Building my future in times of hybrid work
A guest blog from Laina Vincent
In my first year at college, I attended the all-girls work experience programme, learned about the Cisco Degree Apprenticeship, and fell in love with the idea of doing it. At the time, I didn’t know what to do after college, but I knew I didn’t want to go to university. So, as soon as I left college, I applied for a position and was granted the role.
Behind the screens
To join Cisco and come into my first major role during a pandemic was difficult. I felt very disconnected at the start because everyone was behind a screen, and I was working from home out of my bedroom; I really struggled to find a healthy balance between work and home life. I consistently struggled with picking up my phone every 20 minutes to look at social media and even opening my work laptop on the weekend to check what was happening the following week.
Time management and scheduling were my next big challenges. Due to work responsibilities and being flexible with my time, I found that I was wasting valuable time and not putting it into my QA work or other certifications. Sometimes I would have very busy days, whereas other days would be quiet, and I always struggled to put the quiet days to good use.
It’s all about the balance
The management team provided me with lots of guidance and supplied me with a lot of helpful advice and structure. There probably isn’t a perfect work-life balance; however, now I think I have been able to find a balance that works for me through practice and restrictions. I’ve learned to place my phone away and keep my laptop hidden on the weekend to relax completely and not focus on my workload.
I also have been able to overcome my time management and scheduling challenges by scheduling my weeks on Monday and filling in any gaps that can be used to get important work done. This has been super helpful and has allowed me to become much more productive.
Furthermore, I’ve loved having ‘Days for Me’ that are given to Cisco employees to allow everyone to take the day off to focus on themself and relax. I have used these days to meet up with other colleagues to play laser run or even just to catch up for a walk. These days have allowed me to shut off for an extra day and reset, ready for the week ahead.
The management team has also been great by providing us with fun fund days. These days are organised by each team and are filled with activities to bring the team together. My first fun fund day was filled with mini-golf and lunch on the lake. I loved being able to go out with the people I’ve only ever met on the screen.
At Cisco, we also have weekly check-ins using TeamSpace. This has always been a great way for me to communicate with my manager and report what I’ve been doing and any issues I need help overcoming. These check-ins always allow me to feel as though I am heard.
Successful apprentice in the hybrid world
The first piece of advice I’d give to apprentices or anyone who wants to join the programme is to try your best to stand out. Being behind the screen can mean that not a lot of people will notice you. When opportunities come your way, don’t turn them down because they will help get your name out there to management and other people in the business.
Also, remember that everything happens for a reason. If you don’t get a specific role you want to do and get, put somewhere you initially never thought of, it can lead you down a different path that can result in a better career for you. You’ll always learn new skills along the way and meet great people regardless of the role you’re in.
To those in the programme already, do your best to schedule everything into your calendars, including lunch, just so that people can see when you are busy and know what your days look like. If you ever have questions or are struggling in certain areas, reach out to other apprentices, too. They will always be able to answer your questions and help you out when you need it.
I have loved my time so far at Cisco and working from home. I have learned new things about myself and been able to grow my confidence in different areas.
For more information on the Cisco Apprenticeship Program visit the link below.