2020 Cisco MentorMe Program

Cisco Mentor ME

The Cisco MentorMe program was a unique opportunity to develop my personal brand and achieve my goals with the guidance of a mentor who has years of experience in the industry, says AUT software development student Bernadette Cruz.

Why did you decide to apply for the Cisco MentorMe Program?

The Cisco MentorMe program sparked my interest as the program's main goal is to educate and encourage women to pursue roles in the IT industry. I thought it would be really encouraging to listen to the experiences of women in IT leadership roles. I was also interested in the idea of having a mentor who has years of experience in the field to guide me and learn from their experiences. I wanted to personally develop the skills to make myself more employable and to gain a better understanding of the type of IT career I want to pursue.

What does the program offer?

I was assigned a Cisco employee as my mentor for the program’s duration and arranged regular in-person meetings with them. These meetings allowed me to get to know my mentor better and to share my goals with him. My mentor was there to support, guide and provide feedback to anything I wanted to learn about. This could be learning more about Cisco and the industry, working towards personal goals, improving my CV, and conducting mock interviews. As a mentee, there is even the opportunity for job shadowing and to gain a better understanding of a specific role in the industry.

Along with the mentor meetings, I attended the mandatory weekly sessions held in the Auckland Cisco Office where I had the opportunity to talk and connect with the other mentees. We also participated in online meetings with the other branches through Cisco's conference tool called Webex.

The Webex meetings ranged from:

  • A panel of speakers with varying roles talking about their experiences and their journey in the IT industry.
  • Discussions about Cisco's culture and the work they do, as well as the internship and graduate positions they offer.
  • Workshops to improve our personal brand and employability - developing resumes, LinkedIn, etc.
  • A Q&A section was held at the end of each session, where any mentee can ask questions.

Who was your mentor and what did you learn from the mentoring experience?

My mentor Tony Unkovich is an Enterprise Account Manager at Cisco. Even though I was looking to head into a software developer path, I got to learn more about his role, which focused primarily on sales and how different roles in the industry connect. It widened my perspective of the other fields and helped me understand how different roles could be applied to my chosen area.  I also accompanied Tony to one of  his meetings which s was a unique learning experience as I got to watch a professional meeting take place.

The great thing about joining the MentorMe program is that my network was extended to not only my mentor but to the other Cisco employees. If I wanted to learn more about a particular topic my mentor could connect me to another Cisco employee with more experience in that field. I also learned how to improve my CV and picked up some tips on interviewing by watching an actual interview take place. We also had sessions on the importance of developing non-technical/soft skills which are essential to any career path.

Why would you encourage other students to apply for this programme?

I would encourage female students who are interested in learning more about the IT industry to apply for the program even if they are not studying towards an IT field! Not only do the mentees receive guidance from their mentor, but being part of the MentorMe program also opens up their network to the other friendly employees at Cisco who are happy to help - I always felt welcomed everytime I went to the Cisco office!

Submit your mentee application by 31 July here.