Sarah stands at her front door, two thumbs up for her first day.There I sat all dressed up, even in heels, in my home office. I was ready to start my first day of the Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) as an Associate Sales Representative (ASR). The beginning of my journey, my hybrid journey, started with 162 other trainees based in 27 different countries all over the world. There was no denying that something exciting was about to happen.

Did you know that the acceptance rate for the CSAP program is lower than for Stanford University? When I heard those words, I was shocked! “What am I even doing here?!” I thought. But I was also proud to be a part of such a special group of people, and now, six months later, I can confidently say that I deserve to be here just as much as anyone else, and I am loving every minute of it!

During our first days as CSAP-ers we were also told what ‘WeAreCisco’ stands for. It, in fact, means a lot of different things to a lot of different people – but it all boils down to this: it’s the heartbeat of our culture at Cisco. From being able to reach out to people in the United States or Emirates, all in one day, with just one click, to the support we receive in growing our careers – even if you’ve just started your first job at Cisco.

‘WeAreCisco’ makes me feel like I am part of something big – and that feeling has been quite special.

I have grown so much in my first six months as a Cisconian: my IT knowledge has become sharper, I’ve deepened my sales skills, but most importantly – I’ve gained a real sense of achievement. I now believe I can and will add value to Cisco in the upcoming years.

Sarah's computer sitting on a table with a Cisco coffee mug to the side.

My friends describe me as a real-life Cisco marketing tool. You could say I’m passionate, sure, but that doesn’t just come from me. The continued support of the other CSAP trainees, the managers, and the whole Cisco organisation has fueled me. Cisco has believed in me and never asked me to change. I am encouraged to be my goofy, overenthusiastic, and talkative self. Cisco isn’t just a leader in innovation, it’s a leader in creating an open and encouraging learning environment.

At first, there are all these new faces, but those faces quickly became friends – even without ever meeting them in real life. All in different countries but with one thing in common: proud to be part of this international team!

Some say it’s sad that we aren’t all together in Amsterdam for CSAP, and to some extent, I understand that feeling. But it’s hard for me to focus on the negative when we’ve had such a unique experience together – and I have no doubt that one day we will meet in person.

I can’t believe how quickly time has flown, but I still wake up every morning with a smile on my face, excited about what the day’s work will bring. It makes me eager to see what the next steps of my own career will be and what great things all the other CSAP-ers will do.


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Sarah Van Osselaer

Virtual Sales Account Manager

Global Sales - EMEAR