This post was written by Katy Killbourne, Americas Digital Experience Marketing Intern, from North Carolina State University.

I am an extrovert. And, frankly, I always have been. Ever since I can remember, being around and interacting with people has been one of my absolute favorite things. Whether in elementary school on my first play-date with a classmate, or my first week at NC State introducing myself to nearly everyone I walked by, I thrive when I can build new connections and relationships with others.    

The first time I ever heard the name “Cisco” was when NC State Alumna Lauren Beane (who is now my teammate!) presented to an American Marketing Association (AMA) meeting my Freshman year. A few days following the presentation, I attended my first career fair and immediately noticed everyone hovering around bright blue shirts. After walking over and introducing myself, I soon realized that it was that same huge tech company that I learned about in AMA. I was immediately intrigued by the bright, bubbly demeanor of the Cisco employees – in T-SHIRTS (!!) as it surely did not match my expectations of what a technology company would be.  

Flash forward, three years later my internship interview. I was shaking in my boots with – not nerves – but excitement.  The smiles of the Cisco recruiters walking up and down the hall brought a level of comfort and confidence that I had never experienced before. The moment I sat down at the table of interviewers, I felt weirdly at ease. Our conversations flowed naturally and I felt as if I was learning so much, while they were trying to learn about me. I walked out of the interview room with a smile on my face and an overwhelming sense of purpose.   

Even if I don’t get this internship, I thought to myself, I am going to find a way to work for this company.  Luckily, I was offered a role as a Cisco intern! And then, the world changed.

Filled with a new level of uncertainty, I came to the difficult realization that my dream internship might not take place throughout the summer of 2020. However, only a few days later, I received the confirmation email that, despite everything that was going on, Cisco would keep pushing through and utilize their technology to bring us the best virtual internship experience possible!

Flash forward, eight weeks later May 18th, 2020my first day at Cisco.

Katy's laptop open with a Cisco logo background on her desk at home.

I was ready to learn, grow, and connect with the other interns and employees at Cisco. Even though I was aware that everything was going to be virtual, I was ready to make the most of it. I quickly realized that the positive attitude I carried was amplified exponentially by every employee and recruiter that spoke to us that first week (and every day since.)  I was encouraged beyond belief.  

I am a firm believer in learning from others. Therefore, knowing the power and importance of networking, as it has been stressed in nearly every college scenario, I was ready to put my skills to the test. My summer mission was now clear: learn and grow by building meaningful relationships with as many people as possible.   

I began my mission by writing down every person’s name that spoke to us that first week, and any names they mentioned, in a little red notebook. Next, I took to LinkedIn and Webex Teams and set up meetings with nearly everyone…once the meetings began, my network expanded as they often led me to even more people to connect with.   

I was now in a daily routine of speaking with so many influential and inspiring people throughout all different sectors of Cisco. Every time I hung up from a call, I couldn’t help but smile as I realized how amazing it felt to expand my web even further across the company. After each conversation, I not only had a notebook full of incredible advice and knowledge, but I also had three more names to write down. I soon had so many connections that I had to transfer my little red notebook into a chart on Excel! 

One of the most amazing things I discovered through these 30-minute chats was that every single individual I spoke with had an overwhelming sense of passion and care for Cisco as a whole. The inspiration and intention poured out of every sentence of their story and I realized that these are some of the most genuine, driven, and passionate people I have ever met. This is truly what it means to be a dream-seeker and bridge-builder. 

Fast forward to today.

Katy's bunny works on the floor with her.It is six weeks in, and I am still networking. I have spoken to so many amazing individuals, and they have ALL taught me so many wonderful, and valuable lessons. Some of my favorite pieces of advice have been from:   

  • Joie H. taught me to never be afraid to provide my opinion and ask questions. 
  • Amal E. taught me to maintain my connections with the people I meet. 
  • Victoria V. taught me to try new things, always remain positive, and have fun. 
  • Brennen M. taught me that Cisco is truly what you make it.  

This experience has taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I have truly discovered my passion for growth, learning, and stepping outside my comfort zone through the incredible relationships I’ve built. I feel so blessed to be a part of the Cisco family this summer and I hope I can continue this journey throughout my future. I will be forever grateful for this internship and all that it has brought me through this new kind of networking.  

Ready to become a Cisco intern? We’re hiring. Apply now.