Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.39.42 PMThis post was written by guest blogger Bernd Überbacher of Austria, a top scorer in the 2013 international Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders competitions. He is currently a Cisco Networking Academy student in Innsbruck, Austria and attended the first-ever “Academy Day” at Cisco Live in Milan, Italy, on January 27. 

As I’m curious by nature, I definitely wanted to attend the Cisco Live! Academy Day 2014. Just a couple of days prior, Julie Chrysler from the Cisco Networking Academy team posted in a Facebook group I’m in for Cisco NetRiders winners. We had met in early January during our study prize trip to Cisco headquarters in San Jose, and she wanted to share the information with us, so I made a pretty spontaneous decision to hop on the train to travel the 450km from my town Landeck in Austria to Milan, Italy! On Sunday I started in the morning, spent a couple of hours on the train and after some stops I finally arrived at Milano Centrale. After getting to the hotel and having dinner I didn’t do much more, because I wanted to be rested for the Academy Day.

On Monday the time had finally come: Academy Day! After walking to the Milano Congressi where Cisco Live! took place, I got my badge and headed for the Gold Plenary where the academy was held. I was surprised about how many students were there. It was the first Academy Day ever, so I expected it to be a small event, but I was so wrong… I guessed there were about 500 students, teachers, and chaperones, but I later found out that over 600 students attended!

At 10 a.m. sharp it all started. Some of the most interesting topics were about how the Internet of Everything connects the unconnected and how technologies and processes evolve, even inside Cisco, like no more “BlackBerries or laptops just for executives!” because now people know that work is something you do, not somewhere you go. You don’t have to be in an office to be productive.

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It was really cool how the presentations were made: it wasn’t just some talking and listening, you really felt like you were a part of it and after the presentations you have been thinking about how this might affect you. I spent my lunch break thinking of how the way I work could be changed, which was one of the topics and it seems that the presentation was great, if people think about it after it is finished. I guess that’s what makes professionals so professional – they fascinate you!

After lunch the day continued on with interesting topics like cloud computing, cyber security and the IoE. Sometimes a video was rolled, t-shirts were raffled or selfies with the audience were taken to keep the excitement on a very high level. I was really surprised when I was looked at my watch and saw that the Academy Day was almost over! This was bad as I wasn’t ready for it to end, but also a good sign because it showed once more that it wasn’t a boring event in any way!

During the breaks I took advantage of networking opportunities and chatted with other students. The Networking Academy Area Academy Manager Jutta Jerlich even arranged a meeting for me with Luca Lepore, Area Academy Manager for Italy and Malta, so besides hearing a lot of new stuff I also made some new connections and made new friends!

All in all it was a great opportunity and once more Cisco surpassed what I expected. Great idea from Cisco and what Cisco does for education. One of a kind!

Meet some of Bernd’s fellow NetRiders champions in the video below.