Interning at Cisco ET&I

Aditi Kanaujia

Aditi Kanaujia

Friday, August 12th, 2022

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The Interview Process

As a college freshman at New York University, I did not realize the competitive nature that was college until my spring semester. Every single person I knew was applying for summer internships and getting jobs, and there I was - barely making ends meet. My ambitious nature, however, would not let me fall behind, motivating me to begin the quest of finding my own internship. I must have applied to over 15 internships because of my vast interests in business and tech coupled with the scramble of not being left behind. Once my father heard wind of this news, he was quick to help me jump-start my career at his very own workplace… Cisco. Though skeptical, I was desperate to get any experience, so I applied to a few positions under my dad's recommendations. Mind you, the only thing I knew about Cisco at that time was my father's several ravings about his spectacular work experience.

I eventually ended up getting an interview for the project management role I had applied to under ET&I. Sitting on the thought of being a project manager weeks before my interview made me realize if I ended up receiving this role, it would help jump-start my career of wanting to be a product manager along with learning what it is like working in the corporate world. The desire to land this role grew immensely, and I began practicing, prepping, and asking people for help for my interview to secure the role as much as possible.

Come the day of the interview, I met with my now-to-be manager, Telma Fletcher, who was by far the kindest person I have ever met. She calmed my nerves by addressing the in-formalness of the interview and made it to where she truly wanted to know more about who I was and informed me of how I could fit into the innovative, fast-paced team she was part of. Never had an interview felt so tailored towards my needs as a potential future employee. Little did I know that that was the Cisco culture that I would be working in for the summer. And from that point onwards, it was a smooth sail. A week later, I accepted my offer as a full-time summer employee for my remote internship to begin on June 6th.

The Life of a (Remote) Cisco Intern

Being my first corporate job, I did not know what to expect for the first few days of work. My manager assigned me some work, including researching potential competition and blog writing companies and sitting in on meetings. I learned the importance of research in newly released sectors of companies and the importance of addressing competition and your targeted market. Knowing such delegation of tasks and the required information proved beneficial for my future aspirations of becoming a product manager.

The first huge project I was assigned was to create an e-book about API security for Panoptica. This was quite a task for me as I knew absolutely nothing about API security and what it entailed. This e-book/manual would go on the Panoptica website as a gated asset for users to use through their navigation of the product. Therefore, I had to research - a lot of research - before I could even begin to understand the basic concepts of API security. Initially, I was in an absolute rut because neither did I have an interest in the topic nor did I know what it was, but, over time, as I learned more about the topic, I was able to understand its relevance to many of modern-day companies' ability to keep their information and networks private and safe. So, after extensive research and a ton of writing, I put together a manual where in addition to learning about API security, I was also able to put into practice some of my Figma design skills. After this project, my manager saw my obsession with Figma and design and turned me towards Mikka, who set me on my second project, working on the ET&I website.

Having done a lot of prototyping and working with website design, I was incredibly excited to take on this project of being able to input some of my own ideas of how the website could be improved and perhaps prototyping some of my work into the website excited me to the core. First, I started simple: map the flow of the website. This was quite a labor-intensive piece of work as I had to click through every link possible on the website and map the flow of which link led to where. But with this map, the website designers on our team can see where we may need to add or remove links. Therefore, the completion of this map was vital. The second website project was now a bit more revved up as I had to prototype a blog series header for the website. At this point, I could take creative liberties to spice up the website a bit more. I used elements of the design already included on the website and added a bit more complexity to grab the reader's attention visually. The third step, suggest improvements and refine. I went into my header prototype and added more suggestions, such as creating separate pages for blog series so that all the blogs of a particular series can be localized to one place, making it easier for users to navigate through the blogs. At this point, my prototype was complete, and I shared it with Enzo, the creator of the blog series. After a few back-and-forth messages - commenting and editing, the prototype is done and will be ready to launch in the fall.

Aside from the website work and e-book projects, I also worked on side tasks along the way, such as taking notes during meetings, researching potential people and audiences that we could target for marketing ET&I products, and more. Through all this, I learned about working and communicating with various types of people and how to manage myself within a work environment. In the beginning, my communication and time management skills required work. Still, throughout the journey, I found various ways of keeping myself and work in check, all while learning to be proactive in the work environment. Of course, three months is not a lot of time to learn all the secrets of being a star employee, but I learned a lot, and I will forever be grateful for this experience.

Looking at the Future

My favorite part about being an intern at Cisco was being able to work with the amazing people of this company - Telma, Mikka, Emma, and more really made my journey worth remembering. In addition, I loved seeing my work being applied and used along with Cisco's flexible work environment where I could work from anywhere. Looking into the future, post-Cisco interning, I've learned from this experience that I love working in small, fast-paced teams where my work can visibly be put to use. I hope to return to Cisco and intern but also try other small startup companies (hopefully in person) such as the sector of ET&I and continually grow within the business industry.

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