Cisco Networking Academy Powers TechSoup's Own Tech Success

Like many before her, Francia Fajardo immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 2000, searching to achieve the American dream. For Francia, that meant finding a job, being with her family, and eventually getting her dream job at NASA (a dream she's still actively trying to achieve).

Despite already having earned her degree in computer engineering in the Philippines, Francia recognized that not many companies were hiring at the time she moved. Before she began her job search, she wanted to gain extra skills to make her more hirable. In the meantime, Francia found a part-time job at a record store. Earning minimum wage for many months, Francia yearned to put her degree to work and gain the extra skills she was looking for. Luckily, she heard of a nonprofit called JobTrain, which offers free job training to low-income individuals, and eagerly signed up. Francia then received training in the curriculum offered by the Cisco Networking Academy, an IT skills and career-building program. That training drastically changed the course of her life.

Cisco Networking Academy

In mid-2001, Francia was simultaneously finishing up class at the Networking Academy and working part time at the record store. She worked hard to balance being a student and working part time. Despite having to rush back to the record store after class every night, Francia managed not only to stay on top of her studies, but also to set herself apart. Francia did so well in a security administration course that her instructor encouraged her to help teach her fellow students. Francia finished the Cisco coursework in October and after even more months of rigorous studying, she finally earned her Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification in December. Recognizing her immense talent and undeniable hard work ethic, Francia's JobTrain counselor connected Francia to the manager of the product donation program at Cisco. In January of 2002, Francia was hired as one of Cisco's first vocational interns.

At the time of Francia's internship, Cisco was already partnered with TechSoup (then known as CompuMentor). Francia did a lot of hands-on work with the developing Cisco donation program. She also worked on automating the processes of the program, which later helped her transition her career from focusing on hardware to working with software. In late 2002, TechSoup and Cisco launched their official product donation program, Francia's internship ended at Cisco, and she traded in her part-time job at the record store for a full-time position at TechSoup.


Francia has been a dedicated member of TechSoup's team for 14 years now, most recently working with software, mainly the enterprise service bus, the enterprise resource planning system, and the rules engine. Francia's coworkers say it best, lauding Francia for "consistently rising to face a variety of technical and business challenges, and doing so with grace and charm. She has amazing powers of analysis, and she is able to figure out the often convoluted and sometimes mysterious issues of production support, always with a big smile." Trusted for her hard work and adored for her friendly demeanor, Francia is "always there for her colleagues with a smile and a helpful word. Forever professional, and smart as a whip! She is definitely someone you want on your team."

Attending Cisco Networking Academy and earning her CCNA certification opened a new doorway to endless opportunities for Francia. She recounts that "without the Networking Academy, I probably wouldn't have been a Cisco intern, and then I wouldn't have been in TechSoup. I wouldn't know where I would have ended up if not for that opportunity. Just having the basic knowledge of Cisco equipment paved the way for me."

Cisco Networking Academy shifted the course of Francia's career and consequently her life. At TechSoup, she continues to hone the skills she learned at Cisco, and with any luck will one day fulfill her dream of working at NASA.

*Note: While JobTrain no longer offers the Cisco academy program, it still offers many other job training programs for its participants. You can find out more about JobTrain at To find out more about Cisco Networking Academy, be sure to visit