Everyone is familiar with the nuances of a corporate nine to five job. You get in, get out and get on with your life. When I started at Cisco in 2016, my sentiments were similar; it was my first corporate job. But after I found my footing a couple of months later, I decided to explore what else Cisco offered.
What I soon discovered was a whole other world to explore in addition to my “day job” as an Executive Assistant on our People & Communities (HR) team. I was surprised to find an entire functioning ecosystem that communicates and operates within itself, where anyone and everyone could find a place where they belonged. Now five years in, I want to share my journey here at Cisco so far.
1. More Than a Day Job… a Gay Job Too!
The first Inclusive Community I joined was Pride, a group of Cisco employees who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community or allies. I originally joined wanting to make a small difference by driving change within the four walls of Cisco. Well, one thing led to another and I somehow found myself as the Bay Area Chapter Co-Lead.
This role quickly thrust me into learning the inner workings of Cisco Pride and inherently meeting numerous people, internally and externally. Over the years (when we could) I’ve been fortunate enough to travel on behalf of Pride representing Cisco at various conferences throughout the nation. Through connecting with others, more doors opened for me, and this past year I was asked to lead a body of work driving education on what and how it means to be an ally while looking through an LGBTQ+ lens. The result was the Pride Allyship Training Program. I am so proud to have worked on this because I believe it helps educate people at their own pace, in a safe space.
During my time in the Pride community, I’ve made many friends along the way and realized that I was able to create a role for myself outside of my day to day. The role is ever evolving and continuously challenging. Knowing that I’m able to make an impact keeps me engaged, energized, and connected. Not only do I love working at Cisco, I love my ‘gay job’ too!
2. A Surprise Shared Obsession – K-pop!
As March 2020, and a new world arrived, I found solace in a decades long passion of mine: K-pop (Korean Pop Music) and all things South Korean. It was my self-medication during a stressful and confusing time.
During seas of virtual “happy hours” and check-ins, I shared how I was navigating this difficult time. I shared what shows I was watching, what music I was listening to, and what self-care routines I was doing. One day, a member on my team, Meghan, pinged me with such excitement – it was as if she discovered the 8th wonder of the world: BTS. Yep! The South Korean K-pop band who has rapidly gained recognition as one of the world’s largest groups. Her newfound obsession, and my longstanding love for this band, was a new connection point for us and changed the course of our relationship and how we would weather this time together.
What was once strictly a working relationship evolved into after-work digital happy hours, virtual late-night concerts, and a friendship that otherwise would not have come about. Cisco fosters a culture of being your authentic self and grants the ability to create strong friendships that enhance my work life and my personal life. It’s these rare and completely unexpected encounters that end up being the most beautiful. I’m grateful for this life-long friendship that has come from such a stressful time and given us something positive to share.
3. An Unexpected Family
Given the uniqueness of my role, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people across all levels of the organization and have had the privilege of working with some of the coolest people around.
Over the course of five years, two organizations and a handful of managers, I’ve encountered a plethora of personalities and characters. A unique few have stood out amongst the crowd and have found their way into my heart. Like Meghan, they first started out as co-workers, and soon evolved into friends and then low and behold, family. Cisco connected us – they gave us the space to be ourselves, and it’s there that we found our shared passions which helped those connections flourish beyond our nine-to-five.
I’ve learned so much from my Cisco family and have been fortunate enough to be able to celebrate life’s milestones, comfort them in times of hardship, and be present for everything in between.
Like the age ol’ saying from Forrest Gump – “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” Well, to me, Cisco is like a box of chocolates. It’s mysterious, uncertain, and random but the result is always sweet. There’s a certain kind of beauty in life when things come organically and unexpectedly. As I continue my career and time at Cisco, I look forward to embracing all the uncertainties coming my way; especially if that means new opportunities, challenges, and life-long friendships and family.
Ready to join our team? Apply now.
Cisco Employees – Check out the Pride Allyship Training Program!