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Intern Insights: 5 Tricks to Make the Most of Your Cisco Internship


This post was authored by Kelly Chiv, a recent marketing specialist intern on our SecureX/XDR Go-To-Market Team.

My internship with Cisco was no exception to this workforce shift, as I started my summer role remotely and ended it in the same manner. I initially felt that there would be an intimidating learning curve to adjust to compared to an in-person internship. However, I was proven wrong as Cisco seamlessly handled onboarding and working virtually, encouraging us to ask for help when we were confused and having helpful Cisconians ready to assist us.

For Summer 2022, I was a Marketing Specialist Intern assigned to work under Cisco Secure, focusing on SecureX and XDR—shout out to my Secure the Enterprise and Integrated Marketing teams! My fellow marketing specialist interns and I were happily greeted by the Amplify Program participants (previous interns who now work full time at Cisco), its program managers, and one another’s presences as we began the summer intern journey together. Little did I know that I would learn a lot in such a short, 12-week time frame. I now present five tips and words of wisdom that helped me adjust on my Cisco journey. I hope this, too, will help future Cisconians and summer interns with their experience at the #1 Best Workplace in the U.S.!

Tip #1: You aren’t supposed to know everything on your first day. Never be afraid to ask for help, especially when you know it may impact your performance and confidence to carry out projects!

I recall showing up on Week 1 feeling like I had to know the names and faces of every person I interacted with within Cisco Secure’s marketing department, understand every tidbit discussed during meetings, and already come in being able to do my role as an intern. However, I came to understand the true purpose of an internship—it’s supposed to help you learn what you do and don’t like. We aren’t supposed to know how to do our jobs on Day 1, and it can be easy to forget this. Just remember, it’s always good to do your best job first, then seek assistance when needed to make sure you produce the best work you can! At Cisco, you are always encouraged to pursue what interests you most and bring your best work and self to the table. 

Tip #2: As Wayne Gretzy once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

In my case, if it didn’t interfere with my schedule, project timelines, and limits as an intern, I went for as many opportunities as I could to bring more visibility to my name and my interest in taking on different side projects at Cisco—this blog is one of them! I personally swear by this quote, as you never really know what you can achieve unless you take the initiative to attempt something.

Tip #3: Take advantage of the built-in networking opportunities that come along with being an intern at a company like Cisco.

Throughout my internship, the events team threw some fun intern networking events and “Fun Friday” calls to amplify the intern experience at Cisco—there’s a reason Cisco is one of the best places to work! I highly recommend attending these events, as you can meet other interns who work in different business or technical functions than you and gain a wider perspective on what Cisco has to offer. I met people from different parts of the U.S. and the world, had good laughs with fellow interns in a “timed breakout room with a Thanos-styled fadeout to the main session” via Gatheround, and always looked forward to obtaining my five points for the Intern Rewards Program to obtain awesome Cisco swag.

Additionally, I took advantage of the opportunity to network with people within Cisco Secure—my intern cohort—the overall marketing department, and other business lines. It’s always good to set up 1:1s to get to know others and gain potential mentors during your time at Cisco. As they say, you never know who you can meet and that the people you know can bring you closer to your next opportunities in life!

Kelly Chiv and intern cohort at Pier 39 in San Francisco.

Tip #4: When you feel overwhelmed, always make sure to take breaks.

It’s easy to get caught up in your workload and forget to take breaks—I have also fallen into this routine. Remember that you’re human too, and you deserve to take it easy for your mental health. A quick five-minute walk, short exercise, ten-minute journaling session, or peaceful twenty-minute lunch break does a lot to relieve your stress and help you regain focus. The most productive worker isn’t the one who is always glued to their laptops, awaiting pings from their manager in hopes of getting in the team’s good graces. Rather, someone who makes it a priority to recharge and take incremental breaks away from work has a more clarified perspective on how to tackle their projects and feels more energized to do it! Cisco encourages its employees (interns included) to maintain a work-life balance, and I highly recommend you do so as well!

Tip #5: If you can physically visit a Cisco office or campus, do it!

I was fortunate enough to visit the second biggest Cisco campus with my fellow Amplify Marketing Interns in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina, and got to explore a bit of what RTP Buildings 7 and 9 had in store! I felt productive during my visit and got to see the Marketing Home Base and mini-conference rooms—which reminded me of my college campus’ library study rooms—in person.

Additionally, through my Marketing Intern readout in San Jose, I got the opportunity to see Cisco’s headquarters in sunny California and had a true Silicon Valley tech world experience. These office visits were an enriching, once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, so I also encourage you to visit your local or closest campus at least once!

Do you feel ready for your internship at Cisco now? I hope to see you carry on with the #WeAreCisco blog post tradition during your time at Cisco, and I wish you the best of luck with your experience!

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