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On the Floor at Grace Hopper 2015

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Heading into a conference, you never know what to expect. Heading in to my very first Grace Hopper Celebration conference, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m relatively new to Cisco, and I knew that we were there to show our talent for disruption. What I didn’t count on was seeing up close a side of Cisco that the world may not know about.

The trade show doors swung open on Wednesday evening at 5pm, and the crowd of women in tech – thousands deep – rushed in to scout out the booths, epic swag, and network. There were at least 15 attendees from Cisco there to welcome them with open arms. As someone who was all but raised in Orlando, Florida I can tell you that the equivalent to this experience is Disney World on Christmas Day. As far as the eye could see? A crowd existed. Everywhere you turned? There was someone to reach out to and talk with. Opportunity was everywhere.

In addition to some powerful motivation from key speakers (including a NASA Astronaut!) the highlight for me was meeting former Cisco interns, prospective Cisco interns, current Cisco employees (including these strong women!) and friendly faces from other companies who admired what Cisco was doing.

We were there to inspire these women in tech to reach new heights. One of the conference slogans was “Our time to lead” and you could not only see the excitement, but feel it. In the midst of the action, was where you could find the Cisconians. The booth glowed, literally and figuratively, and everyone was buzzing about just how awesome Cisco represented.

Casie Shimansky at Grace Hopper.

Casie Shimansky at Grace Hopper.

This is Cisco?!” a former Cisco intern admired, “This is incredible!” She turned to a friend, “I’m so proud of them!” and then turned again to show me her Cisco backpack, “I loved interning with you guys!”

Maybe she hadn’t yet learned what I knew. That Cisco has a new passion for disruption and for showing up differently. A passion for making sure women in tech have a voice in the industry. And the “cool” factor of a new CEO, a new leadership team, and a renewed excitement by employees.

Our booth was an eye-catcher filled with clean whites, brilliant blues, and a warm, bright feel. We featured a glowing statue, which we affectionately call “Penelope” as a representation of our strong tech-savvy women. Executive meet and greets and Innovation Cafes featuring Cisco’s many specialties from IOT and even a WebEx session with employees that couldn’t be there in person also kept the energy sky-high. We were also designing customized screen printed t-shirts onsite with a little help from our friends at the OMG Bus out of Houston, Texas.

At any conference, bringing a “swag bag” is a good idea, because there are giveaways everywhere. But the swag at the Cisco booth was what everyone seemed over the moon about. Those customized screen printed tshirts drew lines sometimes an hour and a half long. But no one seemed to mind. While standing in line (which attendees said was “worth it!”) many continued to network with new people.

We were there to inspire these young women, but you know what? They inspired me. And Cisco inspired me all over again.

I’ve worked for a lot of great companies before Cisco, and yet I’ve never had an experience quite like this one. Everyone I spoke to between Wednesday night, and even waiting for my flight back to Orlando Friday evening (as women from the conference spotted my Cisco t-shirt), had some out-of-this-world praise for us. The company pride I felt for Cisco put me on cloud nine for days, and I think it helped us to make a lot of new friendships for the future.


Interested in joining Cisco’s future? Check out our open positions!

Miss some of the GHC action? You can see highlights from this Storify.

We also shared our experience from the floor on Instagram! Give us a follow.

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6 Reasons Interning at Cisco is the Best Idea Ever


Recently after his experience as a Cisco Intern, Naman Bhatt shared with his LinkedIn audience what it was like to work for “one of the best companies in the world.”  We loved his story so much we thought our readers on the Life at Cisco Blog would too!  

Before my summer internship at Cisco, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my career. I went to the Engineering career fair at NC State University in my junior year where I met my internship program manager and was introduced to Cisco internship opportunities.

At first glance I was already excited as I read the description, “Now Hiring: World Changers!” I knew that I wanted to be a part of a company that made the Internet what it is today, and having an opportunity in front of me where I could contribute to the way the world works, lives, plays, and learns by connecting the unconnected was really thrilling.

