When I was in university, doing a Bachelor of Science and IT, I started thinking about adding networking, too. Then, I found a degree program in Australia at Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland, that allowed me to do it all. As I began to learn about networking, that’s when I discovered Cisco.

Beate Aftret and four other women in formal dresses posing in front of banner with Cisco and Data#3 logos on it.While I was working on my courses, I was also on the lookout for opportunities that would give me more experience and knowledge in the IT field. I signed up for email updates regarding internships, and came across the 4B Internship, a collaboration between Data#3, Women in Digital (WID), and Cisco. I knew it was an amazing opportunity — an opportunity to intern at Cisco!

The experiences throughout the internship shaped me in a lot of ways. Being a woman in IT can be intimidating, and my university classes consisted mostly of men. This internship — made up entirely of women — gave me insights into the industry and the confidence to see that I can do it, too. We were introduced to professionals of all ages and genders, and they each had a different story of how they got to where they are now. The exposure to real people inside the industry gave me a whole new perspective.

As a double major, I hadn’t set my mind on a specific path, but I always envisioned working in Science, IT, or both combined. The internship introduced me to roles I hadn’t even considered before, and I was able to interact with professionals from digital marketing, legal counsel, human resources, supply chain, and parts of IT that were unknown to me. An example of this was Customer Experience (CX) within Cisco, which, after learning more about, felt like where I belonged. I discovered that within CX, as a consulting engineer, you get to interact with customers to learn and understand what they need, as well as go into the technical parts of IT — it was perfect for me.

As my internship was ending, I could feel that any fear I initially had about working in IT disappeared. I had created a strong, supportive professional network. It can be so easy to think that you have to handle and know everything yourself; however, this internship truly showed me the importance of a team, and I will always have support and help. While I may not meet every qualification in a job description, the most valuable experience of this internship was how I thought of myself in an IT career and how my confidence increased. It was the best introduction to working in IT and gave me the confidence to go for it.

Caucasian woman with blonde hair smiling at the camera. She is wearing a cream turtleneck, gray scarf, and black coat.When Cisco began posting open positions, I started applying. I made it to the next rounds of interviews for solutions engineer and consulting engineer positions in Cisco Norway for the Cisco Customer Experience (CX) graduate program. Living in Australia at the time, I had to do the interviews at night, but it was worth it — the consulting engineer graduate placement was a great fit.

Since September, I have been part of the CX graduate program and have enjoyed exploring the different focus areas and getting knowledge and experience from multiple areas at Cisco. We deep-dive into the areas we need to learn about for our roles, take Cisco certifications, and work towards becoming a full-time consulting engineer, which I will be by the time you read this. I really appreciate the team and my managers. Everyone is very supportive and there’s so much to learn from them.

What I really love, though, is what brought me to Cisco in the first place — the company’s global reach. There are only two of us in the Cisco CX graduate program in Norway, but there are people all over Europe in the program working on the same kinds of things. We all met in Poland and know we can reach out to one another whenever we need support. This global network came full circle when I went back to Australia, reconnected with someone from my internship, and worked from the Cisco offices while I was there. As I move forward with my Cisco career, I’m excited to continue building this global network and see where the future and its world of opportunities will take me.

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Beate Aftret

Consulting Engineer

Customer Experience (CX)