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Member Spotlight: Cisco Veteran Talent Incubation Program (VTIP)

Cisco is well-known for creating bridges through its technology which helps connect people and things to the Internet, transforming the way we work, live, play and learn. In order to grow its business, Cisco depends on having access to qualified IT talent and recognizes the value veterans bring to their workforce. The company regularly hosts veteran-focused events to raise awareness of the opportunities for transitioning service members to work in the technology field. In 2016, during IT Awareness Day hosted at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, Cisco managers who had volunteered at the event saw an opportunity to create a direct pathway for veterans to work at Cisco. As a result, a cross-functional team was assembled to create what became the Veteran Talent Incubation Program (VTIP).

Launched in August 2016, Cisco’s VTIP is a job pipeline for transitioning service members and veterans to provide the skills required for an entry-level Cisco Services engineer role. VTIP offers a pathway into a customer-facing engineering career at Cisco by providing a rigorous 20-week development program focused on technical and consultative skills. Participants who successfully meet all of the program milestones are eligible to receive a full-time offer as a Cisco Services Networking Engineer primarily in their Raleigh, NC office or potentially at other US Cisco offices.

Once candidates have been identified and gone through a full interview process, they are invited to participate in a “boot camp” incubation program. Over the course of the program, they have access to study material, mentoring, and coaching. One of the main differentiating factors about this program is that business partners commit up front to hiring candidates who successfully complete the program. Candidates are not put back into the general application pool, thus increasing their commitment to the program knowing there is a high likelihood of employment at the end of their training.

Two entry-level, technical network engineering roles are available to candidates who complete the VTIP training: Customer Support Engineer (CSE) and Service Consulting Engineers (CE). The ideal candidate is driven to continuously learn and take ownership to drive their career forward. It’s an added bonus if they have some networking experience/background. They must be willing to put in 15-25 hours of studying a week, attend 3 onsite days, and be able and willing to accept a full-time offer either in January or July.

The VTIP program has completely transformed my life.

Freddy Karban, VTIP graduate

The VTIP program is provided to veterans at no financial cost, though the time commitment is steep. Cisco provides them with access to , Cisco Networking Academy video training, a Safari Online Books subscription, a technical mentor from Cisco, 1:1 meetings every other week with the program manager, soft skills training, job shadowing, up to 2 vouchers for each CCNA exam, and technical talks on difficult topics. Upon completion, students will have received CCNA training, an ICND 1 and 2 certification voucher, mentoring, job shadowing and corporate culture training.

To identify candidates, Cisco taps into its connections at several bases within NC including Ft. Bragg, Camp Lejeune, New River Air Station, Joint Forces Headquarters, Wounded Warrior Project, USO, VETS ERO at Cisco, NC4ME, Whole Vet, and others. Since inception, over 375 candidates have applied to VTIP of which 140 have been accepted into the training. Over 40 of those candidates are now working at Cisco after receiving their CCNA certification. Cisco is currently looking at expanding VTIP into other business units as well as a focus on disabled veterans.