It has been an entire year since I’ve formally entered the world of ‘adulting’ and as a part of the globally diverse workforce here at Cisco.
One year ago, I took the risk of applying for a job outside of the placement offers that came to our college. I was adamant about seeking a position I knew I would be truly driven to pursue. Fortunately for me, it paid off.
It involved persistence and resilience, but it landed me a role I am passionate about. I am proud that I joined Cisco as a Business Analyst where I’m responsible for setting up standard discounts for all the Cisco products, services, and tools.
As I look back, I could not be more grateful for all the opportunities and learnings that I’ve had in my first 12 months. I’ve forged permanent friendships under looming deadlines and have found joy in the atmosphere of inclusion, teamwork, and workplace camaraderie.
Here are eight essential lessons I’ve embraced at Cisco that have transformed my perspective:
- “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” This really resonates with Cisco’s culture as we believe in being quietly ambitious and tenacious, while chasing opportunities we desire instead of waiting for them to reach us. Grit and determination are our driving force and help us stay passionate about what we do.
- Put yourself out there, get out of your comfort zone, and expand your circle. Enhance your experience by connecting with people who can help you grow as a person. Tackle every conversation with a goal, plan lunch dates, and hone your people skills with the diversity and contagious culture that Cisco has to offer.
- Identify your Yoda in the workplace. Your first year in a corporate community is not too different from being a Jedi in training. An inspiring mentor to look up to can show you the ropes, offer direction, and ingrain principles of leadership and people skills. Establishing relationships with your mentors and managers is an investment that will serve you well in the long run.
- Stay true to yourself. Stand up for what you believe in — as trite as it may sound. Honesty and conviction are always applauded. Cisco encourages each employee to bring their whole selves to work, so why be anyone else – but you?
- Don’t shy away from calculated risks and bolder bets. No idea is a bad idea. Trust in your intuition and speak up for your ideas! Recently in a meeting we were brainstorming on some tool enhancements. Everyone, except for me, agreed to an idea. Even though I did not have data to back up my reasoning at the time I still mentioned my thoughts, which were robust. We can’t grow without hearing from each and every voice at the table.
- Prioritize and schedule your tasks every day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your workload starts to get heavy. One of my favorite quotes by Jaggi Vasudev sums this up perfectly: “Intelligent people do what they love to do but a genius learns to do what is needed joyfully.” Prioritize important tasks, and if you are unsure what they may be – ask! Everyone at Cisco wants to help you succeed.
- Explore and expand your horizons, keep a positive attitude. Remember that you’re a work in progress. When you feel like things might be progressing slowly, remember to look back and see how far you’ve come. Each new day is one filled with opportunity at Cisco – and a positive attitude will keep your eyes on the horizon and your goals.
- Take breaks. A short walk or even a power nap can help clear your mind and tackle what was a seemingly impossible problem with renewed vigour! During quarter end, we get some challenging requests from our stakeholders to work on setting up discounts with tight timelines – this is in addition to a variety of other projects and initiatives we have ongoing. It can be really challenging to stay refreshed and on your toes as some of these tasks go late into the evening. This is when I head to our nap pods! I think of the nap pods as the “innovation lounge” and a stress buster to help my mind achieve increased productivity through rest.
All of these practises and learnings helped me to win two awards. First, the “Organisation Award for Excellence” at Cisco’s Bangalore, India campus during our Early in Career Network’s award ceremony and second, for the “APJC Elevator Pitch competition” where we participated in a group of three to pitch ideas and market why folks should join Cisco!
It was then that I thought perhaps sharing these learnings with everyone would help us all to achieve more in our day-to-day successes – while also highlight what a great place to work Cisco really is.
What are some lessons you’ve learned at work? Please share in the comments, and next time you’re in Bangalore, come say hello!
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