Job hunting while pregnant is nerve wracking, and my Cisco journey began on April 30, 2018 – my due date. At nine months pregnant I had my final Cisco interview, where I somehow managed to maintain my composure via WebEx after a quick pre-interview prayer that the baby would stay put at least one more hour.

I felt conflicted about how and when to share the news that I was expecting a baby literally any minute but decided to make the call to my recruiter on round three of four interviews. What I prepared myself to hear was a dramatic pause, or at the very least, “that complicates things.”

Instead, my news was met with a quick congratulations as my recruiter then shared stories of her own children. After that, she moved on to planning my start date!

She proposed a delayed start date, to which my hiring manager happily agreed. Talk about moments that matter – I couldn’t start for another three months after receiving my offer, and Cisco hired me anyway.

We talk about moments that matter at Cisco a lot, and while that was a big one for me – it was truly just the beginning. Here are four other moments in my first year that showed me how Cisco is dedicated to not only working moms and families, but all employees, all the time.

1. My First Month: I was preparing for my very first business trip as Hurricane Florence was hurling toward my home in North Carolina. I made a split decision to bring my husband and 4-month-old daughter with me to Amsterdam. As I arrived at the conference, my VP quickly asked if my family was safe. I responded, “Well, I brought them with me, I hope that’s okay.” A colleague smiled at me and said, “Why wouldn’t it be?”

Did You Know? Cisco has a benefit called “Emergency Time Off” in the case of a sudden, unexpected situation that requires our immediate and full attention. This can be anything from a family situation to a natural disaster and is separate from our PTO.

2. Family First: Later that year, I learned that I would need to make two work trips to Barcelona in a 6-week window. Knowing this would be challenging for my family, I approached my manager with cost comparisons and a proposal to live with my family in Barcelona for six weeks, rather than making separate trips. Management agreed enthusiastically.

Did You Know? Cisco knows that we’re at our best when our work and family life are in balance, and there is an incredible volume of benefits that speak to this. From expert medical advice to child care referrals and even our birthdays off and a little gift for new additions to the family – this company understands ‘Family First’.

3. Supportive Teams: During my next business trip, my husband was unable to travel due to work, so he and the kiddo stayed home. I expressed my feelings of dread to a close co-worker who said, “It’s hard for the first hour, and then it’s actually relaxing.” I repeated this over and over in my head while kissing my daughter goodbye. It helped give me strength that I didn’t know I had.
Did You Know? Another amazing Cisco benefit that was invaluable to me during this time was to be able to send breastmilk home via the Milk Stork service, free of charge.

4. At the end of a Long Day: In June of this year, I attended my first-ever Cisco Live US. It was the fourth corporate event that my family has attended with me and returning to my hotel room every night to see my husband and daughter made each long day worth it. I know this may not work for everyone, but for me and my family – it’s been wonderful to see how Cisco understands the value and importance of our families and personal lives.

August marked my one-year work anniversary at Cisco (something I hear is known as a ‘Ciscoversary’ to employees). I am beyond grateful for this company and the support of my amazing peers and managers. I cannot imagine being a working mom anywhere else.

There’s a reason that Fortune has named Cisco the #6 best place to work. Between a thriving career and a happy family…there’s a bridge.

Want to join our incredible teams? We’re hiring. Apply now.


Alena Van Dalen

Marketing Manager

Global Service Provider