My first day at Cisco was in August of 2020 as a Financial Analyst in Cisco’s Leaders in Finance and Technology (LIFT) program. LIFT is a two-year full time rotational program designed for new college graduates to experience working in four different areas of finance, while receiving world class training and mentorship – though our cohort would be starting our journey virtually.

I was initially very skeptical of what the virtual onboarding and work experience would be like. Personally, I tend to learn concepts better in person and felt that learning and networking through a computer screen was a substantial roadblock for me. But I’m happy to report that this transition, while it had its challenging moments, went smoother than I expected!

From networking with my peers, to learning more about Cisco, and to even completing a virtual escape room together, I was impressed by how the Cisco staff was able to keep us all engaged despite not being physically present in the office.

After orientation, we had three weeks of training for our new roles. I spent those weeks learning various tasks and skills that would be needed for me to be successful in my first rotation, while also shadowing the employee who had filled my role in the previous rotation. Webex call after Webex call, I found my footing and finally felt like I had a decent grasp of my role after the transition experience.

I might have been a skeptic at first, but through this experience, I not only realized the power of technology in keeping the world connected – I saw, firsthand, that THIS is what Cisco does! They’re the technology that keeps us all connected.

Once training was complete, I joined my team where I learned Mark L. was my leader. You learn quickly that Cisco is all about leadership, and Mark was the best lead I could have had for my first rotation. Along with our professional development conversations that were held on a regular basis, he also checked in on me routinely to see if he could help me with anything.

Mark wasn’t just a manager; he became a mentor and friend as well. I think these two qualities are a big differentiator between ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ – and they’re a priority at Cisco.

My team was also amazing. They were there for support, let me shadow them, and answered any questions I had. I learned so much from them that I’m grateful that the LIFT program placed me with such a supportive team for my first rotation at Cisco. Having now moved on to my second rotation, I can confidently say that my current team is also equally amazing!

And how is my LIFT cohort handling the challenges of virtual work? We’ve, of course, made the best of an unusual situation. We set up time each week to catch up where we talk about our highs and lows for the week and then proceed into break out rooms to talk in smaller groups. It’s given us the opportunity to grow and learn from one another, as well as connect directly.

Occasionally, we’ll get together for a happy hour at the end of the week where we play a variety of games or icebreakers so we can continue to grow our bonds too. And, if that wasn’t enough, our entire community of 44 LIFTers has participated in fun virtual activities from professional coffee tasting to Halloween pumpkin carving and even virtual workout sessions.

Now that I have also transitioned into my second rotation within LIFT, I can say my incredible experience has continued and I’ve found a place where I belong at Cisco. I’m also looking forward to my future rotations and career growth, and glad to be working for a company that truly values their employees.

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Shreyas Ramaswami

Finance Analyst

Capitla Markets - Finance LIFT Program