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I graduated from college in 2020 – far from the ideal situation, and without the traditional pomp and circumstance. One moment we were gearing up for a monumental life moment, with the traditional celebration of graduation. The next, well, we were thrown into a world unlike any other before this time.

For me and my friends, searching for work wasn’t easy. Offers that had been extended prior to graduation, were being rescinded amidst the uncertainty, and the months of searching led to few interviews, and no offers. An already competitive job market now seemed impossible to crack into. For me, that all changed when I found a job posting for a Marketing Coordinator through a recruiting agency.

And as my luck would have it, that role was with a tech-giant and a highly desirable company on my wish list – Cisco! It seemed too good to be true. I even inquired with the recruiting agency if this Cisco was THE Cisco. Having been through interviews that wound up being ‘too good to be true’ – I was afraid to get too excited. I told myself that I would simply take the interview for practice and got to work preparing.

I surfed Cisco’s website to learn more about their business, made sure to grasp the company’s mission, and researched The Gateway, since it seemed like that was going to be the role’s main focus. Here I discovered that it was a peer-to-peer customer networking community with a focus on gamified “challenges” and active social media engagement. I knew the skills I had developed while previously managing clients’ social media accounts would translate nicely here and got a little more excited – but was still cautious.

The day of my interview finally came and let me tell you, I was nervous! I met with Valerio B. from Cisco’s Global Advocacy team, and he immediately put my nerves at ease. Valerio told me about Cisco and about what his team envisioned for this role. It sounded like an awesome opportunity. “Uh-oh.” I thought, becoming more excited about the role and now suddenly like I hadn’t prepared enough. “What if there was a detail I missed on the website that I should know?”

Luckily, at Cisco, it’s not expected for you to know everything on your first day – or, in this case, during your interview – and I knew I had relevant, unique experience that might help me make a good first impression. I also felt like Valerio saw something in me that I hadn’t seen in myself during the past few months of job interviewing rejections. My Golden Retrievers even walked into the frame – perhaps helping my chances. 😉 As we finished the interview, he told me that he wanted to set up another interview and invite his manager, Cristina M.

I expected my second interview to be tough and stressful. However, just like with Valerio, Cristina was friendly and interested in learning about my passions, experience, and insights. I told them about my interest in marketing strategy, consumer behavior, and social media. I explained why I thought each of these interests and skillsets would translate well into working on The Gateway. I remember Cristina saying that she was excited to hear my insights and opinions “when you join us.” When I join them? I couldn’t have possibly heard that right!

The interview ended and within a half hour Valerio called to tell me I had the job.  I went from having almost no job prospects to being employed at a leading technology company that is invested in my future!

Nic standing on a bridge in cap and gown

A few weeks later, it was my first day at Cisco and I was nervous to begin working remotely. I didn’t want to just be some guy sitting at a computer halfway across the world from most of my teammates. To my surprise, the people at Cisco and especially those working for Cisco’s Global Advocacy and Americas Advocacy teams, were so welcoming and supportive. I immediately felt like a valued part of my team, empowered to use my skills and insights to make a real impact on the business and our customers.

Since joining Cisco, I’ve been involved in Customer Advocacy projects that allow me to execute in a big-picture, strategic way. I also get to interact with our customers on a one-to-one basis every day. I know gaining visibility and experience in this way is unique, especially in B2B marketing, and that it will help lay the groundwork for my career growth.

Surrounded by teammates and managers who genuinely want to help me grow and succeed, I’m confident in my professional future. It is already apparent that there are countless ways to grow and advance within Cisco, and my next opportunity may be around any corner.

 

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