“Welcome to a day in the life of a _______.” Fill in the blank with any role like Ivy League law student, intern at a multinational investment bank, professional cheerleader, Instagram fashion influencer, software engineer at Cisco, etc., and I promise you will find an endless number of videos within this category.
If you’re anything like me, you might fall down the YouTube rabbit hole watching these vlogs on autoplay until 2 AM with a bowl of salty potato chips and asking yourself, “So … Should I be a solutions architect? Or how about Cisco’s newest food blogger?” My blog’s name would be Just a Byte of Bread with Bthang. Mind you, I’m in communications, but who’s saying you can’t and shouldn’t make a career pivot? After all, Cisco strongly believes in “one company, many careers.”
I absolutely LOVE watching these ‘Day in the Life’ vlogs because they often go beyond following someone’s daily routine and touch on their journeys to where they are now and what they’ve learned along the way. I find them equal parts entertaining and inspirational because they reinforce the truth that no one’s particular day or learning journey is quite the same. Including mine.
As a child, I loved school and always thought that everything that I needed to know to be a fully-functioning, working adult would be the ‘stuff’ that I learned in the classroom or through after-school tutoring. While so much can be learned in school, I realized very early on in my life that learning happens all the time and everywhere.
I recently celebrated my one-year work anniversary with Cisco, where my learning journey has coincided, intertwined, and taken off with my career in more ways than I ever imagined. The learning opportunities have been unexpectedly coming from all corners of the globe (literally). While some folks may say it’s like trying to drink from a fire hose, I’m absorbing everything I can, like a sponge.
Although I have never filmed a ‘Day in the Life’ vlog, let me take you through the past year of my life in my favorite role: a Lifelong Learner at Cisco.
- Cisco Illuminate: I truly am a lucky gal because I joined Cisco right when the company was gearing up to launch Cisco Illuminate for all global employees. Illuminate is an experience. The whole company pauses their daily work for 1-2 days to learn together from AMAZING internal and external speakers.
My first official day of work after new hire orientation was the same day as the first Cisco Illuminate, where Oprah Winfrey (Yes. THE Oprah.) spoke with all of us on all the ways to Illuminate Your Learning. I had no chill as I soaked in her words from my apartment, and I highly doubt that the rest of my colleagues did either! This experience holds a very special place in my heart because it really set the tone for my learning mindset at Cisco and my long-term career journey with the company. Since the first Illuminate Your Learning, we have also had Illuminate Your Leadership, Illuminate Your Career, and Illuminate Your Team — I can’t wait to see what little Lumi and the amazing team of rockstar Cisconians behind the experience bring to us next!
- Inclusive Communities: Getting involved with Inclusive Communities from pretty much day one has been instrumental in helping me feel at home and have a sense of belonging. These groups support full-spectrum diversity and serve as safe spaces for employees to “network, develop leadership skills, serve as change agents and get proximate as allies to various cultures and perspectives.” Through Cisco’s Inclusive Communities, like Women of Cisco, ICON, Emerging Talent, Mindfulness & Resilience, PRIDE, and Green Team Network, I’ve been able to 1) Yell “FIRE!” and lean on these incredible networks as they come to the rescue and help me work through a roadblock 2) Raise my hand for a stretch assignment and step into a leadership role 3) Meet both likeminded peers and people with uniquely different backgrounds, from all over the world.
- Traditional Learnings: In recent years, I was made aware of a term called the ‘Sunday Scaries’ — or ‘Back-to-Work Scaries’ — to essentially describe the creeping feeling of doom that one might experience the day before coming back to the office from a weekend or holiday. One of the reasons why the ‘scaries’ resonate universally with folks is because email inboxes may have the potential to be quite dreadful upon return to office. When you’re passionate about what you do, the communications will flow through — and we have a LOT of passionate people at Cisco! Regardless of what my email inbox might look like on any given day, I am always so excited to see the golden newsletters from Cisco Career & Learning about developing your professional and personal skills. Through Career & Learning, I was able to take advantage of Cisco’s many ‘traditional learnings’ such as formal certifications, professional development workshops, Degreed learning pathways, LinkedIn Learning, and more — all of which can help Cisconians achieve personal development goals and career aspirations. As you can imagine, you will often hear at Cisco that “your career is owned by you, supported by your leader, and enabled by Cisco.” Now, what’s so scary about that?
- Programming: Joining Cisco last year was the first time I joined a company in a fully remote environment, and I had a lot of questions about what this would look like for me. How do I build a community? Will I be able to make work friends? Am I going to miss the water cooler talk? How tall is everyone? (We ALL are curious about this one.) Having the opportunity to participate in various Cisco programming such as Discover Cisco through Emerging Talent @ the Collaboration Centers, the Executive Shadow Program, the Proximity Initiative, JUMP, and more has allowed me to embed myself even deeper into the Cisco community, learn by doing, meet new Cisconians who I wouldn’t normally interact with in my role, and have a lot of laughs along the way.
- People: The people I’ve met in my first year at Cisco have been so inspiring and grounding. I haven’t met a single person who isn’t open to a conversation, whether it’s about professional development, sharing knowledge, or just a chat to get to know one another and learn about what makes each other tick! The same Cisconians who I’ve talked to about sustainability dashboards, communications and marketing trends, and ChatGPT (to name a few) are also the same folks who will speak with me about my favorite wizarding book series, K-dramas, superheroes, boba, and travel tips. The people make this company great, and I step away from every conversation having picked up something new.
Cisco is a learner’s playground, and I am so grateful I get to participate in an environment where I am not afraid to make mistakes and keep trying new things. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is to simply enjoy the journey. I hope you enjoyed following along with me through a year in my life as a Lifelong Learner at Cisco!
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