During the rollercoaster of emotions 2020 brought, I decided to take action and become more involved with Cisco’s Inclusive Communities. It was something I had been telling myself that I would do for years. Now, I would make that happen.
I started by joining our Women of Cisco Inclusive Community here in Portugal, and later in 2020 I was asked to co-lead our local chapter. What an honor! Not only was this a great way for me to stay connected to other Cisco employees, but it was a great way to stretch my skills and grow my career.
The role entails creating meaningful sessions for our network and mentoring a GirlMover, an intern from Mozambique, for four weeks. As part of the program, they integrate the transformational leadership academy with a cascading mentorship program where young graduates are mentored by reference leaders and, in turn, mentor, support and protect other young girls in vulnerable situations.
I was thrilled and enthusiastic with my new role and I was looking forward to the GirlMove partnership. Shortly after starting my role, I understood that we would not be able to welcome a GirlMover physically in the Cisco office, but we would have to do the four-week internship virtually.
There is no denying that this shift was a challenge. I was stressed and even a tiny bit skeptical. Could we really embrace an intern from Mozambique and give her the same experience virtually?
But there was no time to waste, either. Scheila was about to join our team!
Scheila’s university research is about the use of drones in the National Public Salvation Service in Mozambique. The drones make it possible to see places that are difficult to access and help them to create better strategies and faster rescues of people in need. Scheila’s main interest for her internship was mainly engineering, and more precisely Cyber Security.
Scheila was so eager to learn that our two meetings per week quickly turned into daily meetings. The Cisco teams were equally engaged in sharing their knowledge and experiences. I was amazed by Scheila’s curiosity and enthusiasm, and by the availability from all the Cisconians across Cisco Portugal. The internship gave Scheila valuable knowledge and information to support her with her research.
The outcome of the four-week internship was exceptional for both our teams and Scheila. We were even able to send her a drone to continue her dynamic work. I’m so happy that we managed to also share Cisco’s values with Scheila, even though our time together was limited and virtual.
She mentions in a video made for Cisco Portugal, “I saw during my internship that there is no difference between being a man or woman, all of us can do a career within Cisco. I also understand why Cisco is considered the #1 World’s Best Workplace – it is because Cisco allows their employees to be themselves.”.
What I love about Cisco is that we are encouraged to give back and be active in our amazing communities. In addition, I also believe that Cisco is helping to guide us to become our best selves and making the world a better place to live in!
I now know that being a part of Cisco’s Inclusive Communities really can change your life. If it wasn’t for Women of Cisco, I would have never met Scheila and the fantastic GirlMove organization. I learnt about the challenging situation for many girls and women in Mozambique, but also that we can make an impact together!
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