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In today’s digital economy, the skills people need to thrive are ever-changing, adapting to every innovation and technology that hits the market; a market that doesn’t wait for completion of traditional degree programs and the “right time” to jump in.

Born out of a commitment to veterans and transitioning military, and a desire to create a direct pathway for veterans to work at Cisco – Cisco Talent Incubation Program (CTIP) launched its first cohort in 2017.

To date, nearly 300 veterans and transitioning military have participated in the program. One such veteran was Marc Pearce, a former US Army helicopter mechanic looking to take his field experience into the civilian IT world. “After sitting down with Cisco mentors and getting an understanding of what Cisco was all about, I had to do everything in my power to work for Cisco,” said Pearce.  

Through the 20-week developmental program, participants focus on honing their technical and consultative expertise, and those who complete the program are eligible to receive a full-time job offer in select U.S.-based Cisco offices.

As the program evolved, Cisco managers looked for other untapped talent in the civilian world and expanded to include a second pool of non-traditional candidates.

This new talent pool does not require military service and tends to be military spouses, people switching careers and individuals looking to reenter the workforce after an extended absence. While no candidates have the same career journey, they all have one thing in common – they are each looking for an opportunity to change their professional path.

After more than a decade in the financial industry, Asheley Davis was pursuing her aspirations of working in the IT field when she learned about the CTIP program. Recognizing “a good opportunity for a career professional who wanted to work in the IT field but lacked the hands-on experience,” Asheley threw her hat in the ring. Five months later, with her CCNA certification in hand, she admits “changing my career completely has been scary, but the experience I’ve gained in the program has reassured me that I made the right choice.”

Since its inception, nearly 2,000 candidates have applied to CTIP, with more than 300 accepted into the training program. More than 100 of those candidates are now working at Cisco after receiving their Cisco CCNA certification.

Preparing candidates to thrive

The CTIP program is provided to candidates at no financial cost, but the selection process and time commitment are rigorous. Applicants must be willing to spend 20-25 hours per week studying, attend three onsite days, and successfully complete each technical milestone to be eligible for a full-time job offer. Once accepted into CTIP, candidates receive an abundance of resources to aid in their success, including Cisco Networking Academy coursework, technical mentorship from Cisco employees, one-on-one meetings with the CTIP program manager, study sessions, soft skills training, job shadowing, practice exams and CCNA exam vouchers.

“The day that my hand was shaken and I was told, ‘Welcome to Cisco,’ I nearly broke down in tears in front of everyone,” said Marc Pearce. “Everything that you do and sacrifice to work for Cisco will all be worth it in the end.” Likewise, Davis considers CTIP selection one of her great accomplishments. “CTIP gave me the ability to visualize and achieve my dream.”

To learn more about how the program can launch your next career opportunity, contact ctip-program@cisco.com.