After several video interviews, I was able to successfully land a Network Consulting Engineer internship at Cisco. Here are a few key take-aways I experienced in my time with Cisco:

  1. Cisco Values Its People: I knew I wanted to be involved with a company who had a great culture. Company culture attracts great talent which tends to create great success. This is one of the biggest reasons I find Cisco to be so successful as their “People Deal” defines the story of who Cisco is, what they do, and where they’re heading. From the internet of computers to the internet of people and now to the internet of everything, Cisco technologies change the world. But the edge doesn’t just come from technology, it comes from the people too!
  1. Giving Back is a Priority: I wanted to work at a place where people believe in giving back to the community, and I discovered that Cisco RTP employees volunteer on regular basis at the Durham Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Volunteering with other employees, managers, and even the director himself helped me to feel that Cisco really put an emphasis on giving back and was somewhere I was proud to invest my time in.
  1. Interns are Encouraged to Lead: Even though I was only an Intern, I was given responsibilities that had a direct impact on Cisco’s customers and business. This may sound scary, but it’s actually really exciting! This is where the real life work experience comes from, and having the opportunity to work in a fast paced, high impact environment where I could directly contribute to the success of Cisco’s customers was something I am very thankful for.
  1. New and Prospective Ideas are Always Welcome: During my internship, I was expected to continue learning new technologies, while studying and passing Cisco certification exams. With enough resources provided, everyone is there to help you out, but it depends on you and how you utilize those resources to gain the full experience out of your internship.
  1. You Can and Will Learn from the Best: I worked closely with Cisco’s brightest engineers to provide high quality service to customers and to solve network problems that cross a broad range of technologies. While working with these engineers, I received in-depth training that built my technical and soft skills. I had the opportunity to participate in global leadership discussions with various executives across the business, and even had the opportunity to present an end of year project to Cisco leaders.
  1. These are Exciting Times: During my internship I was present for some of Cisco’s historic events such as the Cisco RTP 20 Years Celebration, the new CEO announcement, and Cisco Rocks where we celebrated John Chamber’s 20 years of leadership and welcomed our new CEO Chuck Robbins. The interns also got a chance to talk to both John and Chuck where they welcomed us, discussed the company’s vision & strategy, and answered all the questions we had. Interns having access to Executive Leadership isn’t something most companies offer, but then again Cisco is not most companies.

Looking back on my internship, I knew I wanted to work for Cisco, but I didn’t know why. Initially, I was scared because I was the only one in my team with no networking background. I would encourage young talent to apply for a job or internship that you might not have previously considered – take risks and try new things! The only way to grow and learn is to step outside of your comfort zone.

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Cisco Intern: From Homeless to Helping Others


Tia Pope loves being a Cisco IT Engineering Intern, not only for the opportunity it gives her, but for the opportunity she has to share her story with young girls just like her to help excite them about technical fields. And boy, does she have a story!

Tia was raised in a single-parent family with seven siblings where they moved around a lot and were even homeless for a time.  Often, her education was secondary to ensuring her younger siblings were taken care of after school which left her with very limited time to complete her own homework. There were very few encouraging figures in Tia’s life as a child and frequently she was left to learn by trial and error, yet she was determined not to let her circumstances define her and continued to persevere.

Tia excelled in IB and AP level programs that were, unbeknownst to her, putting her on the right track for a higher education.  After graduation she thought she would simply join her siblings working on an assembly line – that’s where she was wrong.  A high school guidance counselor called her into his office one day and showed her a list of colleges that wanted to give her scholarships and enable her to continue her education due to her incredible GPA and time on the track team.  Prior to this moment, Tia wasn’t even aware of colleges beyond the technical school in her local community.

“I knew I wasn’t any of those things that others said I was – I wasn’t stupid, or lazy, or irresponsible.  So even though they discouraged me with those words, I didn’t want to believe them.  I had a dream and I knew not to ever give up on that dream,” Tia asserted.

Tia was living in a laundry room at the time she decided to attend the University of South Carolina for Civil Engineering, and took that acceptance letter to refuel her passion and ignite the direction of her future.  She was going to do something with her life!

Even in college, as the seemingly lone-female in predominantly male courses, Tia was given grief with a professor who even proclaimed that he “didn’t have to teach her” as she was already behind her classmates.  Again, Tia accepted the challenge and walked away with the second highest grade in the class.  On the verge of dropping out due to lack of support and guidance, however, Tia was then encouraged by her Dean to change her major to IT after she had helped to fix his computer one day, not even realizing who he was.  She took his advice and later, upon graduation, received 27 job offers in the midst of a tech boom.

