For years, Karolina Muñoz watched her father struggle working in a factory while her mom raised their family. She wanted to help her parents and be a role model for her four younger siblings. However, growing up in Cicero, Illinois was challenging because the town lacked opportunities and resources for youth.
Trying to study in her home was also an issue because it was often noisy with her siblings playing and extended family coming to visit. She knew that in order to become successful she would have to move beyond her community. Karolina decided to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing at The University of Illinois of Chicago (UIC).
She chose UIC because she wanted to be in a diverse and challenging environment that would help her grow. Since then, Karolina has been commuting from her home in Cicero to UIC. Despite the long commute, she juggled her classes and student leadership opportunities. However, after three years, the commute began to take its toll on her.
“The more involved I got on campus and the more challenging my classes became, I realized that I had to find a solution to my long commute in order to prevent my academics from suffering,” said Karolina.
As she was struggling to figure out what to do, a friend referred her to TRP’s La Casa Student Housing. TRP’s La Casa initiative supports college students with more than just housing. It also provides students with additional resources, career programs, and the support they need to graduate. Karolina applied for La Casa’s Career Internship Program (CIP) and was accepted. She is now a marketing intern in TRP’s Communications and Marketing Department.
Being a CIP Intern is providing her with the opportunity to gain valuable experience in her chosen field. The program is also giving her an opportunity to be independent and experience college housing for the first time.
In TRP’s marketing department, Karolina is gaining first hand experience in writing stories, developing content, managing social media campaigns, event planning, and using new software like WordPress. In addition, she is learning abut the importance the role analytics plays in planning and executing digital campaigns.
“My favorite part of being a CIP intern is hearing the stories of the people TRP is helping,” notes Karolina. “ There are real people benefiting from our work, including myself.” Through the CIP program, Karolina is now going to participate in her next internship at Purple Group, which is a strategic marketing and advertising firm.
Karolina thinks this is the perfect internship because it aligns with her immediate career goals to be employed by an advertising agency. “I want to be responsible for a company’s brand and be able to create eye-catching advertisements to get people to buy products,” said Karolina.
In May, Karolina will be graduating from UIC and she credits La Casa’s Career Internship Program for helping her gain new skills and providing her with real-world work experiences that will help with her career goals.
She is proud to be the first in her family to graduate from college. She feels that she has now become the role model she wanted to be for her family and looks forward to what the future may hold.
This transformative experience for students could not be possible without the generous support of The John Buck Company Foundation, Chicago Tribune Charities – Holiday Campaign, a McCormick Foundation fund, the A. Montgomery Ward Foundation, and two anonymous donors.