Cisco internships

How to Land a Cisco Internship and What the Experience Is Like

by | Jul 18, 2020 | Internships

For engineering students and recent graduates, finding an internship is often the first step to building the foundation of a successful career. Internships can help you develop valuable networking opportunities while also enabling you to work on real-life problems in your desired field. If you’re studying to be a network engineer, hardware engineer, or software engineer, Cisco internships are great opportunities to develop your skills and get started in your career.

Want to learn more about Cisco internship programs? We’ve put together this guide including what types of internships are available and what the application process is like. Plus, you’ll get tips on how to land the internship and learn about the company culture at Cisco. Spoiler alert: You can bring your furry friend to the office.

What Is Cisco?

Cisco Systems, Inc. is an information technology company with headquarters in San Jose. It’s located near other tech behemoths like Google in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley. The company develops a wide range of technology including network hardware, software, and telecommunications products. They also own subsidiaries like Webex and OpenDNS that allow the business to specialize in IoT (Internet of Things) and domain security.

It’s no surprise that Cisco’s internship programs are in high demand. In 2019, the company was ranked number 1 on Great Place to Work’s list of the World’s Best Workplaces. With internship programs and career opportunities for job seekers based in the United States and international locations such as Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Barcelona, and Bangalore, there are myriad opportunities for recent graduates and college students.

Cisco Internship Programs

Cisco logo on a cell phone

The Cisco International Internship Program (CIIP) has been discontinued, but the company offers opportunities domestically in cities across the United States. The largest campuses are in San Jose, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina, but the company hires large numbers of interns in Chicago, Austin, New York, and Ann Arbor as well.

Cisco offers both technical and non-technical internship programs. Technical internships revolve around engineering, information technology, and supply chain while non-technical opportunities include sales, finance, and human resources. The different categories for internships also include computer science, managed services, customer experience, and business administration.

The company hires interns from different class levels including first-years and sophomores, though historically they mainly hire juniors and seniors. Part-time and full-time internship opportunities are open to students at both the undergraduate and masters level.

The majority of Cisco’s internships are summer internships. They typically begin at the end of May or early June and end in early August depending on the school year schedule of your university. In addition to summer internships, Cisco offers a few part-time or year-round internship opportunities, mainly for students at campuses near their main offices. They also offer co-ops in certain areas where students can join six-month work programs during the school year.

Application Process for Cisco Internships

Woman interviews for Cisco internship

The application process for Cisco internships relies heavily on making a personal connection. While you can simply go to the Cisco careers website and apply, your chances of landing the gig are significantly higher if you make a connection with a Cisco recruiter or manager.

The best way to do this is to attend career fairs, information sessions, and other recruiting events. Cisco university outreach employees are usually on campus the whole month of September and a few weeks in October. Hiring managers aim to fill summer internship positions in the fall, but if opportunities are still open in spring, they may visit universities then as well.

If a Cisco representative isn’t scheduled to visit your campus, you can make personal connections by reaching out to them via LinkedIn. A manager will evaluate your background and work experience and set up a remote interview to discuss the opportunity further. If you’ve made connections on campus, you’ll likely be asked to conduct an interview either on campus or via phone.

Interview Process

Historically recruiters and managers meet you on campus first. If the Cisco employee thinks your work experience and educational background are a good fit, they’ll conduct an interview. These campus or remote interviews typically last around 45 minutes. They’ll assess your background, skills, and personality.

Cisco posts helpful interview tips right on their internship website. Their advice includes being authentic and understanding the job and the company. Read on to learn more about what Cisco looks for when hiring interns.

What Cisco Looks for in Interns

Man adjusts wires on server bank

Cisco requires interns to have a 3.0 GPA minimum. They prefer candidates who are passionate about what they do. Hiring managers focus less on how much you know and more on your willingness to learn and desire to participate.

Traits that Cisco hiring managers like include curiosity and engagement. They look for whether you’re involved in the community, participate in organizations, and are active within your major department.

If you’re applying for a technical role, it’s helpful to have a technical background. This background can include a combination of work experience, project experience, or simply studying a related major.

With dozens of technology companies including Cisco offering internships, it can be hard to find the right fit. That’s why Scholars works hard to break down different internship opportunities to help students navigate the application process to find what works best for them.

On our podcast, The Internship Show, we talk to hiring managers from different companies offering internships for students and recent graduates. Recently, we talked to Ryan Gibson, the university relations manager at Cisco to find out more about what it’s like to intern at Cisco.

What It’s Like to Intern at Cisco

Woman smiles at Cisco intership

If you land the internship at Cisco, you’ll go through orientation on your first day. You’ll learn more about the company benefits, get access to employer resource groups and early-career networks. Plus, you’ll get a tour of the offices and some company swag.

Interns are paired with a manager, mentor, and intern class. The program features happy hours, coffee chats, and game nights to help you network with leadership employees as well as other students in the program.

At Cisco, professional development and networking are huge. Cisco networking opportunities including fireside chats with executives and high-level speaker series featuring discussions with leadership team members. You’ll also be able to enroll in free training sessions such as Excel classes to help you build skills and learn new technologies.

One of the biggest benefits of Cisco internships is its focus on accessibility to other departments. Interns are allowed to shadow other groups for a day and pitch projects that involve work across teams. That means if you’re an engineering intern, but are interested in aspects of human resources, you can create a project that enables you to learn from both teams.

The company is proud of its open-door policy and encourages interns to take advantage of the opportunity. Managers don’t just assign tasks to interns. They work directly with you to gain perspective on what you enjoy doing. With this knowledge, the managers craft projects and programs that enable you to work on things you’re passionate about. Essentially, these internship programs are designed to help you build on your interests, making each opportunity customizable and unique.

The work environment and company culture at Cisco are laid back, which is reflected in their #wearecisco campaigns. You can bring your dog to the office and there isn’t a strict dress code so you can wear things like flip flops and Crocs. The company focuses on allowing interns to be their authentic selves and also celebrates milestones and achievements. Interns get access to company amenities including the gym, basketball court, and doctor’s offices at some locations.

Build Your Career With Scholars

Woman holds stylus and smiles at camera in office

Internships offer incredible learning and networking experiences for students and recent graduates. Scholars helps connect students with internship opportunities at some of the best companies. From Shopify and Uber to Dell and Kraft Heinz, we offer tips on how to land internships and give guidance on what it’s like to actually work at these companies.

Sign up and create a profile to make it easy for companies to reach out about internship opportunities. You can use our online platform to gain access to premium resources including subscriber podcasts as well as to engage and connect with companies you’re interested in working for. Best of all, you can easily schedule interviews once you make connections with recruiters in your desired field. It’s a great way to start building your career and connecting with people in your industry.