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Selfie of Sandra holding up a peace sign with a view of Mexico City in the background.Opening Outlook and seeing “Congratulations on your 1 Year of Service!” I stared in disbelief and gratitude as I reflected on a year of a career pivot, new colleagues, my first corporate experience, and a year doing what I loved and believed in: a year at Cisco.

To celebrate, I want to share some things I experienced along the way that I hope can make folks relate, laugh, reflect, or just have something to read while they sip their morning beverage. This goes out to everyone celebrating milestones, the budding researchers contemplating a career pivot, or anyone curious to learn about a peer across the Cisco pond.

1. If it feels overwhelming at first – that’s because it is! Be patient, and go easy on yourself.

Your first days might feel like “drinking water from a fire hose.” No matter your experience, learning the ins and outs of a massive company can be a lot — for anyone. There are new tools, faces, and places, “Is it Teams or WXT?”, thousands of products and acronyms, and the list goes on.

Anxiety and excitement might tag-team to greet you at first, but go easy on yourself and remember that everyone wants you to succeed and help you dive into what you came to do. That process is fluid, so ride the wave and ask for help along the way.

2. Networking can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

80,000 people is a midsized town in Canada, so coming to a company this large was intimidating at first! I’m a social soul who thrives on human connection and having worked mostly at start-ups, this seemed way tougher by comparison. Add the pandemic and a hybrid workplace, and imagining making new connections felt daunting. But after getting my bearings in the first months, I realized the best practices for socializing were similar no matter the company. At Cisco, one of our key values is showing up as your true self, and practicing this as often as I could, built up my courage to get out there and connect. Also, growing my network made a big difference because it expedited my learning process by giving me a chance to practice the many concepts learned during onboarding.

Additionally, networking outside my department helped connect the pieces while exposing me to different parts of the company. I’m also lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to international Cisco offices and meet people in real life. If you get the chance to visit our global offices, I highly encourage you to get in touch with local reps and take advantage of global access!

3. Remember to always be your own advocate and biggest cheerleader.

Networking can do wonders for personal development and career growth. But no matter how big your roster of connections gets, advocating for your individual needs falls in your corner. Whether tackling new responsibilities, securing resources for current projects, or pumping the brakes because you’re nearing burnout, you must go to bat for yourself. Then, your network can play a vital role in this process by providing advice, making connections, or sharing personal experiences. It’s a balancing act, so remember to enjoy learning about yourself in the process and be your own biggest advocate.

4. Track your wins, stay curious, and have fun!

Metrics, KPIs, QBRs, OKRs, story points; Cisco has many ways to track progress and accomplishments, and it can be a doozy trying to make it through six months of onboarding and acronyms. A metric I habitually tracked was my ‘firsts’: wins, mistakes, friends, events, shout-outs on a leadership call, etc., so I’d have something to look back on. Those ‘firsts’ can serve as a reminder of all the amazing work you’ve done, especially in the moments when you might feel behind. Also, leverage your curiosity to explore your interests and see what’s out there in the Cisco playground.

Sandra sitting at desk with laptop and Cisco London City sign in background.The last one speaks for itself — have fun! No matter what your role is or where your career path winds, enjoy the moments that shape your own unique Cisco experience.

Thanks to my entire Experience Research team, my leader, mentors, and stakeholder teams, my first year as a Cisconian has flown by! I’m excited for many more years to come!

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