Cisco Portugal Blog

Rotational Summer Internship with Olga Silva

September 13, 2023

As a master’s student in my final year of Computer Science and Engineering, this was my last summer before entering the professional tech world. So, I felt the urge to search for a summer internship that could provide an enriching experience, bridging the theoretical gaps that often exist within universities. My search led me to an incredible opportunity at Cisco: a two-month summer internship as a Software Engineer, featuring a unique rotational experience that allowed me to work with two different teams.

This rotation feature provided me a distinct internship experience compared to a traditional one. Working with two teams meant I experienced everything twice – onboarding, welcome kits, team lunches, team daily meetings, presentations, team connect activities, and more. However, this also required a significant improvement in my time management and adaptability skills, enabling me to efficiently do tasks with each team and transitioning from one project to another.

During my first month, I had the privilege of joining ThousandEyes, an acquisition by Cisco, that offers software for network performance analysis. My manager, Sérgio Freitas, and mentor, Phellippe Lima, along with the entire team, made my onboarding process incredibly smooth. What’s noteworthy is that I wasn’t selected for this technical internship solely based on my existing knowledge of various technologies, rather, Cisco valued my ability to connect with people and assimilate its culture and values. They believed that technical skills can always be taught, and they provided me with the time and opportunities to undergo training as needed for my tasks.

As I delved into my work, I truly felt like a team member, participating in daily meetings, engaging in discussions with my colleagues, having my code reviewed by experienced peers, and deploying my changes into staging and production environments. This lack of distinction between an intern and a regular team member was a major source of motivation and job satisfaction for me.

When my first month was concluded, I had the fun experience of celebrating it with my ThousandEyes team over a chocolate cake. Moments like these make you feel appreciated and part of the family, and I extend a special thanks to my manager, Sérgio, for this thoughtful gesture.

My second month was spent with Cisco IT. My manager, Helena Grguric, and mentor, Miguel Mendes Jorge, played a crucial role in ensuring a seamless transition between teams. Remarkably, I had the opportunity to meet the team even before officially joining them. During my first week, they “borrowed” me for a day from ThousandEyes and included me in their team connect activity, which involved snorkelling in Sesimbra, Portugal.

In this team, I was surrounded by younger team members divided into “sub-teams”, giving me the chance to gain insights into their respective roles within Cisco. Their willingness and kindness in explaining and enlightening me about their work went beyond my expectations. After all, I was just an intern with a limited four-week stay, but that’s the distinctive culture at Cisco – everyone is treated as a valuable member, regardless of their time with the company. In this team, I was involved in two distinct projects, which made the second part of the internship fun yet challenging.

Cisco provided me with a set of opportunities that transformed these two months into an incredibly enriching experience, surpassing all my initial expectations for the internship. In addition to contributing with code, I had the privilege of presenting a Tech Talk to the ThousandEyes engineers, engaging in one-on-one discussions with IT leaders, participating in an event hosted by the Emerging Talent Community where I had the chance to meet and speak to leaders, joining team connect activities, delivering a capstone presentation about my internship to Cisco leaders in Portugal, and, last but not least, doing this blog post. At Cisco, every employee has the freedom to shape their own path and access a diverse array of opportunities, which contributes to personal and professional growth.

Despite being a short-term intern with limited experience, I felt valued by the teams I collaborated with and was encouraged to embrace new opportunities with confidence. I believe my managers and mentors played a pivotal role in this success, guiding and supporting me throughout this journey. This internship was an incredible learning experience, and the rotational aspect made it more challenging, which was precisely what I needed. It was truly a pleasure being part of the Cisco family.