Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Mentoring in a pub…its work I promise

September 3, 2015

Standing in a crowded pub in central London surrounded by a group of young and far too talented looking student types I feel slightly intimidated…

It takes me a few minutes to remember that I am meant to be mentoring these bright sparks, helping to shape their raw talent rather than be intimidated by it.

It’s all part of a programme put together by two other young women in the Early in Career Network (ECN) team, Athina and Holly.

I try to remember how they talked me into accidentally giving away that I know far too little about the complicated world of Cisco to some far too clever youngsters but instead I remember the more interesting story about how they created this scheme in the first place.

As relatively fresh graduates and newly part of the Cisco family, Athina and Holly were keen to find a way that students could learn from established Cisco experts on the obvious questions that most students have, but that are rarely answered through traditional higher education:

  • What’s all this job application stuff about anyway?
  • How do I manage my time & stress (both at University and afterwards!)
  • Having recently dropped my main goal of being an astronaut or fireman, how do I plan my future career ambitions?
  • How do I develop my presentation and interpersonal skills?
  • How do I gain a deeper understanding of the industry, and in fact, what you lot do each day!

It doesn’t just go one way though. As I was swiftly finding out one of the best ways to develop your own skills is to actually coach, help and listen to other people’s needs, hence why they created the University Mentoring Programme (UMP).

It’s also a great opportunity for Cisco to become better known to this new crop of graduates, not that any of them seemed to need help with that tonight. I get the feeling they had all done their homework rather well. Saying that though we offer a range of internships, CSR programmes and Graduate schemes and it’s important that these youngsters know the opportunities that are available for them at one of the world’s leading tech companies.

This initial pilot with 17 students from UCL (University College London) is just the beginning. Next year the programme will be expanding to other Universities throughout the country and ‘mentor-mentee meet ups’ like this one will become much more commonplace.

If none of this lot have taken my job by then I’ll be sure to report back to you!

For more information on the Cisco University Mentoring Programme please contact Athina Pachatouridi ( and Holly Miles (

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