Joining Cisco as a Software Engineer meant more to me than a job; it meant the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of being a part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to serve as a template for young people like me from a humble, under-represented background – who are pursuing relentlessly – their American dream.

Stephen sits at his desk holding a Cisco mug.

I’m the fifth child in a family of six. My mum is a trader, and my late dad was a photographer, both running a private business enterprise in Nigeria. They worked hard to give me and my siblings the best education they could afford.

My first access to a computer was at my dad’s photoshop at age seven, and I would help with his printing work using Microsoft PageMaker and Photo Deluxe. The idea of owning a personal computer was never in view, let alone working at a company that helps computers communicate. I was one of the last users on my dad’s Windows 98 desktop computer before the millennium bug struck. They thought I “spoiled” the computer.

Fortunately, that incident and the sight of a stacked collection of faulty computers at the engineer’s shop sparked my interest in computer engineering. I excelled in math and sciences from my primary school through post-secondary education. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I decided Computer Networking and improving the way computers communicate is what I wanted to do in my career.

I first thought about joining Cisco in April 2016. I was ready to take the CCNA exam when Cisco announced the release of a new version of the exam. With the #EarnIT hashtag trending on the Cisco Learning Network, I was prompted to wait to take the new exam. Although it literally meant a start over in terms of preparations, I was eager to learn about the newest technology solutions introduced by Cisco in the study guide.

Luckily for me, Cisco’s CCNA 200-125 study guide included, for the first time, network programmability and software-defined networking (SDN). I was intrigued to learn from the guide, the introduction of a software controller that provides a form of centralized management for data center networking infrastructure, which gave applications easy access to resource pool and speed up application deployment. What I took away from the few pages that summarized SDN in that guide was that my software skills would be needed to solve future networking problems.

Stephen stands next to a statue.

That was the defining moment for the next phase of my career and so I continued to develop both soft and technical skills to match what I envisioned would be needed to function in that space. I enrolled in a master’s degree program in computer science at Prairie View A&M University, Texas, in January 2019 and continued to work on related projects in graduate school. At every opportunity I received to share my interests with someone, I would talk about SDN and Cisco. I had a strong determination to be a part of Cisco in the future, but little did I know that the future had started the moment I conceived the idea.

Five months after my post-graduate studies, I had stacked multiple rejections from different organizations at different interview stages. But on Sunday the 11th of April 2021, right after receiving yet another rejection letter and feeling frustrated just before going to bed, I returned to Cisco’s website and turned in my application to become a software engineer. To my ultimate surprise, I got a call from the talent acquisition team the next morning to have a quick sync over the phone, after which I received an invite for a technical interview. I was both shocked and excited that I was in the applicant pool at one of the World’s Best Workplaces.

I felt new energy build up in me, and I was ready to give this opportunity my absolute best. I wound up interviewing with Cisco for the rest of the month as multiple teams had shown interest in my application. My interviews went smooth, and I got an offer from the Cloud Networking Team as a Software Engineer to work on Cisco’s ACI Platform.

My experience since joining Cisco has been beyond amazing. Cisco is indeed the best place to work. The company allows me to focus on getting my job done, while my needs are also taken care of. My onboarding experience was awesome, and I love that my manager swiftly moves to action regarding my welfare, providing resources and an enabling environment to help me thrive.

I now work with some of the finest professionals on the globe: my amazing team and manager. I have experienced first-hand Cisco’s people culture, connected, and made tangible contributions to Cisco’s ACI. All while working remotely. I’m most grateful to my team for making that possible.

After a long search, I’m proud to say that Cisco is home.


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Stephen Agunsoye

Software Engineer

Data Center and Cloud Networking