David Black Life at Cisco

Cisco Intern David Black shared this post with us before he returned back to school. We wish all of our interns a very successful year ahead of them!


No, my name isn’t Waldo. But when I started my internship at Cisco, I felt a lot like the character Waldo who blends into a massive crowd in the Where’s Waldo? Series, and amongst the sea of interns I knew I’d have to find a way to stand out.

When I arrived at orientation, I hit the ground running as I was quickly immersed in the Cisco culture and even made a few fast friends who I’d explore the Bay area with throughout the summer.

Post-orientation, the nerves hit. I was grouped with engineers, and although I was part of the engineering group – I did not have a technical background. I’ll be honest, a lot of what they were talking about went right over my head.  But instead of letting these nerves scare me, I let them excite me instead! This meant that I was going to have a chance to learn a lot more about engineering, but I was also on the lookout for opportunities to make my mark further.

When my team and I realized the Software Platform Group site we were working on lacked fresh content, I knew this was my chance! I began writing a weekly blog series highlighting different employees within SPG to learn about different employee’s jobs here at Cisco and their journeys of how they got to where they are now.

Throughout the course of the summer there were many key takeaways from these interviews and the people I got a chance to meet.  Here are some of my favorite tips:

  1. Say Yes to New Opportunities:

I knew my internship at Cisco was going to be different than any other experience I’ve had to date, and that’s what excited me most about it.  As I began to face new challenges, this is also when I started to say ‘yes’ to those opportunities.

You never know what may happen by simply trying something new. Ask if you could become more involved or help with other projects. This may lead to learning a new skill, discovering an untapped passion, or at the very least, strengthening your relationship with your colleagues as they begin to see you as someone who is dedicated to being a team player.

  1. Ask For Help:

I didn’t have much of a technical background before the summer started, and after a couple days here in SPG, I could see that put me at a disadvantage, even though I was in a non-technical role. I needed to up my knowledge, especially with the specific technical aspects of our business. I went to my team and asked for help. With their assistance and recommended materials they provided, I closed the gap.

I also knew that I needed to refine my writing skills. I realized unless I worked on it, I wouldn’t improve. Talking to SPG Today’s chief editor, we made a plan to guide and coach my writing process. Working together, I improved my technical skills and learned how to write to engage readers. Through asking for help, I was able to write my series on my co-workers and gain so many valuable lessons!

Don’t be afraid of asking for help. Sure, it may feel scary. But if you don’t, it’ll get in the way of your growth, and you may miss an amazing opportunity.

  1. Never Stop Learning and Adapting:

Throughout my internship I learned to adapt, and do it often, and it’s now become an invaluable skill. When you can easily adapt, you’ll be more valuable as an employee and the regular changes we experience at work (and life!) will be a little easier to manage.

Coming along with adapting to new situations, is how much you will learn. Learning is a lifelong mission. The moment we choose to stop learning is the moment we fall behind and become stagnant. Luckily for us, Cisco has a lot of opportunities to learn, from online, in stretch projects, volunteer events, on Jive communities, and so many more.

  1. Network! Network! Network!

Someone once told me to always network and build new relationships, and it was one of the most valuable pieces of advice I have ever received. Cisco has provided me with so many opportunities to meet new people and to be exposed to a vast amount of knowledge in such a short amount of time.  There’s no telling where these relationships will go in the future!

With a company as big as Cisco, there is never a shortage of people to meet, and an opportunity to expand your network.

I leave with you one last, recommendation, or maybe it’s a challenge. Go out and start a conversation with a random Cisco colleague today. Learn about them. Listen more than you talk. And build a real relationship that will last.

Are you ready to join a team that believe in building relationships? Join us!