Giving Students a Smart Start on Their Professional Journeys

At Extreme, we pride ourselves on our culture of giving and we frequently look for opportunities to dedicate time and resources to support causes and communities when needed. Recently, many of these activities have centered around helping young people adjust to post-pandemic life. In this new remote environment, opportunities for live, hands-on experiences are limited or often unavailable for students looking to take the next step in their professional journeys.

In an effort to expand opportunities for local students, Extreme’s Ireland Team initiated the Smart Start Transition Year Program. The intent was to create a valuable learning experience for our next generation of talent by exposing students to potential career paths by providing demonstrations and firsthand knowledge, and helping students build connections.

Throughout November 2022, weekly in-person sessions were hosted at the local Shannon office. Students from schools across the mid-west of Ireland participated and gained insights into the many potential career opportunities at a global technology company like Extreme Networks, including technical, financial, and operational roles:

Session 1: CFO Remi Thomas welcomed students on their first day, after which VP of Finance Padraig Hayes provided an overview of the business and how a financial career path could develop in a global organization. The local IT team then shared what a career and life in IT involved and their experiences at Extreme. The day ended with students designing their own smartwatch apps.

Session 2: The Extreme Academy Team created student-friendly 101 lessons of fundamentals such as binary, coding, and other technical subjects to create an interest in a network engineering career. In the second part of the session, supply chain team members walked students through their careers in operations and at Extreme.

Session 3: The sales team shared what it’s like to work in different sales roles, using Extreme’s partnership with Manchester United as an example of an exciting project they were able to work on. Next, Senior Director of DEI Initiatives and Partnerships Demetrius Cunningham provided insight into the importance of company culture and potential career opportunities in DEI roles. Finally, CIO John Abel walked students through his career in IT, and Chief Administrative and Sustainability Officer Katy Motiey gave an overview of the legal side of business.

The Smart Start Transition Year Program enabled massive collaboration amongst the wider, global Extreme community, including different departments and individuals of varying seniority. More importantly, we accomplished our goal of introducing students to new paths they can pursue as careers and sparked interest in technology and STEM. We are also proud to note that of the 13 students who participated, half were young women – an encouraging thought in the movement to increase female representation in STEM fields.

Hear what the students had to say about their experience:

“I wanted to learn more about IT and how Extreme runs as a global company. The group activities and hands-on projects we held were fun, and after participating in the program I would consider working for an IT company like Extreme.”

“There are very few companies who offer work experience, especially in networking. Extreme is a growing and exciting company. I loved hearing from the employees how passionate they were about their jobs and learning about sectors I didn’t know existed. My key takeaways were understanding that you don’t have to stay in the same job forever and can explore different careers, and that valuing employees makes a company successful.”

“My greatest takeaway from the program is you don’t need a set plan for your career. We met many people from Extreme who all had different professional journeys. Some took the college route while others spent longer figuring out what they wanted to do. Whatever career you choose or what you study can be adapted to different roles; you are always learning wherever you go.”

“I chose Extreme for the Smart Start Transition Year Program because I was unsure which career path I wanted to follow. I’m always interested in learning and thought Extreme could teach me the basics of IT and finance. The whole program got my brain working. My favorite part was discovering how to read and write binary – I feel that in the future it could be beneficial to know no matter what career I choose. Learning about the different jobs available at the company really opened my eyes to all the possibilities.”

 Extreme Smart Start Event 

Plans for the Smart Start Transition Year Program to rerun in February 2023 are underway, and we hope to further develop the program to promote STEM for girls, encourage early introductions to technology careers, and set the foundation for other teams at Extreme to replicate the program in different parts of the world.

Early career development plays a crucial role in the success of students, and serves as a powerful tool to bring people together and bring about change. I am so proud of our team for their efforts in driving this initiative and look forward to running the program again!

About the Author
Fiona Rellis
Director of Accounting

Director of Accounting

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