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Say “Hello” to the Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders Winners

Technology has the power to connect more than just computers, routers, or switches. In the right hands, it can connect people from all corners of the world. And for 11 students from 11 different countries, this week’s Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders grand prize trip to San Jose, California is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do just that. As winners of the annual NetRiders competition, they have the chance to discover new IT career paths, network with industry experts, and learn how they can use their skills to someday solve the world’s most pressing social issues.

Meet this year's group of NetRiders winners; they're the future of the IT industry.

Meet this year’s group of NetRiders winners; they’re the future of the IT industry.

Current and recent Cisco Networking Academy students can compete in NetRiders, an interactive networking skills contest from May to October that motivates students to pursue future education and training in the technology field. During the competition, students take a timed theoretical exam, a Packet Tracer exam, and participate in a network simulation activity — hands-on challenges designed to put their knowledge of Networking Academy curriculum to the test.

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Cisco, Greenlight for Girls Inspire Women to Pursue STEM Careers

This blog was originally published on the Cisco Learning Network.

I’m not an engineer. I’m not technical. I didn’t pursue STEM studies in university, either.  So, why am I making so much noise and effort around getting more girls and women into STEM? Simply put, I’m an “advocate” and a “voice” willing to amplify my belief in the growing need to get more girls and women involved in STEM fields.

The bug bit me five years ago when I joined Cisco as a Technical Services Manager. Prior to working at Cisco, I was a people manager at MasterCard. I had little exposure to the technical side of the business, but shortly after starting, I found myself managing engineers for the first time. It was quite an experience, and a positive one at that! I had the chance to realize and break down all the stereotypes about engineers. I came to see each one as an incredible, intelligent, unique person that I was lucky to work with.

My teams were about 15 to 20% women, which was the complete opposite of what I was used to before my time at Cisco. Hiring women into the roles proved a frequent challenge at the time, with both a lack of female candidates and a very non-diverse team of interviewers. I began working with engineers in the Middle East and learned about their challenges in pursuing STEM studies. Some were discouraged by their family and friends, while others had trouble enrolling in classes at their local universities.

Hearing their stories fueled my interest and drive to make a difference. It was just too obvious; something had to be done, and I wanted to be part of that “something!” Not all of these women were willing or comfortable to speak up about the challenges they were facing so, I was ready to be their “voice.”

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Cisco Networking Academy Empowers the Disabled in Sri Lanka

This post was written by guest blogger Emma Reid, marketing manager for Cisco’s Social Innovation Group, Asia-Pacific region.

emreidIn 2001, the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) launched the Network on Disability, a program designed to connect Sri Lanka’s disabled community to meaningful jobs. The EFC’s ICT Training Center, which launched in 2009 with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO), has empowered more than 160 disabled people with the IT and language skills training they’ll need to thrive in a digital world. The EFC’s objective is to develop the employability skills of people with diverse disabilities in Sri Lanka by embracing the vision of “productive employment through social harmony.”

In 2014, the training center achieved status as a Cisco Networking Academy. “This is a milestone of the ICT Training Center, as it is the only center in Sri Lanka which trains people with diverse disabilities in Cisco courses,” said Manique Gunaratne, Head of the ICT Training Centre. This year, EFC started offering Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) courses to students with disabilities. For the CCNA course, nine men and women with disabilities have been selected. Among them are three visually impaired participants, three hearing impaired participants, and three with physical disabilities. On October 23, the Commercial Bank donated millions worth of Cisco equipment to be used for the courses. Gunaratne, herself, lost her sight 15 years ago due to retinitispigmentosa, a disease for which no cure has been found.

“Cisco’s own research indicates that certified professionals often earn as much as 10% more than peers without Cisco credentials working in similar routing and networking jobs.”

 
Gunaratne was recruited as a role model to the Network on Disability in 2001 as the first employee with a disability. Trained both locally and internationally to teach, promote, and develop IT skills for individuals with disabilities, Gunaratne has been nationally and internationally recognized. In addition to winning a Gold Medal at the Assembly for Women with Disabilities in Seoul, South Korea in 2011, she also received several coveted national awards in 2007, including the Keerthi Sri Lankabhimani Desha Bandu Award, the Zonta Woman Achiever, and Most Inspirational Woman on Special Skills of the Year. Gunaratne’s commitment to the betterment of the visually impaired in Sri Lanka is exemplary.

The training center is fully equipped with more than 50 devices specially designed for individuals with disabilities as part of a collaboration with Curtin University of Technology in Australia and SLIIT (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology) Malabe. The programs are also recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and within the EFC membership, which consists of 620 companies.

“The prime objective of the program is to improve the computer knowledge and networking skills of our students,” said Gunaratne. “Moreover, it aims to improve the employability of the trainees and create a group of trainers for future training needs.”

Find out how you can hire Networking Academy talent to grow your business.

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A Morning of Inspiration with Cisco Networking Academy Students

This blog was originally published on Cisco’s internal employee website.

“Follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid. Hold your heads high!”

 
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These were the words shared by Alison Gleeson, Cisco’s Senior Vice President of Americas Sales and Jordi Botifoll, Cisco’s President of the Latin America Theater, to students at a recent Cisco Networking Academy event during Cisco Live! Cancun.

The 30 students came from Mexico’s Yucatan and Quintana Roo area. They come from primarily underprivileged neighborhoods, but these young men and women are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families by pursuing careers in technology.

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Behind the Scenes with the Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team

Earlier this year, Cisco senior system engineer Josh Kittle attended Cisco Live in San Diego and had his first encounter with the Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team – a group of students who are given the chance to gain real-world experience setting up massive networks at high-profile events like Cisco Live and the NBA All-Star Game.

The Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team at Cisco Live US 2015 in San Diego, California

The Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team at Cisco Live US 2015 in San Diego, California

Josh is a former Cisco Networking Academy instructor,  one of almost 9,500 who have taught 5.5 million students IT skills worldwide since 1997. The Networking Academy curriculum is licensed free of charge to learning institutions and is Cisco’s largest and longest-running Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. Our courses provide in-depth technology training in the latest networking, security, and cloud technologies, preparing students for in-demand jobs and globally recognized certification.

Josh described the Dream Team as a way for Networking Academy students to gain “real-world experience at the logistics and execution of network design, installation, and support – at a hyper-accelerated pace.”

Read Josh’s full blog post here and learn how you can hire Networking Academy talent for your company.

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