Earlier today, students from 13 different countries met for the first time on Cisco’s San Jose campus. For some, like Odwa Yekela, the visit is a first adventure away from home in South Africa. For others, like Richard Brunner, it’s a simple two-hour drive from Sacramento, California. No matter where the 18 students came from, though, the visit is more than just a trip — it’s a life-changing experience and celebration of their achievement as global winners of the Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders Competition.

The NetRiders winners took a tour of one of Cisco's data centers on their first day in San Jose
The NetRiders winners were excited to visit the Cisco campus and learn more about potential careers in the IT field

Current and recent Cisco Networking Academy students can compete in NetRiders, an interactive networking skills contest from May to October that motivates students to pursue future education and training in the technology field. During the competition, students take a timed theoretical exam, a Packet Tracer exam, and participate in a network simulation activity — hands-on challenges designed to put their knowledge of Networking Academy curriculum to the test. This year, more than 10,000 participants from 111 countries competed, and the top scorers from 4 international competitions were awarded with the grand prize — a week-long trip to visit Cisco’s main campus in San Jose, California and learn about potential careers in the Internet technology (IT) field.

Students from countries like Colombia and Greece listened as Nick explained the configuration of the data center
Students from countries like Colombia and Greece listened as Cisco’s Nick Choy (far left) explained the configuration of the data center

This once-in-a-lifetime trip gives the winners an amazing opportunity, where they’ll get to see everything from Cisco’s state-of-the-art technology centers to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Today, they eagerly followed Cisco employee Nicholas Choy through a maze of flashing lights and bundled wires, taking pictures with each excited step in one of Cisco’s main data networking centers. But, the most rewarding part of this week may be the students’ chance to “network” and build lasting relationships with career role models on Cisco’s campus. The connections they make with Cisco engineers and the Networking Academy staff this week may lead to exciting new internships or career opportunities in the near future.

This year’s winners traveled thousands of miles from all over the world to be here and spent hundreds of hours preparing for the NetRiders competition. Though they arrived as complete strangers, they’ll leave San Jose as lifelong friends, connected by technology and the memories from the trip of a lifetime.


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco