Finding My Cisco “Den Mother”
When you start working at Cisco, you quickly realize folks here have their own language. Sure, there’s tech lingo and acronyms galore, but it goes much deeper than that. You hear, quite a bit, in those conversations that people have a “Cisco Family” – and when you first start, you aren’t quite sure you even know what that means. Maybe you’ve never experienced “family life” before in the work place, maybe you just don’t think that’ll happen to you…but, then…it all comes together and you GET what everyone means. We are more than just co-workers here.
A little over five years ago I began the interview process after graduating college, and in January 2012 I got the call – I was hired by Cisco! I found out that I would be working out of the office in Raleigh, North Carolina (affectionately known as “RTP” by Cisconians). During my on-boarding experience I realized that everyone had a local team while my team was mostly based in Cisco’s San Jose Headquarters – clear across the country. Not wanting me to feel left out or underappreciated, my hiring manager Tara Fortier hopped on telepresence and met with me right away. We had an instant connection.
Tara said of that time, “It is not often you meet someone and connect so deeply and instantly with. I remember how nervous I was getting a brand new hire, on a different coast in an infrastructure team, who had a degree in marketing! I thought, ‘Oh man, I have to make this work and make it meaningful!’”
Tara took “meaningful” to an all new level, as I look back on that meeting and think of her first words to me, “Marcello, you’re my very first college hire! So, I’m going to be more like your Den Mother and you are my cub!” And Tara was right. She was there every step of the way as I began to navigate life at Cisco.
I never once felt like I was alone in RTP, and even through some more difficult times Tara has always been available to me. Whenever I had a question or concern, I’d just ping my Den Mother and she would respond immediately. It didn’t take long for me to understand what the “Cisco Family” was all about.
A little while into my career at Cisco, I had an opportunity to move out to San Francisco – but I wasn’t sure I was ready for such a big move just yet. When I told Tara about it she encouraged me to take it and told me never to underestimate myself. So I went for the job, and I got it!
Tara’s role as my Den Mother doesn’t stop there though. When I told her I had landed the job, she was even willing to go apartment shopping for me and was sending me photos in her free time of places where I could live. Now that I’m here in California, she still takes care of me and is my mother away from home.
To this day, we have a reoccurring meeting on our calendars – neither of us usually attends the meeting – but it’s a sitting reminder to check on one other at least once a month, to look out for one another. And isn’t that what family is all about?
Love, and family, like this is special – and for it to come from your very first manager out of college? It’s no wondering why I love where I work! This way of life is a core to what working for Cisco is all about. We are truly family here, and I hope that is something every new hire gets to experience for themselves as they begin their journey with us here.
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