One of Cisco’s flagship volunteering programs, MentorMe, matches female university students with a mentor in the technology industry within Cisco for over nine weeks. Meeting weekly, and sometimes more, the students also participate in weekly professional development sessions to hear from experts in the industry on key topics across technology innovation, cybersecurity, and sustainability to name a few.

Growing from six students in the first year to now over 180 annually, the program aims to support women as they transition into a range of career pathways. It has seen over 700 students since it started in 2013. We spoke to a few mentees to see where they are now.

Mentee: Jamie

Mentor: Megan
Studying: Software engineering (Honours) at the University of NSW
Job: Full-time student, writing my thesis and finishing up my degree this year. I’m currently interning at Innovation Central Sydney developing software projects for various innovation clients.

I thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by so many women in the technology industry. The weekly sessions were great, but the mentor-mentee relationship is what I found to be the most valuable. I was struggling to navigate through some career decisions and Megan was extremely helpful during that time. We would talk for hours, always exceeding our meeting time slot. We’d share stories, mistakes, talk through challenges, and exchange helpful resources. Yep, we’re still in contact!

I learned about the power of being bold and reaching out to people you have never met before, but have careers that interest you. I reached out to one of the speakers and through that connection, an internship opportunity was offered to me at Innovation Central Sydney. I am now working on client facing projects, and learning a lot about user experience and user design. I am also receiving development opportunities as I am being mentored by Cisco’s global teams based in Washington and Seattle.

MentorMe supported my career trajectory, I gained so much confidence and found myself with a stronger understanding of where I want to be in the software industry.

Meet Samita

Mentor: Dave
Studying: Bachelor of ICT – information systems
Job: Automation engineering intern at Cisco

I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to grow through the MentorMe program. From the weekly sessions I learned a lot about personal growth, professional development, leadership skills, innovation, future strategy, and technology trends.

Dave and I had regular meetings that allowed me to get to know him better and tell him about my aspirations. Dave has always been willing to help, guide, and provide valuable advice throughout the programme. This including learning about the industry, working towards personal goals, improving my resume and conducting mock interviews.

My passion was always to create, develop and program efficient software designs, solutions, tools which provides continuous improvement and reduce manual work. Being part of the programme only made it more exciting to learn about Cisco’s current or future tech trends, and now I’m proud to be working as an automation engineering intern at Cisco.

MentorMe is an amazing platform for women who are interested in working in STEM fields. Each session provides a depth of knowledge in different areas and is a terrific approach to empower women in STEM.

I appreciate that Dave has still stayed connected with me even after MentorMe. He’s also taken time out of his schedule to check up on me by ensuring I am settling well in my new role here at Cisco.

Mentee: Eleni

Mentor: Marleese
Studying:Was in my first year of a double degree in the Bachelor of cybersecurity/criminology
Job: Information security officer at The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

I really appreciated how the program was female focused and allowed women an opportunity to see how they can find their own path in IT. My mentor was incredible, and her support was invaluable in me getting my job! My relationship with my mentor was amazing, not only did we match perfectly in terms of cybersecurity and interests, but we also happen to be neighbours! We have kept in contact over LinkedIn, and she was my referee for my job as an information security officer at the ABS.

I really appreciated hearing everyone’s experiences for imposter syndrome and I’m not the only person who feels as if I am not good enough in cybersecurity. I learnt to ignore that feeling and move ahead because I got to where I’m at now because of my merit and hard work, and I will continue to move forward because of that same merit and hard work. My mentor and all the guest speakers helped me realise this.


Meet Mandy  

Mentor: Mark
Studying: Master of information technology and system (Cyber Security)
Job:Security and access specialist at ACT Health

Coming into the program I had no idea what to expect as this is my first mentee experience, but I was excited as I know I will be learning heaps from the weekly topic. I have benefited so much personally and professionally from this experience. The weekly sessions with guest speakers really opened my eyes to the IT world and prepared me with job hunting and future interviews.

I found both the weekly catch up sessions with my mentor and guest speakers the most valuable. IT is such a broad profession, so it was helpful to hear from industry leaders and peers talking about their journey. I was anxious about picking the ‘right’ career now but soon realised that it is important to expand my horizon by trying different roles to find my true passion. Weekly catch ups with my mentor really helped me deep dive even more on the weekly topics, I present my learning and questions to my mentor, so I was able to really understand and upskill from the sessions.

I have a great relationship with my mentor and thankfully we are still in contact. I used to have this fear of applying for a new role because of various reason so I actually cried in one of our one on ones because I was feeling stuck. Mark listened to my concerns, reassured me and provided me with great advice that helped me successfully get into my current role. I will never forget the impact he had on me on that day and will be something I will be carrying for the rest of my life.