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10 Pieces of Career Advice Cisco Employees Would Give Our 20-Year-Old Selves

San Jose Intern Welcome Event Photo

Some of our Cisco employees were excited to attend a recent event in San Jose called Internapalooza, where all the interns in the area to come together, meet each other, exchange intern stories and gather information from the “older and wiser.”

I asked some Cisco employees what advice they’d give interns – or what advice they’d tell their 20-year-old selves if they could go back in time. Here are some of their replies. Be sure to tell us in comments what advice you’d give your younger self.

Here are the top 10 responses.

  1. Work to live. Don’t live to work. This would be my personal advice – something it took me a long time to learn. You need to take time to enjoy the life you’re working to enjoy. That’s not to say that you don’t work hard, but don’t let work become your life. Believe me, you won’t be 90 and think to yourself “I wish I’d have worked more.”
  1. Expand your horizons with other cultures. A common theme was “Learn another language” or “Study abroad.” Kasia Ousch, a Cisco recruiter from Krakow, Poland, said, “I would get a diploma from overseas university or spend some more time abroad to gain more of diverse perspective.
  1. Be bold! Be brave! As Senior Director of Talent Acquisition in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Kevin Blair puts it, “Don’t depend on everything learned at school, experiential learnings are key to your early success.”
  1. Take chances! Along the lines of bravery, Cisco recruiters seemed to agree that even if you think you’re not qualified for a job, apply anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? They say no? They might say “not now” or “we have something else coming up.” Cisco HR strategist Ray Leung advises, “It’s overcoming the obstacles in life that builds character.
  1. It’s okay to start small. Not everyone gets their dream job right out of college. But find a job related to what you want to do, or maybe not even related at all – every bit of experience is valuable. Amanda Darnell, from Cisco’s University Relations team suggests, “Know that you won’t get that “dream” job right away. Sometimes you have to earn your stripes. But also don’t settle for something that might lead you away from your end goal.”
  1. You’ve got to work for it. Nothing good comes easy, but hard work pays off. Silvia Spiva (@silviakspiva) from Cisco’s social media team, says to “embrace your inner action hero every day!” Her personal favorite is Sailor Mars! She also quotes “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten as an example of superhero-ness. “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.
  1. Get involved. You never know where that connection will come from. Maybe you share a fandom with a hiring manager. Or maybe that Toastmasters group will give you the introduction you need. Or, if you get an internship, a few Cisco techies suggested making the most of it! “Always be open to learn and network. There is so much to learn and so many people to meet!” says Richie Chea, a Cisco business systems analyst.
  1. Get social! There’s no excuse anymore for not being a social networker. Just do it. Find something to talk about (maybe your chosen field!) and post your thoughts about it. You’d be surprised the connections you’ll make. Current HR intern Kali Pike would tell her fellow interns the same. ““Having great social pages and networking with them is a top priority for me.
  1. Be tech savvy. Want to be in marketing? Learn a bit of code. Want to be a project manager? Learn a bit of code. Want to be a coder? Learn a LOT of code – but learn a little about different languages. Know how to download an app. How to Google an answer. Carly Enarson, a program specialist for Cisco Services University Relations, reminds you, “Take as many technology classes as possible!
  1. Do what you love! This was the most resounding piece of advice. You know that Confucius saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life?” Turns out, Cisco employees agree! “I have so many friends just out of college like myself that are miserable in roles that they just do not enjoy at all. I am so much happier in life with a job I truly enjoy!” says Ana Alessandra, a Cisco marketing project specialist.

What did we miss? Tell us your advice to your younger self in comments! Or on Twitter – follow and tag @CiscoCareers.

Plus, share these tips with your networks, maybe there’s a future Cisco-nian in your midst.

Want to check out internships or full-time opportunities at Cisco? Visit our Careers site!

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Cisco IT University Program Innovation: Leveraging Social Media to Attract Top Talent

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Are you an ambitious tech-savvy college student looking for an internship or full time career? Do you want to work for a company that has been ranked as one of the happiest places for young professionals? Then, Cisco IT is the place for you!

The Cisco IT University Program recruits college students from all over the world into Cisco IT for internship and full time opportunities. With a myriad of employers for college students to choose from, Cisco IT identified the need to innovate and explore new ways to become the employer of choice for the best and brightest of the millennial generation. This generation is leading the social media explosion today and is always connected. According to the Society of New Communications Research, 93% of people active online fully expect companies to be present in social media spaces and be willing to have a conversation with them. Therefore, the IT University Program decided to adapt to the communication preferences of this generation and enter the world of social media with full force delivering the Cisco IT experience right to their smart phones.


What does the millennial generation seek in a potential employer?

  • The ability to work on innovative projects that make an impact
  • A start up environment that is fast paced, fun and exciting
  • The opportunity to change the world

This is exactly what Cisco IT has to offer! However, college students today maintain the outdated brand perception of Cisco being the godfather of routing and switching. They are oblivious to the cutting-edge initiatives going on within Cisco IT that are changing the way we work, live, play and learn more than ever before. The natural expertise of millennials must be leveraged for Cisco IT’s game changing initiatives such as the Internet of Everything, BYOD, user experience, collaboration and mobility.


So, what does the IT University Program want to accomplish through the use of social media?

  • Create increased brand awareness among college students of the endless opportunities available in Cisco IT
  • Generate online buzz and excitement by showcasing the fun company culture

How does the IT University Program’s social media strategy meet and exceed these goals?

According to Ypulse, 62% of Millennials use Facebook and 22% use Twitter to keep up with a brand or company they like. Based on this research, the IT University Program built a robust online presence using their existing Facebook page with Twitter as a secondary communication platform. When the social media strategy was kicked off, the Cisco IT University Program Facebook page had only 200 likes with a sense of hesitance and uncertainty around the possibility of its success. Within a few short months, the Facebook page has over 1000 likes and the IT University Program has created an incredible amount of excitement internally and externally. The IT University Program’s online audience includes the company’s CIO, IT Executives, Managers, New Graduates and Interns, and even the parents of New Graduates and Interns.

Information distributed through the IT University Program’s social media channels is catered towards each one of these audiences. The IT University Program has engaged its audience and met its intended goals in the following ways:

Overall, implementing an extensive social media strategy to reach the millennial generation has been a big win for the IT University Program. Not only did it create buzz and excitement around Cisco IT externally but also earned the support and encouragement of executives within the organization. This is how the IT University Program is striving towards Cisco’s vision of becoming the #1 IT Company by innovating and finding new ways to recruit top talent into Cisco IT.


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