This post was authored by Ines Mateus a Customer Experience Intern from Portugal. 

I’ve always put instinct over logic, and when it comes to job hunting, I’m no different. Back in October, I sat down in front of my laptop and started the laborious task of looking for open positions on LinkedIn. Suddenly, I stumbled across a 12-month Program Marketing Internship in the Cisco Customer Experience Center in Lisbon, Portugal.

Ines working on laptop at her desk.

Apart from being named the World’s (and Portugal’s) Best Place to Work, I didn’t know much about Cisco, but my gut instinct kept shouting for me to apply – which I did. Life went on until I received a call from Cisco late one afternoon asking me if I was available for an interview. That’s when I started researching about the company and getting a glimpse of how unique the culture was.

The recruitment process was fully digital and by the end of each interview (I had three interviews, each held on Webex) – my spidey sense let me know: Cisco is where I wanted to be. During the interview process, I followed 3 simple principles to succeed. Let’s call them the 3B’s:

Be honest

Be prepared

Be you

When I found out I got the job, I was thrilled for the opportunity and relieved that I could put an end to my job search (they’re stressful during regular times, even more so in 2020!). In my first few weeks at Cisco, instead of exploring my new office with my new colleagues, I learned how to connect with people through a screen by taking part in online activities, and sharing glimpses of my personal life, and pictures of each other’s remote work experience via Webex.

Fast forward to today.

Five months into my internship, I always start my mornings by grabbing a hot cup of coffee and getting ready for work. I log in from my house, grab my notebook and write a list of the tasks I need to get done for the day. Then, one-by-one, I focus on crossing off the items and enjoy the brief quiet satisfaction that comes with it. So far, I’ve been working on several different projects, employee engagement initiatives, internal communications activities, and content creation.

 For those who might want to pursue an internship at Cisco, I’ll leave you with some advice:

Holding up espresso cup overlooking grassy hills and rocks.

1. Set up a workspace that inspires productivity. My workspace has been a work in progress for quite some time, mainly because I’m obsessed with decluttering spaces and rearranging rooms. Throughout my remote working experience, I discovered that having colorful paintings surrounding me and a set of plants near my screen really brightens up my workday and boosts my creativity (although I must admit I’ve had a green casualty here and there).

2. Work hard, play harder. This is the advice I was given on my first day. At Cisco, we’re celebrated when we work hard but also encouraged to disconnect and have fun. To break the monotony of sitting between four walls all day long, I participate in internal networking activities and coffee chats where I meet other Cisconians and organize weekly meetings with peers and colleagues to share our thoughts and experiences about our roles.

3. Overcommunicate. Overcommunicate. Overcommunicate. Building relationships through a screen and navigating ambiguity isn’t an easy task. For now, I don’t have the benefit of peripheral communication that comes with the office environment nor can I see how my coworkers are feeling. That’s why overcommunication plays such a big part in my day. By overcommunicating, I don’t mean oversharing or overloading somebody’s email box or Webex space but rather regularly delivering important, straight to the point information.

4. Leverage Cisco’s (many) resources. Whether it’s for work or for fun, there’s a lot to choose from. Workshops. Challenges. Talks. Panel Sessions. Trainings. Certifications. Taking part in these initiatives is a great way of staying up to date with technologies, developing your soft skills or just staying engaged and experiencing Cisco’s vibrant culture. I’m particularly fond of talks from our Women of Cisco Inclusive Community, a global community that celebrates talented women as part of a competitive and diverse workforce, and ETC Portugal (Emerging Talent @ Cisco) activities, an inclusion & collaboration community that aims to bring together Cisco’s new talent.


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