I’ve never been very good at fitting in.
From being the only Asian American in my entire elementary school to being the only female in my 8th grade computer science class, I’ve definitely endured my fair share of experiences where I’ve felt like the odd one out. Growing up, it felt as though my innate ability to stick out like a sore thumb was my fatal flaw.
Through the years though, my perspective of moments where I felt different slowly shifted from disappointment to appreciation. I owe a lot of this transformative thinking to some key professors, mentors, and, of course, my chosen family at Arizona State University who helped me recognize the importance, necessity, and beauty in diversity.
So, okay Kathryn, this is great and all, but what does Cisco have to do with any of this?
Let me set the scene — it’s Fall semester of senior year and I’m standing in an overcrowded and very loud career fair intended for Supply Chain majors, which by the way I was not. Feeling like a complete outsider because of the handful of puzzled looks I received from the last few recruiters I shared my resume with, I scanned the room for the next company on my list to talk to. I see that Apple has a lengthy line of students in front of their booth, but to the left is Cisco with a sign that says, “Be you, with us!”
Something about those four simple words drew me in and inspired me to continue staying true to my interests, despite my qualifications. I ended up having a memorable conversation with the Cisco recruiters about how their technology enabled drones to help mitigate poaching of an endangered rhino species.
Fast forward to today — it has been a little over a year since I started my first full–time position in tech with Cisco as a Cloud Commodity Specialist on our Global Supplier Management (GSM) Software & Cloud Supply Chain team, and in that time I’ve accepted a new role on the team as our Cloud Sourcing Project Manager. I live to tell the story that Cisco’s culture has proven through and through to fully embody those four simple words that left quite the first impression on me. I felt the sentiment of those words during my hiring process and I feel those words day in and day out while collaborating with my teammates.
When I first walked into orientation week, I quickly gathered that I was the youngest full-time employee on my team. This was both terrifying and thrilling because on one hand I was already feeling the symptoms of imposter syndrome creep in, but on the other I was realizing that I had this fantastic opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals who were subject matter experts in their fields.
It didn’t take long, though, for me to realize that Cisco was the kind of workplace where it was okay to freely think outside the box, make bold leaps without remorse, engage in courageous conversations, and celebrate our differences. In fact, this was all encouraged.
Cisco has really reinforced that those moments where I may not fit in are opportunities for me to identify what makes me unique and share with others a new perspective that they otherwise would not have been exposed to. They are moments that allow me to blaze my own path without hesitation or regret because I’m already entering uncharted territory. They are moments that allow me to open my mind to all the possibilities of what could be.
So, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss:, “Why try fitting in when you were born to stand out?”
Ready to ‘be you, with us’? Apply now.