Cisco Canada Blog

Why is an internship at Cisco Canada awesome? You Get to Make a Meaningful Difference.

August 24, 2015

Chatting over coffee this morning, we realized sadly over Americanos that only 10 days remained in our Cisco internship experience. In a flurry of account planning, pivot tables and WebEx meetings, the entire four months had flown by. Although we’ve learned so much from the experience as sales interns, the access to education we’ve enabled in the community makes us most proud. Through a book drive benefitting the Children’s Book Bank and mentorship hours donated to Girls Learning Code, the Canadian intern team has left its impact this summer on the next generation of learners.

Children’s Book Bank – Cisco National Book Drive:

Reflecting back now on the initial chat about starting an intern charity initiative across Canada almost seems surreal. Nearly three months ago today, a notification popped up on my screen reminding me of an internship chat with a fellow intern that sat a few cubicles away from mine; Lily, that’s right. Sitting silently across from each other in our Cisco booth, I decided to break the ice reminiscing of the GVS Give Back day I attended the previous week. As the feelings of fulfillment resurfaced, we were inspired to continue giving back to our community; to support the education that enabled who we are today. Then it dawned on us, what would make more sense than building a CSR component specific to the EIC Internship program.

Jenny 1

We decided to make our ambition a reality. Within the chaos of project proposals, management approvals, and involving others, we finalized the first national charity initiative across Canada.

The objective was to support literacy in underprivileged communities within the country; as a result, we reached out to all intern-based offices including Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, and our own team in Toronto. With the assistance and support of our interns, the initiative was well underway.

Walking around the office, the posters were displayed in all corners showcasing our Cisco National Book Drive. At the beginning of this drive, we have forecasted our Toronto donations at approximately 100 books by the end of our 2 week timeline. But the Cisco family really pulled through, we were able to collect a total of 524 books in Toronto alone. Not to mention, nationwide, our interns were able to contribute over 700 books benefiting the Children’s Book Bank in Toronto and other disadvantaged communities in Canada.

Today, the Cisco National Book Drive held by the EIC interns has officially come to an end. A simple conversation surrounding the access to education kindled the beginning of change and development within Cisco and beyond.

Girls Learning Code – Intern Give Back Week

Jenny and I knew from the get-go that education would be our priority. Having successfully leveraged the power of books to inspire, the next step was to provide an outlet for expression. Working at Cisco, it made immediate sense that technology was the catalyst for this outcome. Code has little to no cost despite its immense potential to change the way that we live, work, play and learn.

Jenny 2

After scouring local charities, we found Ladies Learning Code – a nonprofit with a mission to enable women and youth to be builders of technology. Motivated by their mission and passion for the cause, we initiated a week long mentorship program at their Girls Learning Code Camp. Every day of the week, a group of Toronto interns acted as mentors for the campers leading them through technology related topics such as Google Glass, HTML/CSS and soft circuits.

At the beginning of this process, I would have never imagined the impact that a single day could have on both the mentors and the campers. The response from those who volunteered was overwhelmingly positive, and many spoke extensively about how quickly the kids were able to learn. The campers reciprocated the positive response, filling bags of “warm fuzzies” for each of the 22 mentors.

Beyond the 140+ hours contributed to the week-long camp, we’ve left a long term impact at Girls Learning Code. With the $1400+ we are able to donate through Cisco’s matching program, 3 children are able to break the barriers of their financial situation and attend code camp on a full scholarship. Moreover, with Ladies Learning Code receiving Cisco Approved status as result of this initiative, the potential contribution to the future of technology is limitless.

To say that the Canadian interns have contributed involvement in our community is an understatement. Through a national book drive and an intern giveback week, the FY15 interns have enabled development within the company and the future of our next generation. As we sipped what remained of our Americanos, a spark room message popped up on my phone, “Congratulations on the Cisco Matching Gifts approval, Ladies Learning Code is officially a Cisco-approved Charity”.

P.S. A special thank you to Willa Black, Jodi Munro, Kelly Smyth, Allison Dunlap, Trina Alexson  and our interns in Toronto and across Canada for providing their assistance and support throughout this initiative and really making this happen!

About the authors:


Jenny is currently a sales intern working out of the Toronto office. She is mainly supporting the Virtual Sales Team; her work at Cisco is focused around sales and strategy development to enable account planning for FY16. Starting in the fall, Jenny will be pursuing her second year of studies at Ivey Business School in Western University studying business management. As a self-proclaimed technology enthusiast, Jenny is passionate about IoE applications to education and retail. She is actively seeking ways to connect and collaborate with innovative thinkers, feel free to reach out to chat.

headshot lily huang

Lily is passionate about disruptive technology and education as a catalyst for social change. She is currently an intern on the enterprise sales team supporting a major global client and delivering planning insights to several key accounts. In the fall, Lily will be entering her third year at the University of Toronto studying strategy and finance. She actively seeks opportunities to engage with transformative technology and IoE so please feel free to connect and collaborate.

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  1. Great initiative! Proud to have been part of this journey!