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. 

Ready to join our amazing teams? We’re hiring. Apply now. 


Makeda Pride

Customer Success Manager

Technical Collaboration Group