Last Updated: 09/14/2012*

With a rainbow-colored rack of toy dart guns on the wall, a foosball table in the break room and a dress code of t-shirts and jeans, SI Government Solutions looks more like a Silicon Valley startup than part of a big defense company.

There are employees shooting pool and a sign that says: “Twiddling your bits all day along.” In one room, a collection of doorknobs stands ready for a round of lockpicking, a favorite hacker hobby.

“Do not pick locks you do not own,” says a message on a nearby whiteboard – and as an afterthought, “Do not pick a nose you do not own.”

The playful vibe may seem out of place at a 90-year-old corporation. But as Raytheon expands its cybersecurity business, acquiring 10 companies in the past five years, it’s been absorbing the unique cultures of those firms as well.

Though the corporate culture varies from office to office, at one SI Government Solutions site employees find play breaks often lead to inspiration.

“I’ll be sitting at my desk and someone will come in and fire off a round of Nerf darts at me and then go running down the hall with me chasing them,” says one of the company’s 2012 interns. “You stop thinking about the problem, and all of a sudden you’ve got the solution.”

In this video interview, he describes what it’s like to work in a corporate environment that gives even the interns challenging work to do. Raytheon has withheld his name for security reasons.

At SI, long-term employees are available and willing to brainstorm on tough technical issues, he says.

“Here all the interns have really interesting projects that really push them, and are actually technically challenging and will actually be used in the field,” he says. “I think that’s just awesome.”

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