Q&A: Vanesa Fernanda Carrillo (B’23) on Leaving Your Comfort Zone and Exploring Opportunities as a First-Generation Student
Georgetown McDonough joins the nation in commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate, we are spotlighting several of our exceptional students of Hispanic heritage in the McDonough community who are creating impact and exemplifying the Georgetown spirit through their academics, careers, and personal lives.
After taking a leap of courage to travel away from her hometown of El Paso, Texas, to Washington, D.C., to pursue her bachelor’s degree at the McDonough School of Business, Vanesa Carrillo (B’23) has embraced opportunities to leave her comfort zone and try new experiences. Now, as a senior, she’s committed to helping other rising Georgetown students do the same. Through serving as a senior mentor for the Georgetown Scholars Program and as a peer career advisor at the McDonough Undergraduate Career Development Center, Carrillo has given back to her peers and the Georgetown community in immeasurable ways. We spoke with Carrillo about her experiences as a first-generation student, the individuals along the way who have made her time at Georgetown unforgettable, and what she’s to accomplish in her next chapter beyond the Hilltop.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
To me, Hispanic Heritage Month means celebrating the many contributions Hispanics have made to the United States to improve and better our community. All of our diverse cultures have played a very important role in making America what it is today, and Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight the stories of the hardworking and passionate people in our community and culture.
Why did you choose to pursue your undergraduate degree at Georgetown McDonough?
While I was originally set on staying in my home state of Texas for college, the extensive learning opportunities, renowned professors, and the diverse community on campus helped me decide to leave for D.C. and pursue my degree in marketing at Georgetown.
What are your career goals? How has your experience at McDonough helped you achieve your professional goals?
The business school offers so many opportunities for students to learn and explore different career fields. Through the business school I have met many mentors, professors, alumni, and other students that have guided me in my undergraduate journey. It is through the conversations and other learning experiences such as study abroad opportunities and career fairs that I have been able to define and achieve my personal and career goals.
Upon graduating from Georgetown, I plan on working in marketing at Microsoft. I also hope to continue mentoring first-generation students and sharing advice and career experiences through my YouTube and TikTok channels.
Are there any professors or mentors in the McDonough community that have made an impact on your experience at Georgetown?
There are a few professors and mentors that have helped shape my experience in the business school. Professor Jennifer Logg was such a supportive mentor, offering guidance and helping me shape my path as a business student. The concepts taught in Professor Logg’s class were very applicable to life, not only business, and I feel that I was able to extract and apply a wealth of insight and value to my own life and career development.
One other professor who has been very impactful is Charles Skuba. I was always excited to go to class and discuss such interesting marketing topics. He was also very supportive of my internship search and application journey. Last but not least, someone who has guided me these four years has been my advisor, Dean Justin Smith. He was always willing to help when I felt overwhelmed or when I needed advice surrounding my classes and internship selection. I felt incredibly supported and guided along my undergraduate journey because of all of my mentors at the business school.
Outside of your academics and career, are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
On campus, I really enjoy sharing my journey and helping other students meet and unlock their potential by offering guidance and insight into the business school, programs, and career opportunities. Outside of my academics and career, I am involved with the Georgetown Scholars Program as a senior mentor to freshmen. The Georgetown Scholars Program and the Community Scholars Program aim to help underprivileged first-generation students at Georgetown succeed academically and professionally.
Aside from this, I work in the McDonough Undergraduate Career Development Center as a peer career advisor where I help students revise their resumes, conduct mock interviews, and guide them in their career and internship discovery.
What is one of the most important lessons you have learned while at Georgetown?
One of the most important lessons I have learned at Georgetown is to not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. As a freshman, I remember being a bit afraid of trying new things and failing at them. However, it is that risk-taking that allowed me to gain fruitful experiences as a student. The decision to be willing to try things outside my sphere of knowledge has helped me get to know myself better, increased my confidence, and defined my path forward.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Georgetown community?