This week's spotlight is on Hayley Cornwell (MSB '15, Marketing), who joined Hilltop her freshman fall and served as a Consultant, as a Project Manager, and on the Board as Director of Professional Outreach. This interview was conducted by Stephanie Denoyer.
What company do you currently work for, and what field do you work in?
I work for Google in Small Business Sales, so I work with small businesses to help optimize their AdWords accounts, which is one way companies can advertise with Google.
What was your favorite project in Hilltop, and why?
One of my favorite projects was for LearnLead, because we had a great team dynamic. It was challenging because we had to prove our worth to our client at first, but very rewarding in that we were able to have a big impact in expanding our client's reach to a broader range of target schools in the greater DC area.
How has Hilltop impacted your career choices and/or trajectory, and the job application process?
Hilltop was one of my most formative experiences at Georgetown. It was definitely something to talk about in any interview, and employers love to hear about the impact we make. Hilltop provided me with both hands on business experience and also the opportunity to do good for the community. It’s always a good story to tell!
Being in Hilltop for so long allowed me to move up through the organization, so I was able to see how the organization worked from all levels, which was a very valuable experience. It was useful for critical problem solving skills, learning to structure a project, helping with communication skills, and general professional development.
Reflect on your experience in Hilltop and how it shaped your college experience as a whole.
Hilltop is a very tight-knit group of people, made up of students with all different backgrounds, from all across the country and even the world. It’s really fun to come together in a professional setting and be able to put our heads together and solve real world business problems. It is both a challenging and fun experience.
Hilltop allowed me to make really good friends and I could always rely on their constant support. When I first joined, I was able to meet really smart and talented people and learn from them, and once I got older, I was able to become one of those mentors to the younger members. Hilltop definitely taught me my self worth through the encouragement of the older members, and I came to realize the impact I was able to make in the community.
Reflect on your colleagues in Hilltop. What was it like working in a professional setting while still at college?
At first it was a challenge in terms of time management, and it was a matter of getting comfortable with working professionally and socially with peers. You get comfortable once you realize you can trust them. It’s a lot like the real world—working with people who are both friends and colleagues isn’t just a college thing. Having the skills to get along with someone in any setting, whether it be social or work, is important especially in today’s business world.
How did developing business problem solving skills in college help you beyond Georgetown?
Hilltop definitely helped me with people skills and management skills. It was a great experience working on individual portions of a project but having an overarching goal that the whole team was working towards. It was valuable to be in a setting where people have expertise in all sorts of areas, and it’s important to learn how to identify them and reach out to them because they can be a great resource. Hilltop has such a diverse set of members and encourages reaching out for project-related and professional development-related conversations, and the mentality was one of being helpful and accessible across the organization. Hilltop taught me it’s never a bad idea to reach out—there are experts in all sorts of topics.
Another thing Hilltop helped me develop was understanding how to talk to a client with specific expectations and be able to communicate in an appropriate way.
What advice would you give to a college student who is interested in business but undecided on a career path?
It’s okay that you don’t know! Try what you think you might be interested in because now is the best time to do that. I did internships that I didn’t love, but I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t try, and it helped me narrow down what I was interested in pursuing. It might seem like all of your friends have a set career path but remember it’s okay to take some time to explore and do something different than the rest. If you’re undecided I would suggest applying to a variety of different internships because even if the job doesn’t seem like the perfect fit, you learn a lot throughout the interview process. Definitely do your research, and hopefully if you apply to a variety of positions you’ll have some options to choose from and a clearer view of what you want to do after applying.
I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was doing until senior year, and I feel far happier than I would have been anywhere else! Lastly, just go with your gut, no matter if you feel like you’re doing something totally different.
Alumni Spotlights are conversations between a current Hilltop Consultants member and an alum about their experience in Hilltop and their careers beyond Georgetown. This interview has been edited for space and clarity.
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