Feature Video

Preparing the future STEM workforce

by Kirsten Chiala

The United States needs STEM professionals and isn’t on track to fill the more than 1 million tech jobs that will be open by 2018. See how the MESA program is helping fill the gap, with the help of Cisco employees who have become valued mentors.

See also: Cisco mentors fuel the future of new hires

See also: Mesa Program

 Video Transcript








The Cisco MESA Program, it provides me with the encouragement to apply to positions here at companies like Cisco and not feel intimidated.

I felt encouraged by the speakers that MESA and Cisco provided me.

it eventually led into a job opportunity




My mentor, Cheryl, has gone over a lot of things from just how to be effective in the industry and how important being a social person is and communication skills.


We meet at the same place every two to three weeks and we spend about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes together we've developed a pretty good relationship.

He's a mechanical engineer. I'm not. I'm a business major, management major. I says we need to clear this one up right out of the gate. I don't want to disappoint you but I'm not a nerd.


The MESA Program has been there for 45 years and it's been helping students get into STEM and excel in STEM. MESA Programs are in centers and campuses and they recruit students who are education disadvantaged but have the opportunity to excel in STEM.

It's academic but also non-academic experience where they learn things that are like what you call soft skills.

The first one we started tackling together was actually his resume. When we first started looking at that it was a typical high school looking resume and, I was looking for more leadership skills.

So we started talking about okay, what kind of volunteer work do you do, what activities are you doing at college? And it turns out he's one of the leads in his fraternity.

It's really awesome having teachers especially that work in the industry and then they really kind of figure out how to teach you ways that really applies to the industry.

I think the fact that Cisco gives us the time, to work with kids is really good. We're investing in these kids and they're local.

If I could tell anybody to anything, the program is really self-propelling. We get a lot of coaching on how to work with the kids, and the kids get a lot of coaching on how to work with us.