What it does: Internet Protocol-based networking products and services
Staff stats: 73,700 across the globe, around 1200 in Australia
The good bits: Learning opportunities, supportive culture
The not so good bits: Big workloads, being a small cog in a giant global organisation
The Cisco story
Though it doesn’t get as much publicity as some of its peers, Cisco (the name is a play on San Francisco) is one of Silicon Valley’s biggest success stories. It was launched in 1984 by a couple, Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, who oversaw the computers at a couple of Stanford University’s departments. Drawing on their experiences at Stanford, they pioneered the local area network (LAN). This involves using a multiprotocol router system to connect individual computers located across a given area.
Shortly after Cisco Systems went public in 1990, Bosack and Lerner departed. Their creation continued to enjoy strong growth, largely as a result snapping up a vast number of smaller, promising tech companies. The company, which shortened its name from Cisco Systems to Cisco in 2006, is now globe-spanning technology conglomerate. One that develops, manufactures and sells cutting-edge products and services and is an industry leader in network hardware and telecommunications equipment. Cisco has had an increasingly large presence in the Asia-Pacific over the last three decades. Its Australian office in North Sydney serves as one its main headquarters in this region. In 2016, the company had assets of US$121.6 billion and revenue of US$49.24 billion
Like most tech firms, Cisco is enthusiastic about diversity. The company proclaims: “At Cisco we harness the power of inclusion, diversity and collaboration to foster the best in our people, to exceed our customers’ expectations and to develop a robust community where our differences are our best assets.”
Cisco has many ‘Employee Resource Organisations’. These help “diverse groups connect, explore their unique passions and talents, innovate and excel.” Over 25,000 staff across 43 countries are now involved in these groups, which cater for employees who are Asian, Black, Indian, Latino, disabled, female, LGBT or military veterans.
Cisco devotes a lot of resources to “scalable and self-sustaining programs that use technology to meet some of society’s biggest challenges”. Its social investment programs focus on providing: access to education; connected (i.e. high-tech) healthcare; economic empowerment and disaster relief. Cisco encourages its staff to “give generously of their talent, time and compassion”. It runs an Employee Volunteer Program that allows staff to find volunteer opportunities that are a good fit for their skills and interests.
The recruitment process
Cisco has an incredible range of options for recent grads who are “financial wizards, crafty communicators and, of course, computer nerds”. At Cisco, you can do anything from sign up for the ‘Apprentice Program’, which involves 1-3 years of trying out different roles and teams, to opting for a “customised learning path” in business areas such as customer service, cyber security, digitisation, engineering, information technology, operations, sales or supply chain that will “fit your areas of interest” and provide “professional development opportunities.”
While not required, it won’t do your cause any harm to have done one of the company’s internship programs if you want to land a full-time gig there after graduation. Cisco offers internships to students who are “self-starters, innovative, driven and passionate about using technology to make a difference in the world.” You can find out more the work experience options on offer here.
While the recruitment process will vary depending on which business area you’re applying to work in, it will probably involve the following stages. First, you make an online application. At this point, you’ll be prompted to find out more about what it’s like working at Cisco by exploring the Social & Blogs page on the company website. The next stage is several interviews, done over the phone or via video conferencing. During these interviews you’ll be given more information about Cisco and have your skills and experience evaluated against the company’s business needs. (This is your opportunity to highlight your past achievements and explain what value you could bring to Cisco in the future.) The final hurdle is usually a visit to an assessment centre. Here you’ll have to sit an exam, do a pitch or presentation, participate in a group role play and take part in a face-to-face interview.
As is typical for successful Silicon Valley companies, Cisco treats its staff well. There’s a “competitive compensation plan”, which is very competitive indeed if you end up doing work that fattens up the company’s bottom line. Speaking of which, annual bonuses are handed out based on performance not seniority. Even better, you don’t have to wait to rise to the executive ranks before being able to access a generous stock-purchase program.
Cisco is enthusiastic about professional development and will usually cover all the costs involved if you undertake training or further education. You also get flexible work hours and generous leave provisions, including a day off on your birthday. The company provides health and life insurance and there are medical and fitness centres on most sites.
You’ll be expected to progress at a pace you’re comfortable with. You’ll do this by “identifying opportunities, adding value and raising your hand to get involved in assignments that will stretch you beyond your current role”.
The vibe of the place
Cisco helped pioneer the fun, funky and egalitarian workplace culture that’s now associated with the tech sector. You can expect a flat structure, approachable managers, supportive colleagues and lots of after-hours socialising.
Overall satisfaction rating among grad employees: 4.7 stars
From the Employer:
"We’re building the best team so we can continue to connect the unconnected and change the way the world works, lives, plays and learns. Working together and sharing ideas, we innovate our customers’ businesses all over the world. Our partners and customers demand the best from their technology, and we are up for the challenge. Are you?
Opportunities Across Cisco
No matter the team, you will work with colleagues who are smart, passionate, and diverse. Just like you.
IT – Driving business innovation through technology. The world-class IT organization is focused on improving employee productivity by using the latest technologies. This includes building Cisco’s own network and data center strategies with our own technologies. IT’s business partners cover the entire scope of the company: Engineering, Sales, Services, Finance, Legal, Supply Chain, Human Resources, etc.
Sales – Be part of the team that drives the revenue for the company as they present the solutions solving our customers’ most critical needs.
Services – Once the products are deployed, it’s the Services team the customer turns to for network expertise. Learn from industry experts as you work directly with our customers and gain hands-on experience delivering business and technology solutions from Data, Security, Mobility, and Cloud.
Join us and help us become the #1 IT company in the world."