SAN DIEGO – Not everyone here at the Cisco Live conference came to learn networking at a seminar. Some, like Quebec’s Guillaume St-Georges, came to learn by putting the wireless network together that serves the thousands of attendees.

The 23-year-old was one of 10 North American networking students – and the only Canadian – chosen by Cisco from 85 nominees to work with its engineers setting up 300 access points around the convention centre and in the lobbies of nearby hotels for the convention.

I interviewed him Monday, the day before his departure back home to Gatineau. His knees were aching from kneeling on floors laying out cabling and his feet hurt from the long days, but he has no regrets.
The opportunity to chat with top Cisco engineers was well worth it, he said. “It was a really good learning experience. We’ve had some top Cisco engineers taping wires with us. Everyone’s doing the same job because it has to be done … We weren’t slaves. Everyone was doing hard work.”

An IT student in the third year of networking at the Cegep de l’Outaouais, he was nominated by one of his instructors for what Cisco calls its ‘Dream Team.’ The idea is to give a group of students an idea of what it’s like to erect a state-of-the-art network operations centre for large event.

To win a spot nominees had to write several short essays explaining why they wanted to be on the team, as well as a short video to demonstrate their ability to communicate.

Stephanie Kelly, one of the Cisco staff who chose the team members, said nominees not only had to show technical aptitude and desire, they also had to show they have the ability to work with well with others.

In March St-Georges said he was “overwhelmed” to learn he was one of the winners.

The work here wasn’t a simple as plugging in a bunch of access points. “For the first two days we were missing some documentation, so we did it once and it wasn’t working, so we had to re-cable it…But it was fun.”

Monday night he was scheduled to meet Ottawa-area Cisco partners and customers for dinner, one of the perks set up by the company. With any luck, he’ll make a contact that will lead to a job.

One other thing: One of the perks for the students is they can write a Cisco certification exam for free, a $300 saving. St-Georges wrote his Cisco Certified Networking Associate test Monday. He passed.
(ITWorld Canada photo)

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