Transforming and improving the lives of our students and their families is central to the purpose of the mission of The University of Texas at Austin. As a public flagship university serving Texans from all backgrounds, UT Austin supports students and their families along their paths to achieving the American dream. As a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, a national alliance of public and private universities, we are working to expand college access and opportunity to highly talented lower-income students. This series of student stories highlights exceptional students who are thriving, pursuing their passions, and preparing to go out and change the world.
Meet Jesus Castellano, Class of 2018. An economics major in the College of Liberal Arts, Castellano is the first person in his immediate family to attend and even apply to college. As a student in the University Leadership Network and a dormitory resident assistant, Castellano has made the most of his four years on the Forty Acres. He is now preparing to graduate in May and start his dream job at Google this summer.
We spoke with him about his transformative experiences as a student at UT Austin.
What led you to UT Austin?
In high school I was encouraged to apply to the McCombs Future Executive Academy (MFEA) for rising high school seniors interested in business. That was my first exposure to campus, and I loved it! When it came time to pick a college to attend, I thought it would be a good challenge to come to UT Austin and see how I could grow as a person. The Jesus from freshman year is not the same Jesus that I am today. I have grown tremendously as a person these past four years!
How did you find your Longhorn community on campus?
I didn’t know many people when I arrived at UT, but I met a lot of friends in my dorm — Jester East’s seventh floor — my freshman year. I love working with people, so I applied to be an orientation advisor (OA) the summer after my freshman year and took the orientation advisor training course. I met so many amazing people serving on the Orientation Advisor Activities Committee and we are all still friends today. Now, I am on my third semester being a resident assistant (RA), and I love it as well.
What resources and support did you find on campus that helped foster your career?
Beyond the Tower (BTT) Gateway in Liberal Arts Career Services was really helpful and where I found out about the Google internship opportunity. I applied to over 20 internships, got rejected from the majority of them, and couldn’t believe that Google was the one I got! It was a surreal experience going to the Google New York office for the internship’s orientation and seeing everything the media depicts New York City as in real life. It was a very tough internship, but I grew throughout the whole summer.
Also, New Student Services was a great resource when I was a new orientation advisor in 2015. Through that program, they made sure we were prepared to advance beyond life as a student. All of the skills I learned as an orientation advisor I used during my internship at Google: good people skills, the importance of building rapport, always keeping a positive attitude, putting in hard work and the results come out well.
What was one of your favorite experiences during your time at UT?
Without a doubt, my favorite experience at UT was getting the opportunity to study abroad in Mexico City at El Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Campus Ciudad de México. As a ULN student, we participate in experiential learning opportunities, and I got to study abroad my junior year. It helped me realize a lot of things about myself that I wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, I am capable of being independent and on my own, and am more adventurous and spontaneous than I thought.
I was also able to meet some of my extended family in Monterrey for the first time. I did fun stuff I never thought I would do like zip-lining, paragliding, snorkeling and climbing a pyramid. I recommend that every student study abroad. It was the best part of my college experience.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I accepted a position working for Google in Ann Arbor, Michigan, starting in July. I am going to be an associate account strategist working with Google’s AdWords clients, and I found out I got the job on the first day of classes last fall. I am so excited, and my parents are extremely happy for me! They can’t believe how much I have accomplished.
Before I start working, I am planning a backpacking trip to South America this summer to visit countries like Brazil, Argentina and Chile. I want to expose myself to different Latino cultures that are different from mine and learn about their way of living.
If you could give one piece of advice to students with similar backgrounds, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of being underestimated. I have come across some people that didn’t think I would be successful in life because of my background.
People question whether or not I should even be in college. I say prove people wrong, don’t give up and stay humble.