The first time I learned about Cisco’s Veteran Talent Incubation Program (VTIP) was in the fall of 2018 when my husband approached me and told me that he wanted to quit nursing school to pursue this program instead. I won’t lie, in the moment it seemed like a wild card. Our daughter was just a few months old and I had already put my degree program on hold to take care of her. Was this the right decision for us?
Looking back, I can say his joining Cisco’s VTIP was the best decision we’ve ever made as it not only elevated his career – but mine, too!
The Veteran Talent Incubation Program (VTIP) is an intense twenty-week program that develops the technical and consultative skills of veterans who are returning to civilian life. Upon completion, each participant is eligible to receive a full-time offer as a Cisco Technical Consulting Engineer.
And that’s what happened to my husband! After months of studying, he completed Cisco’s VTIP and was offered a position on the Customer Experience Academy (CXA) team. We were officially a Cisco family! Along with his role, came a sense of pride in the community that we were now a part of, and had the opportunity to help build and support. And, although our plan was to have me finish my bachelor’s degree, I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to do something more.
So, in summer of 2019, I approached my husband with an idea – what if I worked at Cisco, too?
We were both immediately excited about the possibility of me joining him at the company that had already elevated our family in so many ways. When we began to research how I might be able to join Cisco, and what roles might be a good fit for me, we learned of Cisco’s Talent Incubation Program (CTIP.)
The Talent Incubation Program is like the VTIP but designed more for adults interested in changing careers and entering the tech industry. A Cisco employee must refer you, which makes you eligible to apply. After applying, the selection process – and, not to mention, the course itself – is intense. All in the effort of passing your CCNA.
So, my husband referred me, and I immediately began to prepare – just in case I was accepted. One week later, I received my first official email from Cisco inviting me to submit my resume and from there I received an email from Angie Coolidge, Co-Creator of the program, inviting me to complete Cisco’s online application.
My head was spinning! Was this really happening? Then, it came time to create a 1-3-minute video introducing myself and sharing why I wanted to join Cisco.
I must have re-shot that video a hundred times – I was so nervous! At the same time, I loved that I was able to be creative, show my personality, and really give Cisco a sense of who I am and why I wanted to join the world’s #1 best place to work.
After submitting my video, I learned I had been accepted for the program’s interview day! This day would consist of three separate interviews – a technical interview, a role play interview and a presentation on my choice of one of Cisco’s technologies.
I spent several hours each day studying Cisco’s tech – including every online resource I could find – to build the basic understanding of how these technologies functioned. When interview day came – I was ready!
Panic didn’t quite set in until I stepped foot on Cisco’s Research Triangle Park campus in Raleigh, NC on August 28, 2019. This was really happening! I was really on campus to interview for a potential job and I could NOT stop sweating.
Even with a few hiccups, the interview process turned out to be a breeze, and I felt strong in my performance. One day later, I received the email I had been waiting for: “Congratulations! We want to extend to you, an offer to participate in our next CTIP Cohort!”
My husband and I immediately went out to celebrate this life-changing event. This experience (and the role I accepted as a Cisco Technical Consulting Engineer for Customer Experience after I completed CTIP) would allow us to both accomplish so much. Not just as professionals, but for our family, too.
Yes, the experience was out of my comfort zone, demanding and exceptionally difficult (my background was in customer service and real estate prior to this program.) But it wasn’t impossible, and it was well worth the sacrifices made. All the late nights and hours spent watching videos and learning about Cisco technology led to my favorite part – when I started to anticipate what the technology could do and be used for. I knew I was really grasping what I was learning then!
Life is full of the unexpected. I never thought that I would end up in North Carolina, pursuing a career at Cisco in Engineering, or becoming a Cisco couple and family. But I am so glad that we have embraced the unexpected, and that Cisco has programs designed to empower those looking to jump-start their careers in technology.
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