Prior to joining Cisco, I lived the start-up life for many years.  What drew me to the start-up culture was the fact you can build and create new things all the time and work on different, exciting projects – my fear of losing that is what kept me away from companies like Cisco for so long. I wish I knew then what I know now!

I finally jumped into the Cisco Life – fear and all – and quickly found that those fears could not have been more unfounded! Cisco has opportunities everywhere, and the biggest opportunity I found was being able to stretch my career muscle by way of what Cisco calls a “stretch assignment.”

These are projects that are in addition to your regular daily tasks and outside of your day-to-day team. There’s a start and end date, there’s a job description, you indicate your interest and talk with your manager, and then off you go on a new job adventure. These help to expand your skills and talents, and introduce you to co-workers you may not have met otherwise. Consider stretch assignments a one way ticket to career growth!

My recent stretch assignment was with the core team behind Cisco’s annual #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork contest. I worked with this incredible team and project managed the campaign over a period of five months.

The team’s time together was fun, inspiring and never offered a dull moment as we came together and amplified each of our strengths to encourage our fellow co-workers throughout Cisco to share why they #LoveWhereYouWork on social media.

This was truly a cross functional team. Each of us brought our own strengths to the table. There was the social media prowess of the @WeAreCisco Talent Brand social team, spot-on communication styles of the Employee Communications team, members from our Cisco Collaboration group brought their task-management skills – I was given a front-row seat to watch and participate with these talented teammates.

The #WeAreCisco #LoveWhereYouWork core team also reminded me of how many people are doing amazing things not only in the office – but, outside of the office Cisco too.  Whether it be raising money for a non-profit, marathons, triathlons, missions, politics, and community outreach – almost everyone is up to something and making a difference in the world. I was inspired constantly by their efforts to change our world in positive ways.

We all know that, at times, being in a company of over 72,000 people can seem big and overwhelming.  But being part of a project that stretches not only your skills, but stretches you across different functions is a wonderful experience as we often get siloed and tend to work with the same people or partners. Often, even figuring out who new partners for projects could potentially be is a challenge.

I’ve learned that having a robust network is critical in a company like Cisco, and stretch assignments can help to alleviate the “overwhelming” feeling of being in a big company. Stretch assignments encourage you to meet new people, build connections, and expand your network – and, just like that, a big company starts to become smaller.

It’s wild to think that at one point I was afraid to join a company like Cisco because of not having enough exciting projects to work on that would help to grow my career. What I’ve learned in thirteen years is that the opportunities are endless at Cisco!

Want to work at a company that encourages you to grow? We’re hiring. Apply now.



Catherine Mazur

Project Manager for Employee Events

Employee Communications