Interview with Helen Burke, Intern at Cisco
Name: Helen Burke
Title: WWS Systems Engineer Intern
What inspired you to apply for the internship? Are you under a special internship (summer internship or department internship)?
I did the Worldwide Sales internship as a systems engineering intern. It is an internship scheme during the summer of your penultimate year of university, and has bases around the world. I was based out of the Cisco offices at Bedfont Lakes, just outside London.
I was looking for a summer internship as I liked the idea of being able to try out a career and company before I applied for a graduate job. I knew I was interested in working in the technology industry but had no experience or practical knowledge, so I was really interested in experiencing what it was like first-hand.
The Cisco internship was unique as it offered an opportunity to learn about networking without requiring lots of experience and had a strong customer focus.
Where did you see it advertised?
I saw it advertised online on their website.
What was the application process like? Did you have an interview? How long did it take?
I sent in my CV and had a telephone interview a couple of days later. I passed that stage and was invited to the office at Bedfont Lakes for an interview a couple of weeks later. The interview was quite friendly and relaxed, they were interested in me as a person and my motivations for a technology role. I received my offer later that very same week, so the whole process was very quick.
What does a typical day look like? Who do you work most closely with and what sort of tasks do you do?
Typically, we worked in groups, with other interns on a different project each week. For the first half of the internship the sales and technical interns worked together, focusing on researching different accounts and presenting our findings. For the second half of the internship, the technical interns separated from the group, focusing on technical projects such as network architectures, demonstrations and a hackathon. The whole way through the internship, we worked closely with other interns, but were on the same floor as the graduates, who all helped us out with our projects.
What do you think you’ve learnt from your internship?
I have hugely improved my presentation skills through the internship. I have learnt to control my nerves and use them to give a better presentation. I found that treating it more like a conversation means I am more able to adapt to the situation and the people I am presenting to. I also learnt a huge amount about networking and Cisco products.
What advice would you give to people looking to apply?
Do it! It was a really great experience and a fun summer. Do not be discouraged by little knowledge of networking. I had no experience at all but I learnt a huge amount, and everyone around me was more than willing to help when I didn’t understand something.
What did you study at school?
For my A levels I did maths, further maths, chemistry and biology and AS history. I am currently studying maths at Durham University.