By Austin Belisle
Technology has the power to connect more than just computers, routers, or switches. In the right hands, it can connect people from all corners of the world. And for 11 students from 11 different countries, this week’s Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders grand prize trip to San Jose, California is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do just that. As winners of the annual NetRiders competition, they have the chance to discover new IT career paths, network with industry experts, and learn how they can use their skills to someday solve the world’s most pressing social issues.
Current and recent Cisco Networking Academy students can compete in NetRiders, an interactive networking skills contest from May to October that motivates students to pursue future education and training in the technology field. During the competition, students take a timed theoretical exam, a Packet Tracer exam, and participate in a network simulation activity — hands-on challenges designed to put their knowledge of Networking Academy curriculum to the test.
This year, more than 10,000 participants from 111 countries competed, and the top scorers from 4 international competitions were awarded with the grand prize — a week-long trip to visit Cisco’s main campus in San Jose, California. The trip provides these students an amazing opportunity to tour labs on the Cisco campus, meet with engineers and industry leaders at Stanford University, and gain valuable, real-world advice from Cisco executives. Dylan Pedavoli, a winner from Australia, described the trip as an opportunity to “expand his horizon for new experiences, skills and challenges.” Another winner, Julie Hester of the United States, believes the trip “validates that networking is a field where she can be successful and is a great career choice.”
Monday, they eagerly followed Cisco employee Nicholas Choy through a maze of flashing lights and bundled wires, taking pictures with each excited step in one of Cisco’s main data networking centers. But, the most rewarding part of this week may be the students’ chance to “network” and build lasting relationships with career role models on Cisco’s campus. The connections they make with Cisco engineers and the Networking Academy staff this week may lead to exciting new internships or career opportunities in the near future.