Isabela Castrillon recalls overhearing conversations between parents and their freshman children on college move-in day. She eavesdropped as a mother reminisced about a professor who changed her world view and a father remembered how he and his friends founded a fraternity in college. Castrillon says she stood in nervous silence with her mom. Arriving on campus, she knew she could handle the academic rigor, but being the first person in her family to attend college, she was aware that she didn’t necessarily have the guidance she would need in order to succeed.
Castrillon made a concerted effort to find mentors and to attend networking events – even if she wasn’t sure how it would benefit her in the short-term. She joined the Corporate Mentor Program and was encouraged by the program director to attend a career fair. Even though she doubted anything would come of it, she bravely approached Nielsen at the fair and was invited to a private networking event. Soon, she found herself applying to its Leadership Development Internship. After a competitive interview process, Isabela was able to land the internship with an operations track.
Her work with Nielsen isn’t her only internship experience. Castrillon has also been a rotational intern at Holman Automotive Group, served as a marketing management intern at Raymond James, and acted as a campus brand ambassador for both KIND Snack and Amazon. These experiences soon led to other opportunities – such as being invited to participate in JPMorgan Chase’s prestigious Winning Women program, a conference spearheaded by the firm’s top performers who aim to inspire high-potential students from across the country.
While Isabela looks forward to graduation and beginning her professional career she realized that many of her peers seemed to be in fear of graduation. An economics major, Castrillon understood this may be, partly because, in her words, they “feared an economy they didn’t yet understand.” So she founded USF’s Young America genFKD chapter, an organization that promotes millennial financial literacy and economic education. Using her now-strong networking skills, Castrillon connected with community leaders to host events engaging over 500 students.
Today, Castrillon is the mentor. She volunteers at Academy Prep, helping at-risk students, providing free on-site tutoring, and holding weekly lectures.