Small Town to Silicon Valley – From Cheers to Cisco
You know the show Cheers, “Where everybody knows your name?” That’s just like Huron, California – where I grew up. It’s one of the great things about living in a small town – everybody really does know everybody, and growing up in a small town really did shape my future in many ways. But I had dreams of something a little larger too…a little something we like to call Silicon Valley.
I was different from most kids my age. While other’s wanted to play sports, watch TV, or ride bikes – I was the kid in the 80’s tinkering with computers and video games. We had a Commodore 64/128 with no internet. Once I was bored playing all the games it had, I picked up the computer’s user manual. Simple experimentation led to my strong interest in computers and technology today.
When I found one of my dad’s computer magazines – I started reading about the Internet. I would read stories of people connecting from one place to another, they could message each other! Then I saw the movie War Games, and the rest was history.
I wanted to be ONLINE.
In 1993, I got my first taste. I was in the 7th Grade and our library’s computer was finally setup for dial-up. We were the first ones in town entering cyberspace! Netscape was the browser and nobody had a clue of how to use it. I took the lead among my peers, and showed them the way. I typed in the complete web address for Yahoo, and it took minutes (yes, minutes) for the webpage to completely load up.
It was then I knew I wanted to work in the computer field.
I took a different path than most. At 18, instead of going to college, I joined the United States Navy and worked in their Advanced Electronics Computer Field. What I learned from the Navy was how to be accountable, dependable, and remain motivated. I then took my wide variety of skill sets and went back to college to earn my degree in Computer Networking.
I completed the Cisco Academy in Fresno, and always imagined myself working either for or with Cisco products. It didn’t happen overnight, but I kept working towards my dream.
One day I got a call telling me that there was an opening for a project manager on a Cisco account. A quick interview turned into an hour long conversation. Then I was relocating in just 3 days for a new opportunity.
Almost a year later, and after a simple post on Instagram, I’m being asking why I love working for Cisco so much. First and foremost, I love the team spirit of Cisco – I am constantly fueled by the energy of those around me. It makes me work smarter, plan better, and provide better service. Sometimes I work long hours but it doesn’t feel like I do because I truly love what I am doing, and the team I am a part of.
Time flies here and that goes with everything in life that I love. It feels like I’m just helping a family member, and Cisco feels like a big healthy family. I love that Cisco trusts me with the flexibility to work the way I work best, and I love being able to speak my mind appropriately with other business professionals. I love that I’m able to use all my varied skill sets, while sharing knowledge with others to enable their personal and professional success. I can really go on and on!
The best move I made was putting myself out there and jumping on the opportunity.
So how does one transition from small town living to Silicon Valley tech life? Well, it’s a journey. Here’s some advice I’d like to pass along:
- Maintain a positive and professional attitude, always. This goes a long way, day after day. Sometimes we can have things going on at home that can be stressful, but knowing how to deal with these issues at home and not bringing them to work is key. If this is something that is affecting your work, talk with a trusted supervisor.
- Be open and honest. Share experiences, give advice, and support to your co-workers and their decisions.
- Go the Extra Mile. Clients and customers love feeling appreciated. This also helps co-workers to trust you
- Think Outside the Box. Brainstorm with your co-workers, don’t be afraid to throw out an idea you have. Someone else might be able to build upon that idea – that’s how innovation is fueled!
- Learn from Your Mistakes and Be Accountable. Cisco allows their employees to fail forward. Learn from your mistakes, and be accountable. This is how you build trust, not only with your co-workers, but everyone in your life.
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