Tia took the role that perhaps was not the shiniest, however it was where she knew she would learn and grow the most within the industry.  She became a Process Control Engineer and though she had no academic or professional background in this position, she was promoted four times in two years and became a Lead Engineer and managed multi-billion dollar, continuous improvement projects.  This lead to even more doors opening for Tia as she wanted to expand her knowledge even further.  She applied for grad school at Georgia Tech and is now working on her masters in computer science, which landed her an internship with Cisco.

What drew Tia to wanting an internship with Cisco was seemingly simple, of course, she loved Cisco’s products, but beyond that she loved the culture and dedication in giving back to our community, “I haven’t met another company that compares, yet,” says Tia. “There are a lot of cool tech companies that computer science students can choose.  I’m interested in security and networking, so that makes Cisco a prime candidate.  But this is the place to be!  Culture is what makes you want to stay with a company and build your entire career.”

Tia also loves that she’s been able to go to several schools and talk to young children about Cisco and what we do here.  It’s brought back memories of where she has been, and continued her passion into where she is going. She says many of the children aren’t quite sure about the tech industry but when they finally learn a little more about it and can understand how they can make an impact it truly opens their eyes.  Tia loves teaching the community about tech, but also how to gain further knowledge and opportunities in connecting and applying that knowledge.

She began a Google community called Nerdy Bones just for this very reason. What started as a way for women in tech to connect has now become a group with over 100 members that was recently designated as an official Georgia Tech campus organization that inspires both men and women to chase their dreams in the tech industry.

As Tia finishes her internship here at Cisco and heads back to complete her masters at Georgia Tech she is looking towards the future, and while she hopes to return to Cisco someday as an employee, she knows she will take forth the skills and attributes she has learned here.  She will continue to give back to her community, and empower and encourage women in computing and technology and the passions they possess.  Her advice to future interns?  “Don’t give up.  There is nothing that you cannot do, and you are capable of learning it all.  It is not impossible to learn.  Search out opportunities to grow – don’t just ask for help, go out there and find your own answers.”

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How Can One Cisco Intern Impact the World?

When I arrived in early June for my 12-week internship in Cisco Corporate Affairs, I began to read You + Networks = Impactx everywhere on the Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) website. For me, it was just a tagline – part of a marketing campaign for Cisco CSR.  I didn’t understand it, and wasn’t sure if I completely believed it.  It wasn’t until I became a part of the Cisco CSR family and plugged myself into the equation that You + Networks = Impactx became much more than a tagline; it became the heart of my work at Cisco this summer.

During my 12-week internship, I learned how human and technology networks can multiply impact on people, communities, and the planet.

During my 12-week internship, I learned how human and technology networks can multiply impact on people, communities, and the planet.

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The Intern’s Perspective

“Am I just a very small fish in a big pond?” – That is what I originally thought when I first joined Cisco as a Public Relations Collaboration Intern. Turns out no one bites here, which definitely has helped the process while I have been attempting to get settled in. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. Instead of “Hey intern, do this for me,” I am asked, “Corinne, can I help you with anything or do you have any questions?” It is reassuring to know that I am around genuinely good people beginning my, as I like to call it, “adventure” here at Cisco.

After getting settled in with all the gizmos and applications on my one of a kind ThinkPad, I finally have a routine when I come into work. My mornings consist of reading, lots and lots of reading. From press releases, to news articles, to tweets … anything related to technology or social media I will most likely know about it. I’ve noticed most conversations don’t involve people’s input on the Kardashians or how the next Twilight is going to play out, so Cisco’s Newsroom has become one of my new best friends here.

Once my brain has reached overload, I usually have meetings or my kind colleagues will invite me to meetings to sit in on. I’ll catch myself looking like a “deer in headlights”  at times because all I think about is, “Hmm…what did that acronym stand for, I better write that down” or “I wonder why Telepresence originally had an upper case ‘P’ but is now changed to a lower case ‘p’”. To be honest, during the first PR meeting I ever sat in on I thought they were talking about the show “Futurama” on Comedy Central for a half second until I realized they were referring to something else. Thankfully, I haven’t asked too many dumb questions because they keep inviting me, which has been a great learning experience in order to become more familiar with how the Cisco Public Relations team works.

After lunch, I’ll work on the projects I have been given. I am no Greg Justice, but I try to be as creative as possible when deciding how to execute these assignments without looking stupid. I’ve never made so many to-do lists in my life, but hey, it works! Stay tuned on what I’ll be working on throughout the summer. This includes more external and some internal blogs, strategic analysis presentations on our company and the dark side AKA our competitors, as well as some fun and informative videos.

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