It’s not often that I get to meet with hundreds of passionate students who are eager to learn! That was the scene at the Cisco Networking Academy Student Day this week in Chile, which was an incredible chance to meet students and instructors and speak about their future careers in technology.

The Cisco Networking Academy helps individuals prepare for industry-recognized certifications and entry-level information and communication technology (ICT) careers in virtually every type of industry. Nearly 30,000 students participate in the program each year in Chile, and worldwide the number reaches over 1 million.

This event was especially unique as it was organized by 6 Academy Support Center and Instructor Training Centers in the country, showing a true spirit of collaboration. Over 800 high school and university level Networking Academy students attended, eager to learn more about the growing ICT sector, the value of certifications, and resources to help them in their careers, such as NetAcad Advantage. The event also included inspirational panels with women in ICT and young people now working successfully in the industry.

Cisco Networking Academy students meeting with potential employers in Chile
Cisco Networking Academy students meeting with potential employers in Chile

In Latin America the gap in skilled workers is expected to grow to 35 percent by 2015. This equates to over 300,000 jobs that will need to be filled by qualified professionals, making training in ICT skills even more important than ever to help prepare students for careers. These events are a great way to get students excited about the future, and reinforce that they are entering a field with endless possibilities.

The event also served as a way to connect students with employers, as university students were invited to meet with Cisco partners to learn about their companies and hear about job opportunities following the morning session.  “These events are very valuable as they allow us to present our company to students, as well as receive resumes to fill our hiring needs,” said Carla Icochea of Coasin.

Juan Zambrano, 2013 Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders competition national and international winner
Juan Zambrano, 2013 Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders national and international winner

Apart from offering the latest curriculum, Cisco offers students the opportunity to test their knowledge in Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders, an intense, hands-on skills competition. Students compete on national and international levels for a chance to win prestigious recognition and a grand prize: a trip to Cisco Headquarters in the United States.

The regional competition for Latin America was held in the beginning of November, and I had the opportunity to meet the winner, Juan Zambrano, a student from Technical University INACAP Sede Santiago Sur in Chile. Juan won both the regional competition as well as the international competition and will be heading to Cisco headquarters in San Jose in January on the grand prize study trip, where he says he is “excited to meet other NetAcad students from around the world.”

Actually, over the past 4 years the top NetRiders winners for this region of Latin America have come from Chile! It has been a great to share the enthusiasm in this event, and I wish the best of luck to students as they move into their ICT careers.


Julie Chrysler

Program Manager

Cisco Networking Academy