And just like that, it’s been five years. It was back in the Summer of 2018 when I had just graduated college and began my first job at Cisco. Fast forward a few years, and now I’m currently celebrating my fifth work anniversary here! Reflecting on this personal milestone, I’m penning down my five biggest learnings in my career to date. It might be a guiding light to those beginning their journeys in the workforce and at Cisco.

Selfie of Aishwarya smiling and holding a Cisco-branded mug.

1. No one knows everything.

Let’s start with my biggest takeaway: No one knows everything. This is something that took me a while to realize myself. At the beginning of my career, I used to be really hard on myself for not understanding something or being unable to answer certain questions. Over time, I realized that even some of the best leaders are still figuring things out themselves!

Not having all the answers means that you have space and potential to grow. The process of figuring things out is more enriching than knowing everything, and asking for help is okay! It shows that you are teachable, and your colleagues can be some of the most impactful teachers at work. In fact, the best things I’ve come across while working at Cisco are my interactions with many of the folks here — the employees genuinely look out for one another and want to help each other win. So don’t beat yourself up too much for not knowing something, as there’s an army out here to support you and walk you through it. After all, collaborating is what makes the overall team succeed.

2. Mistakes help you grow.

With that said, success doesn’t come without getting past a few “failures” at first. I’ve probably lost count of the number of mistakes I’ve made here, a few bigger than others. After getting past the initial disappointment of messing up, I realized that I learned more from my mistakes than from the things I did right. They taught me how to take accountability, practice humility, problem-solve, dust myself off, and move forward.

Were they really even failures then if I learnt so much? Big life lessons right there if you ask me. I guess that’s the beauty of life — we’re constantly thrown different challenges and given the opportunity to learn new lessons along the way.

3. Always be curious.

One of the most meaningful pieces of advice I’ve gotten from a mentor during my first year was to be a sponge and absorb everything. There is honestly SO much to learn, from different components of the business to specifications of your role, company culture, and more! The list really could go on. While it may seem overwhelming, remember that no one knows everything, so don’t set that unreal expectation for yourself in the first place. The curiosity and hunger to learn are the most important things that will take you a long way.

I recommend taking advantage of Cisco’s extensive learning and career services which offer many informative courses, both virtually and on-site. In fact, the company and leaders make it a point to urge employees to regularly participate — for free. Being at a company that promotes individual growth is a huge plus, and Cisco certainly doesn’t hold you back from wanting to learn new things or branch out.

Smiling portrait of Aishwarya.

4. Use Your Voice.

I’ll admit this is easier said than done, as branching out sometimes requires stepping outside your shell and interacting with new people. It means speaking up and letting your voice be heard so that folks know who you are and what you have to offer. It’s completely normal to feel afraid to share your opinion, especially when just starting your career. Trust me, though, in most corporate settings, others really do want to hear what you have to say as you’ll bring in a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Also, practice makes perfect. The more you put yourself out there and speak up, the better you’ll get at conveying your points over time. If you can move past your inhibitions and conquer your inner battles, you’ll be surprised at what you can bring to the table.

5. Have fun!

Last but not least, ENJOY YOURSELVES! Truly live and breathe each moment because time flies in the blink of an eye. The phase of being early in your career won’t ever come back, so make the most of it.

Take risks and have fun. Try new things and experiment with different paths — it’s not too late! As nerve-wracking as it may be, know there’s magic in the unknown. If you work hard and combine your passions with your talents, the results will shine brightly, and the possibilities are endless.

Are you ready to start your Cisco career? Find an opportunity now!

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Aishwarya Pasupunatla

Program Manager

Customer Experience