18 months ago, I thought I had it all planned out. I was in my senior year of college, on spring break – on a cruise! But when that cruise ship came back into port, it was a completely different world, and suddenly I had to re-think all the plans I had.

Sabrina taking a selfie with fellow coworkersYou see, I had interned with Cisco the summer of 2018 and from that moment, I knew I had to come back. Fortunately for me I was given the offer to start my dream career, at an established leader in tech as soon as I graduated from the University of Florida.

My scheduled start date was August of 2020 in the Cisco Research Triangle Park (RTP) campus in Raleigh, NC. When the pandemic hit, I decided to stay home in Miami, Florida and work remotely until things got ‘back to normal’. For extroverts, like me, the thought of working and living in the same space, with not a lot of human interaction, isn’t one that leaves us with a warm fuzzy feeling. But I told myself that this would only be temporary.

I was so nervous in the months leading up to my start date, but what kept me going was that I was about to start my dream career at Cisco. I was really excited because I was starting with the Global Industries Marketing team, which was the same team I interned for a few years back. And you know as they say, “People work for people – they do not work for businesses.” I really enjoy that I work  for a team that allows me to follow my passions while still doing my “day job.”

This year has flown by and as scary as that sounds, I have learned so much and met so many incredible leaders.

Here are two things I’ve loved the most, thanks to being part of our Conexión Inclusive Community:

1. Authenticity: Cisco’s priority is to make sure you #LoveWhereYouWork and it all starts with making you feel like you belong. As a young Latina, I’m all too familiar with the stereotypes that are associated with being a Latinx individual working for a corporate company.

Sabrina wears the Hispanic Heritage Month Collection that reads Somos Cisco.

At Cisco, all those feelings are out the door and let me tell you – my first month here was memorable and unforgettable. It was the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) and one moment changed it all for me.

I tuned into the 2020 HHM ceremony to watch Maria Hinojosa – an award-winning news and investigative journalist. Maria Hinojosa! I say that again because I was so excited that Cisco had brought her to speak to us. I loved that she was speaking Spanglish – it made me feel at home. She had her famous necklace on and she said, “We need you rocking your Latinx self.” That statement struck me.

It was in this moment that I realized that I am at a company that values my heritage. That spends money and time to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. And that I can be part of this planning team as well and be my authentic self. I decided to get involved and pinged Angela M. who is the President of Cisco’s Global Conexión Inclusive Community to ask her what I needed to do.

That’s when it all started. I instantly became an active member of Conexión (our Latino Inclusive Community) and that same month, I was given the opportunity to be part of Dishes & Traditions, a virtual celebration for HHM to share different recipes. In November, I joined the Conexión board and had the chance to lead the Miami chapter. I was also given the opportunity to collaborate with the Cisco Store to create merchandise for HHM 2021 – which is now live!

2. The power in community: As I look back on my first year at Cisco, I have enjoyed the friendships, the opportunities but mainly the mentorship I’ve found through Conexión. Together, the team has helped each other prepare for virtual events, interviews, and even career changes. I personally feel that in every conversation, I learn about a new resource, person, or acronym (and we do have MANY acronyms).

Sabrina and other members of Conexion cooking over Webex.I have been pulled into exciting and different projects that allow me to have fun and showcase my project management skills. My favorite aspect of being part of Conexión (in which sometimes I cannot contain my excitement) is to be able to connect with Cisco’s inspiring Executive Leadership members like Alex Sapiz. The opportunity to connect is powerful, and the chance to learn from those that want to give back is extremely admirable.

All of these moments have allowed for me to bring my true self to work – a Latina that is proud of her accent, heritage, and values – as Cisco is committed towards becoming more inclusive.

Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and first woman of color to serve as a Supreme Court justice once said, “The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.” I could not agree more with this. I am excited when I am able to share my heritage, be understood, and also help to educate others.

As we move into a hybrid workspace, I now love working from home. Because even though I am not physically close to my fellow Cisconians, I never truly feel alone thanks to my Conexión familia and my amazing team.

Be proud of your accent at a company that values your heritage. ¡Somos Cisco! (We Are Cisco!)


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Sabrina Gonzalez

Global Retail Marketing Manager

Marketing and Communications