The all-too familiar feeling of change is in the air as the last week of Cisco’s Canadian Intern experience comes to a close. I’ve only begun to notice how often change presents itself since starting University last September, and although new experiences are pleasant, there are changes not so readily welcomed – such as returning my badge and 30-pound laptop in exchange for a student ID card and a stack of textbooks.
Keeping with the theme of change, I’ve made a list of three key takeaways which will change the way I work, live and play – all of which I learned from working at Cisco this summer.
- Asking the right questions will expose you to information beyond what you were originally seeking.
Asking questions is a great way to express interest in a subject, which communicates to your mentors that you care about improving yourself. At first I would ask very basic questions and, as one would expect, I received basic answers. However, I became very engaged after getting my bearings and I was suddenly hungry to learn as much as possible. My questions gained much more depth as the summer progressed, which was reflected by the additional depth in the answers I received.
I consistently got more valuable information from my mentors simply by asking better questions. Not only did their answers help me with day-to-day activities, they also taught me many important skills which I would never have been exposed to in a classroom.
- The first step is the most important one.
Your starting point doesn’t matter nearly as much as your initial velocity. As an Engineering student, I entered this internship with no prior knowledge of sales or how a corporate giant such as Cisco operates. My starting point was behind that of my colleagues who study Commerce given the fact that first-year introductory economics was the extent of my business knowledge.
On my first day at Cisco I was armed with nothing but a handful of business terms from first-year economics and, as previously mentioned, a very heavy laptop. I knew I was at a disadvantage, so I made sure to push myself to learn as much as I could about how the business world works. Although I still have a long journey ahead, I tried my absolute hardest to learn as much as possible and I couldn’t be happier with my progress.
- Enjoy yourself.
I implement this idea every day; my fellow members of the Cisco family make it very easy to enjoy coming to work five days a week. I am beyond grateful to have been part of Cisco’s intern program and to have met so many fantastic hard-working individuals.
I have exchanged stories with friends from school about each of our summer work experiences, and I am proud to say that Cisco has provided me a top-of-the-line experience overall. This is especially true from a balance perspective – naturally, work piles up no matter where you work or what your role is. Cisco differentiates itself by providing a balanced environment where everyone works hard and everyone plays hard.
I plan to carry on these three principles with me back to school and on to my future ventures. Thank you Cisco, it’s been a fantastic summer. I hope to be back in May – for now, it’s time to hit the books.
Matt Schembri is currently a sophomore Engineering Physics student at McMaster University. His role at Cisco over the summer has been focused on Data Center and Collaboration architectures, as well as sales-related skills such as account research and pitching solutions. Matt attests that he had a challenging yet rewarding experience being part of the Cisco family for his 2015 Summer term.