Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR Program: Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team

Providing hands-on opportunities for students and value for businesses

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Cisco Networking Academy students have the technical knowledge and communication skills that employers demand. Each year, top students from the United States and Canada are named to the “Dream Team” – and given the chance to gain real-world experience setting up massive networks at high-profile events like Cisco Live and the NBA All-Star Game.

What: IT talent to support major industry events

Each year, more than 160,000 students in the United States and Canada enroll in Cisco Networking Academy courses. They develop IT know-how and valuable problem-solving skills in preparation for jobs. In 2011, Cisco launched the Dream Team to give top students the chance to work side-by-side with engineers at the annual Cisco Live customer conference.

  • Dream Team members gain hands-on experience working under the direction of professional networking engineers
  • 1000 access points set up by Dream Team students at Cisco Live 2014 in San Francisco
  • 25,000 conference attendees supported by the 2014 Cisco Live Dream Team

How: Matching top students with real-world IT work

Students are nominated to the Dream Team by their Networking Academy instructors. Prior to an event, they set up wireless access points in the conference center and nearby hotels. Then they provide help desk support and network troubleshooting during the event.

  • 10 North American students are selected to the Cisco Live Dream Team each year
  • 20+ more students from the local area provide additional support
  • Dream Team members now do the same work Cisco Live once outsourced to contractors

Impact Multiplied

The Dream Team is a life-changing experience. It gives students an opportunity to work under pressure, network with industry professionals, and showcase their skills for potential employers. The program has expanded to other Cisco events and organizations, including the National Basketball Association (NBA).

  • 5 NBA events, including the 2014 and 2015 All Star games, have used a Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team
  • The Dream Team gives a company's employees an opportunity to mentor students and offer valuable learning opportunities
  • A Dream Team also supported Cisco’s 2014 Internet of Things World Forum in Chicago
  • Dream Team participants form a network of support and friendship, linked through social media, that lasts long after their work is done
  • Veterans, who often struggle to find meaningful work after their service, and women, who are underrepresented in the IT field, earn many spots on the Dream Team
  • “Several Wegmans network engineers attend Cisco Live each year. They were impressed to learn I would be working with the engineers and learning the “behind-the-scenes” workings for the event.” Erik Rockwell, 2012 Cisco Live Dream Team member, hired as a network support technician by Wegmans Food Markets in 2012

Employers: Find out how you can hire Networking Academy talent for your company.

Cisco Networking Academy Students Shine at NBA All-Star 2015 Students at NBA All-Star 2015
Top Students Gain Hands-On Experience at Cisco Live Dream Team at Cisco Live >
Students support the network at Cisco Live Program video
“Having the experience at Cisco Live opened the door for interviews. Right after that I started getting calls.”
— Dream Team member Ishia Ramtahalsingh, hired as a network engineer at eBay in 2014