I have a recommendation for Rady students who are interested in working in the Bay Area —attend the Rady School’s Annual Bay Area Trek! The event will provide you the opportunity to tour many highly-ranked companies in the Bay Area. That is exactly how I expanded my knowledge about Cisco from network equipment business units to their newer software-based business units, including security and management products. This is also where I met one of my interviewers and where I made connections with Bay Area Rady Alumni. These events ultimately helped me obtain a summer internship at Cisco.
After the on-campus interview with three Cisco directors and managers, I was offered a program manager intern position at the global headquarters of Cisco Systems in San Jose to assist the Experience Intelligence and Insights team with data-driven projects on customer assurance.
There are two kinds of badges in Cisco: blue badges are for full-time employees and red badges are for contractors. The interns in Cisco get blue badges, which means that Cisco would treat us as full-time employees and not temporary employees. We had the same access with the full-time employees to Cisco’s facilities, including oversea facilities. (It is cool that we can even enter Cisco’s buildings in other countries just with our badge!) We could also attend any kind of Cisco’s events, including the Cisco Beat which is Cisco employee’s source for real-time executive updates. (We had the chance to met with Cisco CEO Chuck and the executive team in person twice!). More importantly, we can feel this kind of trust during our work everyday. Everyone in the team was happy to share and we could have access to any data, which, as a data nerd, was a dream come true.
“We will treat you as consultants, not interns”
This is what my manager mentioned most during my first two days at Cisco and we (two Rady Students were interning here) were encouraged to find our own projects that interested us. During that process I got to know more about CAP (Critical Account Program) which plays an important role in ensuring customer success here at Cisco. It is one of the ways how Cisco listens to customers’ voice, but also a huge investment from Cisco to the customers. Combining what I have learned from Rady, I started to think about the cost and return of CAP investments. After discussing with my manager, I got his support to start my main project, finding evidence from data to show the leaders the return on CAP investment. After I got some positive results, he connected me to the VP in charge of the CAP program. The feedback from the VP opened my mind to a new direction to turn those insights into actions for sales, and an opportunity to present in the VP’s staff meeting followed. I learned a lot from this project, and grew from a data nerd to a business analyst who could manage the data to drive business.
Maximize networking and enjoy playing
“Maximize networking, shake hands and don’t be wallflowers,” is the advice I got before I started my internship. Cisco provided me with opportunities not only in-office and offsite communication within the team, but also plenty of events like intern orientation, Cisco beat, summer parties on the patio, Cisco family day, UCSD gathering, MBA intern lunch and especially, the Cisco Expo for interns, which is an opportunity for interns to meet with team members and learn more about the other Cisco business functions that are hiring. My experience showed me that the Bay Area has so many companies and talented employees, which makes it a great place to network.
I will miss the Cisco San Jose campus and my time at Cisco!
Eddie Zhen Xiu(‘17) is a full-time MBA candidate at the Rady School of Management with a background in technology.