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My Intern Experience with Cisco Research

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My name is Christopher Vattheuer, I am a Canadian undergraduate student at the University of Manitoba. I am currently interning with Cisco Research in the Emerging Technologies & Incubation group, and I am loving the experience. I thought I would document some of the key events of the internship and my overall experience so far for anyone else interested in applying.

Applying to Cisco Research 🔗︎

Prior to my internship with Cisco, I had some research experience coming from work in Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Vision and Internet of Things labs at both the University of Manitoba and the University of Waterloo. Though I really enjoy research, particularly the impact it can have, I had yet to be involved with the business side of Computer Science. Through a kind referral of my resume from a previous employer, I was put in touch with Cisco Research to be considered for doing industry research. For me, this was a very exciting opportunity as Cisco ranks very high on those “Best Companies to Work For” lists. Additionally, the role sounded like a great balance between doing what I love and trying something new.

For my interview with Cisco, I talked with Ali who I later found out I would later be working with. We discussed project directions and I was immediately interested. I could tell that Ali was very smart and driven and overall, just someone I’d enjoy working with. Additionally, the project direction was something I could feel proud to work on as it would really benefit a lot of people.

Getting Started with Cisco Research 🔗︎

Getting started with Cisco was a fairly simple process. I filled out my onboarding information and Cisco sent me a very nice laptop and some nice company swag. Due to the global pandemic, I found out I would be completing my internship remotely.

Of the four jobs I have had in Computer Science, three of them have been remote. Initially, I was a little disappointed to find out I’d be working remotely with Cisco and not in person with the broader research team. It would be a great experience to be working in person, but I must say that Cisco’s WebEx which is used for video calls has left me feeling more than satisfied. There are weekly meetings and lots of WebEx video calls, so you never really feel alone and are always connected with your team. Additionally, there are always interesting seminars and presentations going on. In my first week, I attended a presentation about telling stories with data and found myself applying what I learned there throughout my work term. I also enjoyed going to these presentations where you could listen to the leaders of startups describe their new businesses, and I had a lot of fun learning more about their endeavors. The team is based all over North America as well so I love how we can leverage technology to all be together virtually.

Cisco Intern Life 🔗︎

I think the biggest strength that the Cisco Research team has going for it is its people. They are an impressive group that is passionate about their work. I remember that early on in the internship, I was actually pretty nervous to talk to team members. This anxiety was furthered when I realized that almost everyone I would be working with had a Ph.D. After a very short time of getting to know the team members, I felt much more comfortable as they are all welcoming, helpful, and even available to just chat about their projects. I learned a lot about Security and Ethics, interesting topics in AI, GANs and Computer Vision, Quantum Computing, and even how the Sci-Fi movie ‘Arrival’ had it right all along. I appreciate how everyone has taken the time to chat with me and even put up with some of my sometimes silly questions.

I am someone who enjoys variety and working with my manager Ali has been very dynamic. I have done a variety of tasks including literature searches, code design, code review, front end, back end, presentations, test code and more. There is always something new to learn and the experience I am getting working alongside Ali has been invaluable. Seeing how Ali approaches problems and getting feedback on my own work from him has really helped me grow as a researcher, a Computer Scientist and a person. I always feel as though my input is valued and can shape the design of the project.

Overall I can say if you enjoy research, variety and working with a fantastic great group of people then definitely consider applying to intern with the Cisco Research team! You can learn more about internship and new grad roles at Cisco on our Careers page.

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