Jess's diary entry - Summer 2012

Jess shares her experiences as one of Cisco’s first apprentices, which have included tough technical exams, working in different departments and being invited to high profile Cisco events.

Jess Quinn As an apprentice for Cisco, I often find myself busy studying for qualifications with our learning provider QA, or putting the study into practice at Cisco. I wanted professional qualifications with a practical application and Cisco offered the balance I was looking for. This is one of the many reasons I decided an apprenticeship in the network industry was right for me.

Working towards challenging qualifications

The apprenticeship is equipping me with the qualifications and experience I need to be successful in my career. It can sometimes be challenging, but for me that makes the experience more enjoyable. My ultimate goal is to gain invaluable skills and knowledge to create a career for myself as a project manager and starting as a network consulting engineer helps me on my way to gaining the qualifications I need to do this.

As a base skill set I am required to complete some mandatory qualifications within the first year, such as:

  • CompTIA+
  • CompTIA N+ (Networking)
  • Level 3 Diploma in ICT Professional Competence
  • Certificate in ICT systems and principles for IT apprentice
  • Advanced Diploma in IT

These qualifications will also help me to work towards my Cisco Certified Network Associate exam. This qualification requires me to study in my own time, using resources and materials provided by Cisco. I find the technical qualifications fairly difficult, for me this means putting in extra hours outside of work to achieve the expectations set for myself.

All these qualifications are enriching my skill set and make me increasingly valuable to Cisco and more employable in the industry.

The chance to experience work in different departments

I have also spent a majority of time working with the many different teams within Cisco Systems. This is one element of the apprenticeship I found extremely enticing, as it helps me in choosing my career path afterwards, build my contacts list and get a good feel for the many different parts of Cisco. So far, I found working in the labs and workings with the Focused Technical Support team the most interesting.

Another exciting aspect of the apprenticeship is having the opportunity to deal with real life networks. As an apprentice, obviously there are limits to what I can do with the network configurations, but having the chance to work with live equipment is excellent and once again, expands my skill set. This is vital in my role as the more I learn, the more employable I become.

Becoming high profile

As the apprenticeship scheme is new to Cisco we have a fairly high profile and therefore have to be conscious of our actions. I have had the opportunity to speak to influential people such as the ceo John Chambers and Phil Smith, European vice president, which demonstrates the value of the apprenticeship scheme to the future of Cisco.

Amazing opportunities

Some of the more exciting experiences I’ve had as a Cisco apprentice so far include working at the World Skills event, where the other apprentices and I had the chance to showcase Cisco equipment and tell our audience about the apprenticeship scheme and other opportunities at Cisco, and visiting the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to be shown how Cisco is working in partnership on the Olympics.

Another highlight was also being invited personally by the European vice president to Cisco Live; a massive annual event designed to showcase products and services provided by Cisco and their partners.

I would recommend this apprenticeship to anyone who has a passion for IT and networks. It requires hard work and dedication, but the career opportunities are phenomenal and with all the experience and qualifications I need to survive in the industry, there is really no stopping me! My goal in this apprenticeship is to lay the foundations for my career as a project manager, and the apprenticeship is starting me on the right track.