Straight after high-school graduation in Dubai I moved to the United Kingdom with big dreams in order to pursue an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. Five years later, I returned home to Dubai with a master’s degree in International Business & Finance. Whilst being abroad, I realized that I love surrounding myself with diversified and inclusive groups of people and that I also tremendously enjoyed developing myself from a personal and professional perspective. As a result, experiencing diversity and growth were my main priorities when I was looking for a job after graduation.
I heard about a great opportunity at Cisco and felt like I could do well in a “tech-type” working environment with a lot of room for creativity, innovation, and flexibility!
I proceeded to apply and was invited to an open day to get to know Cisco better. Of course, I felt a bit nervous on the open day, however, I quickly realized that all the candidates were very motivated and “switched on” – which excited me a lot. I also realized that every Cisco employee I met that day had been within the organization for quite a long time, which showed me that not only were they comfortable being with Cisco, but they were happy to stay, and the working culture is fantastic!
The most nerve-wracking part of getting any job: The Interview! As part of Cisco’s assessment, we had to prepare for a role play, presentation, technical knowledge test, and the final interview. Sounds quite scary and trust me, it was! I over-prepared and worked really hard to understand the content and what was required of me. Despite the goosebumps and chills, I did well and managed to hide behind a façade of calmness.
Knowing that Cisco was not only interested in the information I had to provide but rather in who I really was and my true self, inspired me to make the most out of that day. I was also provided with a lot of valuable feedback where I felt like the assessors were looking into my Johari window and really focusing on the best that I have to offer. Luckily, I got a call on the same day to congratulate me for making it! (I use the word “luckily”, because after that day I understood that Cisco invests heavily in their employees and their strengths.)
It was not very hard to tell my family and friends that I would be moving to my 4th city in 6 years; Amsterdam! However, I must admit that I was a little scared of all the logistics that came with moving to a new city such as packing and shipping as well as finding an apartment and paying taxes. I was also nervous that I might not settle in well and “adult” properly. However, Cisco assigned us mentors who had completed the program right before we started. These mentors shared with us details of how to get the best experience about moving, how to settle in, living arrangements, even a list of the best restaurants for a cozy Sunday brunch.
On my first day at Cisco I could see how and why the candidates were selected for the program, and I was proud to be part of such an elite group of multicultural and diverse people. We started the fiscal year by going to Cisco Impact – a conference held yearly in Las Vegas, where we got to experience Cisco’s global culture of working hard and playing even harder.
With 20,000 Cisco sales employees at the event, there was a lot of knowledge to be shared and cool technology to be played with. For five days, all we did was get to know Cisco’s people and technology better, while also attending many networking sessions in the form of dinners, concerts, and formal parties.
Coming back to Amsterdam after all that energy was a great boost for what we call the “Boot Camp” here at CSAP. For us in the sales track (ASR’s), it was 4 months of gaining familiarity with Cisco solutions (technical trainings) and Cisco’s way of doing business (soft skills). Both sides of the training were quite interesting. Sure, the technical part includes a multiple choice test of 20 questions at the end of the week, but this training and test gave me a good understanding of what these solutions could provide to our societies and communities. The second part, the soft skills, was my favorite. I got to use all these different techniques with my family and friends, and who doesn’t like an active listener for a friend?
My absolute favorite part of the program, however, was being given the chance to explore and reinforce both my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Being 22 years old, it was the perfect time to get busy and lost in growth and achievements, and fortunately I got the chance to explore and experience that with every innovative and random idea I had. Whether it was managing an event back home for the youth or arranging a cultural talk for all my colleagues – I was given a lot of support to grow in areas that interested me. I also got to try different things from my findings and learnings during my assessed role play. I discussed my ideas openly with my manager who then refined these thoughts into a better structure and provided guidelines on how to succeed.
Six months into the program, I have collected quite a few achievements thanks to the amazing support system and work environment at Cisco, and to be honest I cannot wait to do more!
I graduated from Zayed University at the end of December 2018 with a degree in Information Technology (Specialization in Security and Networking technologies.) During the very last week of university, I was preparing for post-graduation life. I was actively applying for jobs right and left. In addition, I was applying for a master’s degree at NYU to explore more options. When I look back at how I was looking over my choices, I find that I was leaning more for a career that would involve technology and social responsibility at its very core.
I tend to tell people that Cisco found me instead of vice versa. One of the Cisco recruiters contacted me through LinkedIn, and they asked if an opportunity at Cisco would interest me. The actual chance of starting my career at Cisco thrilled me. So, I immediately replied to the recruiter that I am interested in the Cisco opportunity for the Engineer track, after which the interview process kicked off.
The interview process consisted of two main interviews; a digital interview and an assessment center.
After I finished the interview, I remember thinking that there were parts of the assessment center where I did very well in comparison to others. I kept recalculating what I had done in the interview. In the hiring process, Cisco really wants to choose the best of the best, and that is why I think the Assessment Center is made in a way to challenges you at every single step. Sometimes they do make the interview fun, and I remember talking about the books I liked to read with one of the managers as well. So, it was not as daunting as I had thought.
The Associate Systems Engineer (ASE) track started with a bang! We had to prepare to get our certification in CCNA Routing and Switching within two months. Those two months were preparing us for the technical aspect of being a Systems Engineer. Then we started our training in Cisco solutions across multiple product areas.
Besides the technical training aspect of the program, we like to have fun. For instance, one of the activities I was part of was Funds for Fun. In the Funds for Fun activities, we did a scavenger hunt around Amsterdam with the other ASEs followed by an End of the year dinner. The program might seem daunting at first, but with the help of the managers and co-workers it makes everything better!
It has been almost seven months since I started the Cisco Sales Associates Program (CSAP), and they have been very fulfilling and full of memorable moments. I must admit that the program is not all fun all the time, because you need to work hard and work hard some more. With that being said, I’m excited to what the next months have for me in the program.
In the Cisco Graduate Program you’ll learn how to change customers’ businesses to be part of a digitized future. This one year program combines instructor-led classes with self-paced trainings and hands-on experience. All the trainings are delivered in virtual classrooms using Cisco’s cutting-edge technologies. You will have a personal mentor and a dedicated team to support you in reaching your full potential.
Develop skills and competencies to build strong customer and partner relationships to provide business value through Cisco technologies.
Focus on architecting solutions that meet our customer’s technical and business needs.
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