E5 - Kori Younger at Cisco

Maddy Norris
Kori Younger

By Maddy Norris & Kori Younger

Our host Maddy Norris was joined by Kori Younger, the Associate Systems Engineer at Cisco. After speaking with Rita Younger in episode 2, we were lucky enough to get the chance to speak with her daughter, Kori. From someone fairly new in the space, Kori tells us about her experience being a woman in a very male-dominated industry, both the highs and lows.

When she was younger, she wanted to just be better than her older brother and have that healthy sibling competition. He wanted to be a doctor, so she thought she wanted to be a doctor too which led her to the University of Missouri to do a Pre-Med Major.

The inevitable happened and she realised it wasn’t the right path for her and didn’t end up finishing the degree. In 2017, she had to think about her options if she wasn’t going to do medicine anymore. Her mum started taking her to conferences and she wound up going to HP Discover, VM World and Cisco Live that year. While at Cisco Live, she selected her major in Information Systems and Cyber Security, which is what she ended up graduating with. The transition wasn’t easy, but it was doable and ultimately got what she wanted in the end.

During her studies, she took on a variety of work opportunities. She started an internship at CDW which ended in the fall, meanwhile, she was working on Total Packets for the entire duration of her studies. When she was finishing her studies, she took on her first full-time role which was a bit of a pivot away from the IT industry as it focused on Industrial Automation.

Working alongside your major, especially if it’s into what you’re studying, it’ll be hugely beneficial. If you want to be prepared to jump into the field, you need to be doing something outside of school.

Her degree, as much as it was hugely important, didn’t prepare her for her first role because she was very much focused on traditional networking and her degree was very cyber security focused. In fact, her degree didn’t prepare her for the role she’s in now. It opened up the doors to being able to get to where she is now, but she got most of her knowledge through research and the people around her.

Bringing you to the present day, Kori is currently in a program with Cisco called CSAP (Cisco Systems Associate Program). The program is designed to kickstart your career as a Systems Engineer. It’s a 12-month program so, in her first 6 months, it was a Bootcamp, so was all learning orientated. She learned all Cisco architectures, products and offerings alongside hands-on learning and getting put into customer-based scenarios. In the last 6 months, they go into tech specialist roles, so she is currently working as a data centre specialist.

Kori considers herself very lucky. She has all of her certifications paid for, so she is currently CCNA certified, DevNet Associate certified and has her Certified Enterprise Networking Specialist certification. Certifications, for Kori, are the best way to learn and establish your credibility and are majorly important when you’re starting out.

“It’s easy for anyone to look at you when you walk into a room, being young and also a female and obviously I look different than the engineer sitting across the table from me most of the time, but when we pass our exams and validate our knowledge, it bridges a gap naturally”.

Kori shares some of her best advice on how and why any woman should get into the industry and what amazing opportunities are out there for any woman who is interested. Make sure to give the full episode a listen now!