company reached out to Gigli.

That company was Google — one of the world’s leading information technology companies.

Google initiated a lengthy correspondence with Gigli, tallying five or six video conference call interviews and somewhere between 30 and 40 emails.

“It’s been a long process, but it’s been exciting,” he said. “I tried to be honest with what I knew and what I wanted to be, and that I was curious and willing to learn.”

Now he’s headed off to Zurich, Switzerland, with a year-long internship with Google secured.

He’ll be working with 2,000 other Google employees at the tech company’s largest office on the European mainland. They’ll handle projects on various Google products, including YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps.

“Those relationships with my mentor and my professors and the Career & Talent Management Office were what I needed to dive into the professional world,” Gigli said.

With only a year left in his degree program, Gigli is eager and committed to finishing his degree online while working at Google.

“I worked really hard to get here,” he said. “Once I graduate, I plan on coming back … [to] continue with my master’s degree.”

Gigli counts his faith a critical component of his journey.

“From the beginning, I always felt like this was too good to be true,” said Gigli. Since I came to Regent for the first time, I had so many doors that have opened for me, not only with Google … For me, this was all part of God’s plan, and letting him do the work that he has prepared for me.”