INTERVIEW: UC Santa Cruz graduate Kristina Dvorak’s insights on Cisco as an employer that values career growth

Dvorak: At Cisco, the environment encourages us to think about where we want to be in the future, rather than being confined to one role indefinitely.

In this interview, Kristina Dvorak, a recent graduate from UC Santa Cruz, provides insights into her successful job search process and her career at Cisco. She shares perspectives on what she values in her manager and her employer, who support her career growth by providing “stretch projects” to help her develop the skills she will need to reach new career objectives. The results have already been outstanding. Dvorak recently announced a promotion, which you can learn more by finding her profile on LinkedIn.

Graduating in 2022 with degrees in Business Management Economics and Psychology, Dvorak initially joined Cisco as a marketing specialist intern, where she gained experience in market analysis and research. Now (as of the time of this interview), as a marketing program manager at Cisco, Dvorak oversees the implementation of marketing strategies nationwide, focusing on outbound plays. She appreciates the supportive culture at Cisco, which allows her to explore her interests beyond her designated role while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Outside of work, Dvorak enjoys dancing and finds parallels between her creative pursuits and her career in marketing. 

Dvorak discusses her work and emphasizes the benefit of career growth at Cisco

The interview transcript, below, was edited for clarity and is based on a recorded interview with Dvorak.

Event planning as a creative outlet 

I initially pursued Business Management Economics to enter the business world but found the math-heavy focus less aligned with my interests. From my years as a competitive dancer and choreographer, I knew I wanted to find work with a creative component. In my junior year at UC Santa Cruz, I took a marketing class that ignited my passion for creativity in a business setting. At Cisco, I found my outlet for creativity through event planning by leveraging my psychology background to curate memorable experiences for attendees. 

Cisco’s event marketing encompasses various activities, with field marketers collaborating with sales teams to tailor events to specific regions or customer segments. We also have a dedicated global events team responsible for major events such as Cisco Live, Partner Summit, and Impact. Within these events, experience design plays a crucial role, in crafting immersive experiences for attendees, including lighting, layout, and ambiance. I find this work fascinating.

From life as a student to an employee – the role of the tech at UC Santa Cruz

I’ve found my learning experience at UC Santa Cruz greatly impacted by the various technological tools I used there. Platforms such as Canvas, Google Suite, and online video conferencing tools have been incredibly useful. Canvas helped me efficiently organize course materials and track progress while Google Suite facilitated group work and collaboration. Video conferencing tools also played a crucial role in remote learning. Over the four years of learning at UC Santa Cruz, our familiarity with tools used at the university for online classes helped me seamlessly transition into my role. Being able to effectively collaborate and communicate is vital in a remote workforce.

The relationship between internships and the recruiting process

My experience at Cisco over the past year has been overwhelmingly positive. When researching internship opportunities, I prioritized company culture that aligned with my values. Cisco has exceeded my expectations in that regard. I was grateful to be a part of Amplify, the accelerated marketing program that consists of 26 recently graduated students entering Cisco as full-time employees. Amplify created a supportive community for me during my transition into the workforce as I was surrounded by others who were also beginning their marketing careers. 

Regarding the recruitment process, internships are a great opportunity for students to secure a full-time role, especially at a Fortune 100 company like Cisco. Attending a university like UC Santa Cruz motivated me to network and make connections which ultimately helped me land a full-time job. I was able to connect with someone within Cisco’s brand marketing team in Santa Cruz, who helped me secure my first internship interview.

Cisco’s culture of exploration and acceptance

One of my favorite aspects of working at Cisco is the culture created by the people on and leading my team. I’m fortunate to have a supportive manager who genuinely cares about my career growth. What’s truly wonderful is the culture of exploration and acceptance at Cisco. It’s not just about the job I’m doing today; there’s ample support for exploring opportunities beyond my current role by working on stretch projects. This environment helped me foster growth and encouraged us to think about where we want to be in the future, rather than being confined to one role indefinitely. At Cisco, there’s a genuine emphasis on work-life balance, flexibility, and the opportunity to evolve professionally. That’s why I believe people stay here for the long term since there’s a supportive culture to grow in ways that align with your aspirations.

Since recording this interview, I have transitioned into a new role in the Small-Medium Business Field Marketing Team in the Americas. Coincidentally, this is the same team and manager I did my first stretch project with last year. Without the encouragement of exploring other marketing roles and teams from my prior manager, this opportunity would not have been open to me. I’m lucky to have landed in a team that is just as supportive and encouraging as my last, further exemplifying the wonderful culture in Cisco Marketing.

About Cisco

Cisco Systems, established in 1984 by Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, is a global technology conglomerate renowned for its networking hardware, software, and services. Specializing in designing, manufacturing, and selling networking equipment, Cisco has played a pivotal role in shaping the internet and enabling connectivity worldwide. The company’s extensive product line includes routers, switches, security devices, and more. Cisco’s prominence in networking technologies extends to its innovations in cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity, and collaboration tools, positioning itself as a leader in driving digital transformation across industries and enabling seamless communication and connectivity for businesses worldwide.

About Cisco at the University of California

Cisco provides routers and switches to the University of California. Learn more by the  IT Infrastructure Agreements, and Michael Wegmann, project lead for Cisco, and the Senior IT Category Manager for the Information Technology Strategic Sourcing Team.


Kristina Dvorak
Small and Medium Business (SMB) Marketing Manager
Michael Wegmann
Senior IT Category Manager 
UC Office of the President


Derek Shue

Derek Shue
Marketing Intern
UC Office of the President

Brendon Phoung
Brendon Phuong
Marketing Intern
UC Office of the President

Cover Image, AltText: Kristina Dvorak UC Santa Cruz Alum: “At Cisco, the environment encourages us to think about where we want to be in the future, rather than being confined to one role indefinitely.”