They say that time flies when you’re having fun, but I didn’t expect it to fly this fast. It seems like half of my internship with Cisco has flown by in the blink of an eye. With five weeks in RTP (Raleigh, NC) and one week at our headquarters in San Jose, California under my belt, I have learned and grown more than I ever thought possible.

Here’s four of the strongest lessons I’ve experienced in the past six weeks as I reflect on the halfway point during my Cisco Internship:

  1. Networking is Real

I know, I know. My gut reaction to the word “networking” is to cringe too. But hear me out here. I’m not talking about the fake, schmoozing, shaking hands, and forgetting the name of who you just talked to type of networking. I’m talking about forming relationships and getting to know the people in your company. At Cisco you have the opporunity to learn from a diverse group of people that have so much to offer!

Different professional organizations I have been a part of at school have always stressed the importance of networking and in the past I’ve brushed it off. One of my strongest values is authenticity, and I honestly thought that there was no way that this could go together with networking. However, during my time at Cisco, I’ve realized my values are what have made networking so valuable to me.

One on one meetings with anyone, from a director to a person in an entry level position, mean so much more when you go into them with genuine interest and authenticity. I’ve found that people have such a positive response to my transparent enthusiasm and passion for Cisco. This has shown that by being myself, networking doesn’t have to be something to dread. In fact, I now look forward to it.

  1. People and Culture Matter

In a company as large as Cisco, I think it’s easy to feel like a faceless employee in a sea of 70,000+. However, the reality here at Cisco is that it’s nearly impossible to feel this way. Coming into my internship I was nervous and doubted that I would find a place here. It’s surreal how quickly this feeling faded away.

I now walk into work every day truly content, knowing that I am surrounded by kind, like-minded individuals who are passionate, intelligent, and fun. But it’s not just the amazing people, or even the Creativity Zones scattered around campus that make me admire Cisco’s culture (although they are definitely a plus.) The culture of giving back is what stands out the most to me!

During my time here, I have had endless opportunities to volunteer with the Cisco community. During my second week, my roommate and I participated in a Sort-A-Rama with Cisco to give back to a local food bank. Working side by side in the huge fair grounds with coworkers from all walks of life, who took the time out of their busy work days to give back to the community around them was an invaluable experience I will always be grateful for.

Yes, Cisco is an industry leader and a technology innovator, but what matters the most to me, and what will keep me coming into work every single day, is the people and the culture.

  1. How to Deal with Stress and Negativity in the Workplace

It happened. I finally had my first stressful week at work. For the first time I felt overwhelmed and wasn’t quite sure how I was going to follow through on all of my responsibilities. I could have let myself get stressed to the max and intimidated by my workload. I could have complained to anyone that would listen, and let the negativity that was starting to creep in consume me. This was such an easy trap to fall into, and I admit that more than once I felt myself starting to give in.

However, there was one thing that kept me from falling into this trap- perspective. It was on an after work run actually, that I realized all I needed to do was view my stressful work week as an amazing opportunity. An opportunity to learn about myself, how I work under pressure, how I react to huge responsibility, and how I can turn a negative situation into a positive one. I chose to be grateful instead of stressed.

I worked so hard to get this internship. I spent hours reviewing the company before recruiting at Career Week, and even more hours studying before my interview. I attended (some might say stalked) every single session that Cisco held at my school so I could learn as much as I could about the company and how I could work there. I have never been so happy and felt as accomplished as I did when I got my offer to work here.

So why would I ever waste even a minute being ungrateful for this opportunity? My team was trusting me with important work, and instead of being freaked out, I relished in their trust. It was scary and it was intimidating, but facing the challenges of a huge workload with a positive attitude completely changed my experience, and I wouldn’t have learned or grown as much as I have if I didn’t.

  1. Cisco is Truly One of a Kind

Sitting in the heart of Silicon Valley at Cisco Beat on Wednesday morning, I think every person in the audience could feel it. I had goosebumps – and not just because I was completely star struck by the number of executives that surrounded me. The energy and the passion that employees at Cisco have for the work they are doing cannot be replicated anywhere else, and it’s contagious.

With the launch of Cisco’s latest and greatest network, we are continuing to innovate and stay ahead of our competition, and it is such a great feeling to be a part of that ride. Having executives that take the time out of their incredibly busy schedules to discuss openly the direction of the company is something that truly sets Cisco apart. Furthermore, having a CEO like Chuck Robbins that would take the time to stay almost an hour after the Beat ended just to take pictures and talk to interns is incredible to me!

I could not have imagined before my internship that I would even get the opportunity to be in the same room as our CEO and CMO, let alone get a picture with Chuck Robbins at the Cisco Beat and have a happy hour with Karen Walker in downtown San Jose. Having such approachable and transparent leadership completely changes the experience of an employee, and I am so thankful that Cisco has shown me this.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to become a Cisco Intern? We’re hiring!


Gabriella Tedesco

Marketing and Communications Intern

Enterprise Solutions Group