San Jose Intern Welcome Event Photo

Some of our Cisco employees were excited to attend a recent event in San Jose called Internapalooza, where all the interns in the area to come together, meet each other, exchange intern stories and gather information from the “older and wiser.”

I asked some Cisco employees what advice they’d give interns – or what advice they’d tell their 20-year-old selves if they could go back in time. Here are some of their replies. Be sure to tell us in comments what advice you’d give your younger self.

Here are the top 10 responses.

  1. Work to live. Don’t live to work. This would be my personal advice – something it took me a long time to learn. You need to take time to enjoy the life you’re working to enjoy. That’s not to say that you don’t work hard, but don’t let work become your life. Believe me, you won’t be 90 and think to yourself “I wish I’d have worked more.”
  1. Expand your horizons with other cultures. A common theme was “Learn another language” or “Study abroad.” Kasia Ousch, a Cisco recruiter from Krakow, Poland, said, “I would get a diploma from overseas university or spend some more time abroad to gain more of diverse perspective.
  1. Be bold! Be brave! As Senior Director of Talent Acquisition in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Kevin Blair puts it, “Don’t depend on everything learned at school, experiential learnings are key to your early success.”
  1. Take chances! Along the lines of bravery, Cisco recruiters seemed to agree that even if you think you’re not qualified for a job, apply anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? They say no? They might say “not now” or “we have something else coming up.” Cisco HR strategist Ray Leung advises, “It’s overcoming the obstacles in life that builds character.
  1. It’s okay to start small. Not everyone gets their dream job right out of college. But find a job related to what you want to do, or maybe not even related at all – every bit of experience is valuable. Amanda Darnell, from Cisco’s University Relations team suggests, “Know that you won’t get that “dream” job right away. Sometimes you have to earn your stripes. But also don’t settle for something that might lead you away from your end goal.”
  1. You’ve got to work for it. Nothing good comes easy, but hard work pays off. Silvia Spiva (@silviakspiva) from Cisco’s social media team, says to “embrace your inner action hero every day!” Her personal favorite is Sailor Mars! She also quotes “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten as an example of superhero-ness. “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.
  1. Get involved. You never know where that connection will come from. Maybe you share a fandom with a hiring manager. Or maybe that Toastmasters group will give you the introduction you need. Or, if you get an internship, a few Cisco techies suggested making the most of it! “Always be open to learn and network. There is so much to learn and so many people to meet!” says Richie Chea, a Cisco business systems analyst.
  1. Get social! There’s no excuse anymore for not being a social networker. Just do it. Find something to talk about (maybe your chosen field!) and post your thoughts about it. You’d be surprised the connections you’ll make. Current HR intern Kali Pike would tell her fellow interns the same. ““Having great social pages and networking with them is a top priority for me.
  1. Be tech savvy. Want to be in marketing? Learn a bit of code. Want to be a project manager? Learn a bit of code. Want to be a coder? Learn a LOT of code – but learn a little about different languages. Know how to download an app. How to Google an answer. Carly Enarson, a program specialist for Cisco Services University Relations, reminds you, “Take as many technology classes as possible!
  1. Do what you love! This was the most resounding piece of advice. You know that Confucius saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life?” Turns out, Cisco employees agree! “I have so many friends just out of college like myself that are miserable in roles that they just do not enjoy at all. I am so much happier in life with a job I truly enjoy!” says Ana Alessandra, a Cisco marketing project specialist.

What did we miss? Tell us your advice to your younger self in comments! Or on Twitter – follow and tag @CiscoCareers.

Plus, share these tips with your networks, maybe there’s a future Cisco-nian in your midst.

Want to check out internships or full-time opportunities at Cisco? Visit our Careers site!


Carmen Shirkey Collins

Social Media Manager

Talent Brand and Enablement Team, HR