When I arrived at the Cisco campus in Raleigh, North Carolina I was, like most new-hires, overwhelmed with optimism and a sea of opportunity. I was also nervous about the financial risk I took on as a contracted employee and a single mother of twins.  

Those nerves, however, decreased rapidly in my first 10 months at Cisco as I shifted my focus from simply growing my network to increasing my Cisco net worth. In truth, I did not take this role because I had known of Cisco’s great pay or amazing benefits, no – I accepted this opportunity for the connections and influence I knew I could forge within my role. 

Makeda stands smiling with her peers and friends next to a Cisco sign in RTP.Just like the team I was joining; my career trajectory was heading in a new direction. No longer would I be comfortable with just doing my job and going home. I wanted to be immersed in the Cisco culture and experience everything this unique company provided. So, I quickly became a volunteer, gladly spent my weekends building relationships through serving with our Cisco Employee Resource Organizations (ERO) and networked as much as possible within the company.  

I was used to pushing past the tape and expanding my boundaries – I had, after all, worked towards my master’s degree while raising my twins. So, I was determined to push past the tape of the ‘contractor’ life too and never let fear put a timeline on when I would reach my goal of becoming a full-time Cisconian! 

To do this, I started by sliding into the DM’s (direct messages) of some incredible people I now cherish as mentors, sponsors, motivators, and Cisco sisters. Through strategic lunches and intentional stretch assignments (where Cisco employees get to explore other roles and teams within the company) – I enhanced my overall experience. I also learned so much about enjoying the journey at Cisco through these moments and connections.  

Immediately I gained the boldness of reinventing myself as I began to build a bridge towards my goals through these strategic connections. I was relentlessly pursuing my seat at the table amongst innovators, disruptors and conscious culture ambassadors. I made connections with managers, directors, and executives to gain more knowledge on how I could contribute in a greater way at Cisco. What more could I learn? What ways could I help others within the company achieve their goals? 

In doing so, the initiative I took and the connections I made – led me to my dreams becoming a reality. 

Through Cisco’s leadership and employee’s dedication to having everyone succeed, mixed with my determination to create a strategic network – I’m proud to say that those 10 months of lessons helped me to achieve that goal! I am now an official Cisconian, helping our customers as a Customer Success Manager within our Technical Collaboration Group (TCG).  

I share my experience so that you know a few things – one, as a contract employee, our badges may be different colors, but at the end of the day – we’re one team, with one goal. And two, of course, our goal is often to become full-time Cisco employees – I believe my story is just one of many that may help to inspire how to accomplish that goal. 

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