When I was offered an internship at Cisco Ireland as part of my university degree, I wasn’t sure what to expect – would I be bored, would I be stressed, or would I be welcomed and thrive in my new environment?

I had to wait four months between when I accepted my offer to my first day. So, that was four months of cramming and coding to finish out my semester, with an extra strong side of nervous energy about what my new working environment might be like. Stereotypical responses like, “You’ll be fine” and “You’ll have a ball”, and “Enjoy College while you can” – well, those didn’t particularly help either.

And then my first day at Cisco arrived.

From the moment I first arrived on site at Cisco Galway, however, I knew it would be an internship like no other. Almost instantly my nerves vanished.

The bright, open spaces and use of colour immediately had an impact on me. Almost everyone had their desk customised in some shape or form: with photographs, action figures, posters, and even county flags! One thing I feared about joining the corporate world was the lack of individuality you often see in the movies and on TV: everything is a cold grey colour and “modern” looking; everyone’s the same, there’s no personality.

This is NOT the case at Cisco!

Employees roam the halls here happily and you can tell they’re wearing what they’re most comfortable in – for some that’s suits and bowties, for others it may be more casual and relaxed.  But everyone is comfortably themselves – and we’re embraced for it! Our individuality and personalities are seen as an asset to our teams and the innovative technology we’re working on, and I can see this ability to be yourself in the work place also helps everyone enjoy their work even more.

Imagine my surprise when, in my first couple of weeks, I was brought into help my team and given real coding problems. This was something I was not only surprised by – but also truly delighted at. I’ve heard plenty of stories from friends who are interning at various companies on how the management won’t trust them with anything. With the knowledge that Cisco was different – I couldn’t believe how nervous and apprehensive I had ever been to start! I am now constantly excited and anticipate the next day – and even look forward to Mondays rather than dreading them! Who knew you could love your work week just as much as the weekend?

You don’t have to travel too far through the halls of Cisco to know – many of the Cisconians (the fun nickname Cisco employees give themselves) feel the same exact way about Mondays now.  J

As a result of my experiences at Cisco Galway, I wasn’t surprised when I heard that we won first place in the Great Place to Work awards for Ireland. Seeing the effort that the team put in, and how everyone around me can have a laugh and really enjoy their working day – it truly is one of the greatest places to work! Along with the recent celebration of 10 Years of Cisco Galway, the party seems to never stop!

I’ve quickly come to appreciate where I’m working, and am always trying to make the most out of my internship. From the colourful lobby, to constant fun events taking place and the happiness of everyone around me, I can honestly say I’m going to miss it when I go back to university to finish my studies, but I am so glad to have had this experience and value the knowledge Cisco has given me throughout this journey.

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