Summer Internship with Cisco Systems

This article is part of Summer Stories, a special, online issue of Dukengineer Magazine, in which students wrote about their experiences in the Summer of 2007 during their time away from Duke.

by Prad Nadakuduty, ECE/ECON ‘09

cisco.jpgI remember the moment that I began to want a summer internship. It was in the middle of Winter Break during an 8 hour marathon of bad VH1 shows that I realized how utterly bored I was. I told myself I couldn't let this happen to me over the summer. I had just declared my major in Electrical & Computer Engineering the previous semester and was eager to put my skills to the test. So when classes started again in January, I pulled up my dusty resume, sought help from the Career Center in updating and editing it, and spent the next three weeks applying to as many tech companies as I could find. About two weeks, two interviews, and plenty of paperwork later, I had proudly sealed an internship with Cisco Systems, the world’s leading IP network provider, at their headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

I was placed in the Human Resources Information Technology group, whose primary purpose is to provide technology and business solutions to help drive business in the Human Resources sector. The first two weeks were spent talking to different project managers and deciding which projects most piqued my interests. I certainly did not expect the freedom to choose my own project, but the flexibility allowed me to seek the opportunities I was looking for.

For the rest of the summer, I worked primarily on two projects; the first was a database management project in which I helped develop archiving schemes for terabytes upon terabytes of important data. It was a great learning experience working as a software engineer in such a dynamic environment. I got a crash course in UNIX and picked up some Oracle along the way. It was the nitty gritty engineering experience I had been seeking.

My other main project was developing a proof-of-concept for a new portal to streamline the college recruitment process. Having just gone through the recruitment process myself, I was able to provide a fresh perspective to my group and make key recommendations. I had the chance to work with other interns and gave a final presentation in front of almost two dozen directors and VPs. Our final proposal incorporated the dynamic Web 2.0 philosophies of user-generated content and peer-to-peer interaction between recruiters and interested candidates. At the end of my internship, I was given the chance to return to Cisco to continue working on the project and watch it get put into action.

My summer internship offered a great opportunity to apply my skills, develop my professional network, and see a new part of the country. While in California, I made some great new friends at Cisco and elsewhere. I even took a side job working as an aerobics instructor at an Indian Community Center. My summer at Cisco was a great experience, and I would recommend that anyone should pursue a summer internship as well.