Sara and boyfriend out at a bar. You often hear that Cisco is more than just a workplace – for many here, co-workers have become a second family. While I didn’t necessarily believe that during my interview, figuring it was an exaggeration and an embellishment of the truth, I now find myself saying those same words as I interview candidates for our Webex team in Galway, Ireland.

My recent experience – that had me leave Cisco, then return – only strengthened this sentiment.

Four years ago, when I first joined Cisco, my boyfriend had originally referred me to the role. We had been doing the long-distance thing for over a year, so this job offer meant we’d finally be living in the same city again!

My first year at Cisco was exciting, but I was juggling a lot at the time. Changing cities, starting a new job, buying a house – it was enough to be getting on with for anyone. But I was also carrying with me an unfinished master’s that seemed to have no end in sight. If it weren’t for my manager, Katie, suggesting I come in an hour early every day to work on my thesis, I don’t think I ever would have gotten it over the finish line. And later, it gave me the opportunity to attend and present my research at a conference in Wisconsin – time away that was fully supported by Cisco.

Through all that, I still managed to find time for all the incredible social activities Cisco had to offer – quarterly “fun funds” (sponsored time for your team to spend on social activities), volunteering days, hackathons, and sports days – just to name a few. It is thanks to these, and the fun-filled and friendly atmosphere in the Galway office, that I now have a close-knit group of (what I believe to be) lifelong friends.

About a year ago, I decided to try something new and took an opportunity to work in the video game industry, a long-term passion of mine. Unfortunately, the role wasn’t a good fit for me or my career. Being stuck at home, in the depths of 2020, made me realise just how important my job was to me. In fact, I felt very lucky to have a job at all, so I was determined to try and make this one work.

However, I sorely missed the feeling I had at Cisco – the enthusiasm, confidence, and friendships. I realized then that I had probably started to take these for granted before I left. Just as I was struggling with these thoughts, I received a few messages from three different friends at Cisco. There was an opening on my old team! It felt like fate, and I wasn’t going to take it for granted again. I immediately applied and shortly got the offer to return to Cisco.

Sara at a giveback event doing yardwork alongside fellow coworkers. It felt like coming home.

On the career side, I couldn’t have asked for more. As a Software Engineer for Webex, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from incredibly talented people. With every monthly release of the product, I get to see the features I’ve worked on land in the hands of our customers. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and demo my work to our leadership team – all the way up to and including our CEO, Chuck Robbins. And I have a solid career path ahead of me, with many experienced technical leaders and principal engineers around me from which to learn.

I feel very lucky to not only have a job, but to have one that fills me with energy and enthusiasm, and to be surrounded by not just talented colleagues, but people I really connect with and call friends. Cisco is home for me and it’s great to be back!


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