Andrea O’Connell was a Cisco Intern over the Summer of 2016. She shared the post with us prior to returning to school where we wish her lots of luck and success. 😊


Can I be honest? Before I started working at Cisco I wasn’t sure if this company would be the right fit. My past internship experiences had me accustomed to working with very small, close-knit companies and groups of people. To be frank, I thought there was no way that a company of over 70,000 human beings could match that intimate feeling I had previously experienced.

I was wrong. So very wrong.

Trying to describe the culture at Cisco is very hard to put into words because it’s more of a feeling. You just feel like everyone around you is excited about what they’re doing, you feel like everyone is supportive of you and glad to have you there, you feel like you’re working for a company that is passionate about making a difference.

This was evident both inside and outside of the office.

Inside the Cisco Office: Imagine walking into a completely new environment, and having people already there looking out for you. That’s what it felt like for me because of the two “buddies” I was assigned. Their role was to welcome me to Cisco, and answer any questions that I had. By aligning with the company culture, they did so much more than that.

My “buddies” met with me about once a week to talk about whatever was on my mind, whether it was work related or more personal. I was given so many opportunities to grow through my meetings with them because of the various challenges they set forth for me and the advice they gave from just having been in my shoes previously.

Another influential role at Cisco was my manager. As I worked my way through my internship, I started to gain an increasing amount of respect for her through the things I was noticing and putting together about what make her a great leader. So let me highlight a few for you:

  1. The Welcome – From the moment that my manager and I first “virtually” met, she was excited to have me at Cisco and fully integrated me into the team.
  2. The Talks – We met 1:1 religiously, however it was clear that it was an open door policy, and any time I needed an extra minute to talk, it was always accepted.
  3. The Thought – Over time, I began to understand just how much thought was put into the projects I was assigned to work on. I knew the subject was carefully crafted because it combined my experience with a new area that I was very interested in discovering. But, what I didn’t realize was how strategic the projects were in helping me learn how to tackle situations that I will inevitably continue to encounter throughout my career.

How great do these people sound? I know, I was really lucky. And the rest of the team that I worked with fostered this supportive and cultivating environment. I was just waiting to run into someone that wasn’t so great – but, that just never happened!

From top-down, everyone within my organization cultivated risk, and was never okay with doing something just because “that’s how it’s always been done.” This attitude was also implemented in our weekly “Lunch with a Leader” sessions, and carried throughout our daily interactions as a team. As a Cisco Intern you’re really shattering the stereotype of what an intern does – be ready to run and help innovate because the teams at Cisco are going to set you up for challenges, growth, and many awesome opportunities! What a great and inspiring culture to work in!

Outside the Cisco Office: At Cisco, they not only encourage you to volunteer, but they give back to the organization for each hour that you participate. Think that’s cool? Well they also have programs in place where you can take a sabbatical and focus all your efforts into a cause that you are particularly passionate about, and they offer employees five give back days so they can go out into their communities to volunteer at causes they are passionate about. Now that’s awesome!

Cisco also has many behind the scenes efforts in place to help out different communities and people around the world. I recently learned about all the work that Cisco is doing to help refugees stay in contact with their families, and how they provide women and children who have limited access to education with the tools and trainings they need to jumpstart their careers.

There is no quota, and these efforts aren’t revenue driven. Why? Because Cisco is one of those rare companies that is truly passionate about making the world a better place.

To sum it up,

  • The people are awesome
  • The work is passion-driven
  • The culture is risk-encouraging
  • The company cares about the community

So why would you not want to work here? I’m sorry, I just can’t answer that one.


Ready to take Andrea’s advice? We’re hiring – Join us!

To read Andrea’s post in it’s entirety, check out her LinkedIn post.