When at University, we all have dreams of where life will take us after graduation.  I was no different.

As a third year student working on my graduation project, I remember standing in front of a rack stacked with Cisco routers and switches with my friend, Salman. “What if we work at Cisco one day?” I asked Salman half in a day dream…and, at the time, it was just that. A day dream.

I was asked by many, “Why Cisco?” The answer has always been simple for me. I fell in love with this company back in 2010, when I first learned about Cisco. From the moment I learned about the differences between a router and a switch, The Cisco Network Academy made me passionate about Cisco technologies. It’s been a dream to work here ever since.

Three years later, I sent a text to Salman “Guess what?” – He guessed that I had bought a new car – “No, man, I am joining Cisco! I got the job!” I completed the text with a huge emoji smile. My dream was coming true!

The secret, however, that many of my friends – including Salman – didn’t know, was that since my graduation in June 2014 – I had applied SEVEN different times for SEVEN different roles at Cisco. It took nearly two years for my dream to come true!

Three months later, my first day at Cisco began in Amsterdam at Cisco’s EMEAR headquarters. I’d be joining 59 other people from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for one year in Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP). This opportunity came at a time when I wanted to experience something more challenging, and Cisco has given me that opportunity! I then joined their workforce as an Associate Sales Representative (ASR) to cover a territory – Bahrain – virtually from Amsterdam.

There’s many reasons to #LoveWhereYouWork when you work at Cisco, but since officially joining the team, here are SEVEN (one for every time I applied) of the reasons I’ve come to love the most:

1. Flexibility: Cisco provides us with all the communication and collaboration tools to be able to do our best work from anywhere in the world. I can join meetings from my couch, draw on a virtual whiteboard from the office, and share files and information from the kitchen. Cisco brings the power of technology to empower individuals and groups to collaborate everywhere, at any time, and it is beyond words to get to experience firsthand.

2. Giving Back: Life at Cisco is not just about our work between 9 to 5 – we give back a lot too! In addition to the FIVE days Cisco gives us each year to give back to charities that mean the most to us personally, there are events that Cisco encourages us to participate in with our teams such as the Global Services Month. This is where all Cisco employees across the globe volunteer hours to support different groups and causes.

3. Follow Your Passion: Cisco encourages us to follow our passions. What’s my passion? I love bringing the power of technology to individuals, organizations, and various groups and teaching them about what we do at Cisco and why technology is important for us all. Cisco has done a lot of work internationally to empower different entities with its wide range of technology. That’s what keeps me passionate about working for Cisco.

4. Diversity: It’s no secret that Cisco is dedicated to diversity in the workplace. I am based in an office that has more than 40 nationalities, working side to side, sharing stories, and learning about each other and our varied cultures. I face the biggest challenge every time I have to tell my colleagues about something, because you can’t even spot my country (Bahrain) on the map. But we all come together in our own unique ways and learn together and grow together which, I feel, makes our company and what we do here that much stronger.

5. Supporting Gender Equality: Cisco is one of the biggest supporters for Women in STEM. Across the globe, each year, we host a day-long event – Girls in ITC – that brings young girls to the Cisco offices so that our teams can introduce them to various topics in IT and technology. This helps these young women to grow with a passion for tech and shows them potential career paths. Last year I got to be a part of this event in Amsterdam, and it was an awesome experience to see how passionate the girls were about technology.

6. Team Bonding: Every quarter we gather and organize a fun activity that will help us to bond even further outside the work space. Cisco supports each team to go out and enjoy their time together. We all love these events because we wind up growing as a team even further when we take a few moments to disconnect and recharge.

7. The Power of Mentoring: When I joined Cisco I was assigned a mentor within Cisco. Mentoring is a fundamental characteristic of Cisco’s culture. You can ask anyone to be your mentor at Cisco, and that’s what I like the most. This year I am mentoring two new ASRs and I am excited to help them learn all about Cisco, while acclimating to Amsterdam.

The range of personalities and cultures here at Cisco makes it truly a place that I want to stay at forever. Everyone here comes to the table with new knowledge and new thinking. We are a network of incredible people here at Cisco – before technology, and innovation even come into play.

I know it may seem difficult, and maybe even impossible at times, to land your dream job here at Cisco. But, please, take it from me – it may take many, many tries and maybe even years – but it really is worth the wait to be living your dream!

Want to join us at Cisco? We’re hiring!


Ali Talahi

Virtual Sales Account Manager