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Sydney's dog, Bubba
My dog, Bubba, napping on the job

My summer internship with Cisco has been full of professional growth, opportunity, and a unique personal experience of digital connection and purpose. Rather than driving to the Cisco RTP Campus every day, I spent my summer working remotely in coffee shops, university apartments, and porch swings with my dog, Bubba. I made friends through WebEx calls with coworkers globally – from the United Kingdom to San Jose, California – from the comfort of my college town in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As I enter the final few weeks of my internship at Cisco, I am left with time to reflect on the incredible people I had the opportunity to network with, the impactful projects I got to take on, and the countless skills I learned within 12 weeks. 

Prior to my summer with Cisco, I worked in a communications role for a nationally recognized nonprofit organization, Child Care Services Association (CCSA). I loved the nonprofit world and found that I valued work the most when I could make communities better through language and writing. I was planning to continue pursuing a career in nonprofit communications when a Cisco recruiter reached out to me. I began researching the company’s values and found an incredibly strong CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) presence. CSR teams work to ensure that corporations are using their resources in ethical and philanthropic ways to aid society.  

Cisco’s work culture of giving back to communities is one of the many reasons I chose to work here this summer. Cisco uses its resources to bridge society’s digital gap through donations, technological knowledge, volunteering, and value-oriented work. Employees even have dollar-for-dollar matching donations and five paid days off to volunteer with the organization of their choice!  

Cisco’s commitment to better our world is more than just a mission statement; it is one of action. The people of Cisco, and the values they hold, are the essence of the company. Members of the Cisco family are some of the brightest and kindest people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work alongside. As a Cisco mentor once told me, “Know the basics of our technology. But also know that it is equally important to learn what people value and care about – to know what the Cisco family values and cares about.”  

This summer was an incredible glimpse into the beneficial, innovative, and philanthropic work being accomplished in the tech industry. Whether focusing on sustainable efforts internally in the social justice task force or working to end poverty through partnerships with organizations like Global Citizen, it was exciting to know that I contributed to meaningful work. 

One of my favorite CSR tasks was working with the team to learn more about how tech entrepreneurs are working to change the world with their innovative technologies through Cisco’s Global Problem Solver Challenge. I interviewed and wrote an article on a team, Blue Tap CIC, that won a second-runner up prize and received $50,000 USD from Cisco to further develop their solution. Blue Tap developed a chlorine doser that was designed to provide clean drinking water to the 1.4 billion people without access to it. Assignments like this filled each day of my internship with intentional and inspiring work.  

Cisco summer intern, Sydney Frost
One of my summer office locations

My summer internship at Cisco revealed that meaningful, purpose-driven work can be found wherever your passion takes you. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to expand my horizons and work with a global company that values growth, purposeful work, and inclusiveness. Cisco pledged to positively impact 1 billion people through its social impact grants and signature programs by 2025, and I’m grateful to to have learned more about this initiative during my time here this summer.