Young Cisco Professionals
Me (far left) and my fellow young professionals at Cisco.

The Internet is flooded with ways to succeed in life, business, happiness, relationships, and just about anything else that can be measured. A quick Google search will bring up thousands of articles from people who want to help.

As a young professional here at Cisco, I frequently catch myself wondering if I am on the right track. I’m in a HR rotational program, so I looked to other Cisco HR leaders for their advice.

1. Experience > School

“Don’t depend on everything you learn at school. Exposure to different experiences is key to your early success.”
-Kevin Blair (@kevinblair), Senior Director HR

“Be open to new things, work outside your comfort zone, and go abroad (if you can) to meet other people and see new cultures.”
-Celia Goudsmit-Gomes Veiga (@CeliaGoudsmitGV), Sales HR

Although it is more important than ever to get a degree, you can’t forget about living your life outside of school. Earning a 4.0 GPA and excelling in all your classes won’t necessarily translate to life outside of school. Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty.

2. It takes some good old-fashioned elbow grease

“Work hard in any job/role that you engage in and do everything you can to be really good at it. Even though it may not be your ultimate dream job, it will be experience that will help you become a true professional along the way.”
-Jill Simpson (@jfsimpson2), Sales HR – Canada

“Follow your gut, but know that you won’t get that “dream” job right away. Sometimes you have to earn your strips.”
-Amanda Darnell (@adarnellcisco), Recruiter

Don’t shy away from hard work or assume that everything will come to you. It might not be your dream, but if you don’t do it, then someone else will. And that other person will get the experience and earn the trust of senior leaders. We’ve all had those days of just plugging data into an excel spreadsheet… you’re not alone.

3. Know Yourself and the Company

“Figure out your strongest skills. Do you prefer work that is analytical and factual or creative and innovative?”
-Elaine McCarthy (@elmccart), Engineering HR- Europe

“Can a company offering you a job take you where you want to go in the next three years? If not – don’t waste time on the position.”
-Amanda Hobbs (@mandiehobbs), HR Development- Emerging Markets

You won’t be able to get what you want until you know what you want. Working in research will not be fulfilling if you really desire to interact with people. Although much of figuring out your goals comes from trial and error, knowing what you like and what a company can offer speeds up the process.

4. It’s okay to fail, if you fail forward

“Always be proactive.”
-Allan Zhang, HR – Corp Functions

“It’s ok to make mistakes, but learn from them and move on.”
-Janice Bergeron (@Janice911S), HR – Sales

Kermit the Frog once said that “life is like a movie, write your own ending.” The only way to get to the end is by moving forward through your own personal story. We all fail along the way, but what we make of those failures determines how our movie ends.

If you have some advice that you would like to add, please write it in the comments below. I certainly couldn’t cover everything in a single blog post!

And if you want to join the best team ever at Cisco, hurry and visit our careers site.


Andy Soluk

HR Project Specialist

Talent Brand