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This post was authored by Inês Lille, a Project Specialist Intern on the Project Support Office EMEA Team.

When I started interviewing for Cisco, I was overwhelmed. Since I was a teenager, I dreamed of joining the company, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to land this role. I didn’t believe I was the number one candidate for a project management internship, as I was a telecommunications bachelor graduate and was studying computer science. I felt like an impostor among people with business and management degrees whose skills and educational background fit the role description.

However, I took a leap and went for it.

I knew I had enjoyed an optional university course — Introductory Project Management — and did not want to pursue a highly technical professional journey. I was overjoyed when I got the news that I got the role! It was a dream come true. And you might be asking yourself, “Why was Cisco your dream, even as a teenager?”

Well, I have seen firsthand how my mom’s feelings and perspective on her work changed before and after landing a role at Cisco. I learned about all the amazing feats Cisco has accomplished and the culture and values it so avidly fosters. I got to see my mom in the middle of workdays as she could work at home. I volunteered alongside her and learned how Cisco matches each hour spent with a $10 donation to the cause. I even stole some Cisco goodies from her and have worn “my” Cisco cap basically every single day of the summer.

Of course, the reality of achieving something you’ve longed for is always different. When I first started this internship, I went through the onboarding journey with an amazing facilitator. I had a lot of fun and met so many incredible people. Then, I had a week reviewing Cisco technical architectures, along with another week of soft skills training. I felt ready to take on anything!

Six people standing together and smiling.I started working on small tasks, found a mentor, attended meetings shadowing my colleagues, and realized that I understood 10%, maybe 15%, of what was said during those meetings. That’s when I started to truly grasp how big Cisco really is.

I began writing down every single piece of information I heard, even if I did not understand it. I used CTRL+U to quickly underline the words for technologies or acronyms I wasn’t sure were right, and later searched for everything that I could not understand on our incredible SharePoint knowledge database and tidied up the notes to make them legible. If I still needed to understand something, I would ask someone. My team is mostly made up of interns with less than a year’s experience, so I was lucky that everyone on the team had been through this very recently and had the patience to explain things, sometimes more than once, to help me understand.

Before I knew it, I was doing tasks on my own, taking requests from our pipeline at the Project Support Office, where we support project managers, and I started working on customer-facing projects with the support of my mentor.

Diving headfirst into challenges that initially intimidated me, I volunteered for various roles, such as being a facilitator for the Project Management Office All-Hands only a month after joining Cisco and as a panelist for My Onboarding Journey. Currently, I’m in the process of creating a PowerPoint design and animation workshop for the PMO, as I truly enjoy making presentations and have learned a lot along the way on how to enhance them. Additionally, I have joined local Cisco university engagements, embracing opportunities that push me out of my comfort zone.

Person outdoors walking a dog and wearing a "Cisco" t-shirt.I’ve even leaned on my technical background to support our team’s transition from a sunsetted tool to Microsoft platforms. This involved working on automations to streamline requests from project managers directly into our pipeline. I’m also developing an automatic availability tracker for our team and have contributed to the Project Support Office SharePoint website.

And finally, I fully embrace Cisco’s commitment to continuous learning, seizing opportunities to expand my knowledge through online courses on learning platforms.

Beyond my role, I’ve had the chance to volunteer for different causes, now proudly contributing as part of the Cisco team. On one of these, I got to work with my local cohort and a very special guest — my mom!

All of these opportunities and activities have helped me evolve in different ways: I’m making progress on my learning journey, doing a better job at presenting, I’m more confident in my work, I’ve met amazing people, and I’m continuously motivated as I feel like I am bringing value to the people I work with and the company.

I have never been someone who has been very passionate about what they did, but just like with my mom, that all changed with Cisco. My education was a lot of hard work and tears. So, I never thought I would be the person to say this, but I truly love what I do, I love the people who work here, and I love where I work.

Are you ready to love where you work? Explore early in career opportunities.

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