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Cisco Apprentice Hotseat: Risha

March 7, 2018

Risha Divyesh headshot NAW 2018

This week we’re celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2018! Over the coming days we’re catching up with Cisco Apprentices (of past and present) to find out about their experiences in the programme. In the second edition of our hotseat, we catch-up with Cisco apprentice Risha Divyesh…

1) What were your initial thoughts about doing an apprenticeship and what swayed you to apply?

Apprenticeships weren’t very highly rated when I was considering my options. However, I personally didn’t mind whether I carried on to gain my degree at university or headed into the world of work through the apprenticeship route. The factor that swayed my decision was how I would make my way to the area of work that I wanted to be in, which I was still confused about at that point. The thought of doing an apprenticeship put me at ease, as it has allowed me to rotate in different departments within the company, to find the role I best fit in.

2) Who has inspired you in your education or school life?

The person who inspired me was my old lecturer. She was the one who always told me that ‘No matter what stage you reach in life, you will always be learning something; if you’re not learning anything new, you’ve hit a dead-end and you need to change things up’.

3) How has that changed now that you are working and have started your career progression?

As well as those words from my lecturer, there are many Cisco employees who have inspired and motivated. They inspire me to want to better my knowledge and skills, so that even I can give back to the organisation.

4) What skills have you learnt or improved during your apprenticeship so far?

During my time on the apprenticeship, I’ve learnt more than I thought was possible within the year and a half I’ve spent at Cisco! I’ve been able to rotate around four different areas of the company, through all of which learning numerous techniques and methods of how they interact with the customers and the work that each of the departments do. I’ve managed to progress my technical knowledge by motivating myself to further my independent study. I’ve also challenged myself to improve my soft skills, by presenting in front of various audience sizes.

5) What is the greatest responsibility or opportunity that you have been given so far?

Presenting at Cisco SecCon for EMEA. This is an annual security conference we hold, where we have large groups of security specialists and engineers attending. I was given the opportunity to present my idea about different types of Chaining Attacks and how it will all link into the upcoming world of the Internet of Things. The astounding fact was that there was a larger audience than I was expecting, and by the end of the presentation, I was proud, rather than critical of myself. It was a worthwhile experience.

6) What ‘extra-curricular’ activities have you been involved or organised?

I chose to self study another Cisco qualification, which was different to the required ones set throughout the apprenticeship programme. I’m proud to say that I have studied and passed the exam for CCNA Security within a year of setting myself the goal. This extra-curricular activity has both helped my knowledge for security and provided me with useful skills I’ll be able to use when rotating around other departments in the company.

7) What is your proudest moment of the apprenticeship?

My proudest moment was also during Cisco SecCon for EMEA. I was able to present to a larger audience than I had been expecting. I was very happy with the way the presentation ended, and proud of my efforts before and during the event. The effort I’d put in to preparing, in order to overcome my nerves made all a worthwhile experience.

8) How has the apprenticeship programme benefited other aspects of your life?

The apprenticeship programme has also benefitted me in the fact that it’s improved my soft skills. I’ve become more open with my opinion and feel much more confident than the person I was when I started the apprenticeship.

9) Where do you see yourself in five years time from a career prospective?

In five years, I see myself as a Consulting Engineer, as this is the type of work that has best suited my knowledge and understanding. I am able to say this as I have been through different rotations and found that this is the type of work that I am best suited to, interest and speciality wise.

10) What has been the biggest thing that has surprised you/biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself since starting the programme?

The biggest surprise that has come to be since starting the apprenticeship is that I’m not as bad as presenting as I originally thought I was, and that the experience at SecCon has inspired me to want to continue trying to improve my soft skills in this area.

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