This post was written by Jonathan Austin a Cisco Hardware Engineering Intern.

Jonathan posing in Cisco gear with a certificate of achievement.

I never would have thought that a company could manifest its culture in so many areas of my life, from my career, to my personal life, and to where I hope to see myself one day.

Let’s rewind.

In my 3rd year at San José State University, I was still trying to figure out what career building was and wondering if Electrical Engineering was even the right choice. While attending career fairs with no relevant work experience, I barely expected to get an interview, let alone an internship. Then, I met Cisco.

Well, I met Brent T. and he gave me a chance. He was my first impression of Cisco, and when he immediately started offering me career advice during the interview, I had to keep reminding myself that it was just an interview. Little did I know that he would be my manager for the most isolated summer of my life.

When 2020 became what we now know it to be, my life (like so many others) changed a lot. For starters, it forced me to move out of San José. Then, I was scared that I would lose my first internship. Cisco made it evident that they take pride in their interns though because they quickly adapted the program to be remote. I was ready for the summer!

As an intern (or any potential candidate), you might be wondering what could a Hardware Engineering Intern possibly do from home to make an impact?

Well, a lot apparently! In addition to my own automation project that I saw through from beginning to end, the Common Hardware Group’s Innovation Challenge was announced, where Hardware Graduate Hires, Co-ops, and Interns were split into teams with a mentor assigned to them to tackle a big problem in the span of a few days. Our team was lucky enough to have Beth K. as our mentor.

Working with her and three other incredible interns was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had! I got to research advanced technology, lead project direction, and show off my presentation ability. And to top it off, we were guided to make our solution into a Cisco Patent Application, which had my mom crying over the phone telling me how proud of me she was.

After my internship came to an end, it was like I never left Cisco and Cisco never left me. Beth and Brent continued to help me look for opportunities to return, offering to give recommendations whenever I needed them. It was this team and that summer that got my dog, Chewbacca, a song dedicated to him by Charlie Puth at the 6th Annual Global Intern Celebration.

Yeah, that really happened.

Jonathan on a Webex call with his dog in his lap.After passing an interview for the wonderful Enterprise Switching Team, managed by Chris D., I finally had my way back to the company – and community – I loved so much.

With school and work starting to transition to hybrid models, I knew it was time to return to San José. Knowing that a good friend and role model of mine, Hayden F. was moving back with some friends of ours, it all started to fall into place. Our friendship started in school with clubs, progressed into our Cisco internships last summer, and exists today as new roommates and returning Cisconians.

Brent, Beth, Haydenand so many other Cisconians like them have helped me feel confident in my major selection, career prospects and strategies, and most importantly identifying the work-life-faith balance that I should seek out for myself and future family.

I have no idea what’s in store for me after graduation in December, but what I do know is that I’m going into this next stage of life with relationships that will continue to help me grow into the person I want to be, and that Cisco won’t be leaving me any time soon.

You might have noticed that I spent a lot of time talking about other people in this blog and I can confidently say that it’s because there’s no way I would have gotten to where I am today without them and so many other close friends and family. One of Cisco’s mottos, as well as my advice to you is to, “Be You, With Us.” And I have always known to thank and appreciate those who have helped me grow.

So, to Cisco I say – thank you and “We’ve come a long way from where we began oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.”


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