This post was written by Jade Wang who participated in our Cisco High STEM Externship program which gives current junior and senior high school students an introduction into Cisco’s history, culture, and the technology industry.

It’s 5:15 AM PST when my alarm goes off. I know what you’re thinking, “Why are you starting your day this early during SUMMER BREAK?” It’s a valid question, and even one month prior I would’ve thought the idea preposterous myself, but when I accepted my admission into the Cisco High Externship program (which runs during EST hours), I couldn’t say no to this life-changing offer. 

Jade on Webex call with cohort.

So, there I was, heart racing, springing out of bed at 5:20 AM PST. I hit play on my morning playlist and officially started the day. After my morning workout, I got ready, made my morning matcha latte (sorry, coffee lovers, I’m more of a tea person myself), and logged in to Webex for my very first externship!

It’s now 7AM PST, and we start with a program kickoff and overview. At this point, most of my nerves (and sleepiness) have melted away, and I am left with buzzing excitement and bright eyes. From just the first call, I can tell that there are some externs who are more talkative, and some on the quieter side (I think I fall somewhere in the middle). After our kickoff, we quickly transition into the second item on today’s agenda: The Cisco Journey.

We had some technical difficulties here (hey, it happens to the best of us!) but what was inspiring was how the Cisco interns leading the activity were quick to find a way to make the time we spent together useful. They shared their personal experiences with the Cisco High Externship, which made me feel more comfortable with and connected to them – and to Cisco.

Next up, is our first executive speaker, Nykaj Nair, at 8:30AM PST. Nykaj was one of my interviewers for the program so I had heard some of his stories previously – but I still learned so much from his session during the externship. He shared his life experiences of growing up in Bangalore, India and did a great job of mixing humor, colorful oratory, and insightful wisdom into his talk. I thought his mother’s emphasis on the importance of soft skills was especially interesting, as many people often stress technical skills over soft skills. I was also in awe of his public speaking skills – this is something that I deeply aspire to gain (and I can see how it helps make Nykaj an excellent salesman).

At 9:45 AM PST, I received perhaps the biggest surprise of the day: $25 to order lunch (which was really breakfast for those in California) – what a special treat! During this time, the California Site had a meeting where Radhika and Anette walked us through a networking and mentoring presentation. Here we learned the importance of mentors, how to get a mentor, how to ask someone to be your mentor, and how to develop a relationship with your mentor. Peppered throughout the presentation, we completed activities that helped guide us through our own journey of finding a mentor. This was extremely helpful as it cleared up many questions I had about networking as well as insecurities I had around mentorship!

Jade on Webex call with cohort.11:30 AM PST marked the start of the Cisco Networking Academy presentation, led by one of my first connections at Cisco, Sara Shreeve. She talked about the benefits of the program, the different career opportunities participating in the Network Academy would result in, and something connected to the Network Academy: The Talent Bridge. Prior to my exposure to Cisco High, I had absolutely no idea that such an amazing program existed (even though the program is about 25 years old with 11,800 Cisco Networking Academies worldwide). I was so excited about this program and the associated opportunities – one that stood out to me was the Dream Team, which Sara briefly touched on. This program allows Net Academy students to practice their skills in the field, sometimes in cool places like large sporting events!

Finally, we wrapped up our day with a 12:15 PM PST Kahoot and the California Site Wrap-Up, both of which gave us more time with the interns and site leads, which allowed me to feel more connected to everyone at Cisco.

The Kahoot was a lot of fun, though I was sadly not in the top 5 (ohh, how tricky that last question was!), and the wrap-up was a nice way to bond with the other California externs and our site leads. And what did I do after I signed out at around 1:15 PM PST, you ask? Well, if you must know, waking up at 5:20 AM took quite the toll on me, so a nap was in order to refresh and refuel my mind after a day of incredible learning.

Overall, my very first day of the Cisco High Externship was an eventful one. It left me wanting more, and luckily there will be more adventures, as the program is two weeks long. Day 2, for example, would introduce us to our Capstone project, the major project that the externship is centered around, which is focused on how Cisco technology can be used in the healthcare industry!

I can’t wait to see all I will learn and take with me from this program. If you are interested in the Cisco High Externship for high school students – don’t hesitate!


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For more information on the Cisco High Externship program, please email cisco-high@external.cisco.com

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