Making a Difference in Corporate America
Elianna Goldstein is a Cisco Intern who shared her story with us this summer before returning to school. We hope your semester is amazing, Elianna!
For two summers in a row, I worked at small non-profits and volunteered, as I sought out that sense of high value (and subsequently not much money) from my future career path. This past summer, however, I did a 360 and went corporate when I chose Cisco.
Working at a Fortune 500 company, I struggled with some seemingly large questions:
- What value did I need work to bring into my personal life?
- What value can my work bring to others?
- Can I find value and give to others in large, for-profit companies?
As a brand new, little engine that could – in a company of more than 70,000 – I was unsure of the value that my work would ever bring to the corporate world. Even if I could bring value, with the large scope of my projects, would I ever feel the effects of my work? What is the value of an intern marketer?
It’s not uncommon for an intern to wonder how much impact they might bring to the table as they venture out into the world. But I needed to know…and I felt like Cisco might be the place to try it out.
This past summer, while I’ve seen an emphasis on data – more than data, I’ve seen an emphasis on people and two stories help me share that focus here at Cisco.
Following my first two weeks, I was put to real work with amazing adults and children as they prepared for battle (aka: The Special Olympics). As I trekked up and down the stairs with luggage in late June, laughing with my fellow interns and volunteers, Cisco showed me just how lucky I am.
Yes, I’m definitely privileged and thankful for my health, but beyond that, fortunate to work for a company that enables and pushes its employees to serve the community. Cisco is a part of the whole value train, a company with values that looks beyond short term, and seeks to establish roots and make a true difference in a community.
You are correct by the way, if you think that time alone will not achieve enough in the work that needs to be done throughout our communities. I guess Cisco thinks so too, because beyond just encouraging their employees to take the time to give back – Cisco matches its employee’s service hours with monetary donations. It’s just a small part of their mission, alongside having 100% of their employees engaged in volunteering.
They saying giving back is in their DNA, and having lived it, I can tell you, they’re right about that.
My second take away from my experience at Cisco was when I took part in the STEM speed mentoring day for young girls. The girls I spoke with questioned how Cisco could change the world, shared their ideas of how Cisco should do it, and explained how they had just learned about html coding. Already, they were on track for great things!
I had the chance to be a mentor, but these young girls were mentoring me as well. They were smart, driven, and excited, which in turn made me feel like I needed to be all of those things as I returned to work later that day. This was not an activity being filmed for PR, or a once a year event. My manager, and many other managers, are firm supporters of girls in tech and in business throughout the year as encouraging young girls with technology is a key focus for Cisco.
It took me months to realize, but stepping beyond my Cisco internship I now see:
- Everyone is nervous about feeling like a small part in a large machine. But I am learning that it is all the parts of the machine that make it unique and different. Everyone plays a part, and at Cisco that is something they live by.
- I do not have to lead a profit or nonprofit company to find value. All I have to do is work with a company, whether it is a successful and inclusive tech company, or a robust and nascent small firm, and people who share my values. We can all work together to make a difference in our world.
What I saw in my time at Cisco is that this corporate company truly does care. They encourage and enable their employees to bring together all the people of the world and necessarily parts for change. Whether they are courageous athletes, tough girl scouts, or newbie interns, Cisco believes in everyone and truly showcases how together we will move forward.
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