When she was just 4 years old, Carolina Flores walked into the country with her mom and two siblings, gaining political asylum after having escaped a civil war in their home country of El Salvador.
Ever since, the 36-year-old has been making a name for herself.
“I think that really shaped who I am today, just because I don’t take anything for granted,” said Flores, who in 2016 earned an MBA at SJC Long Island and who now teaches an online course in the Graduate Management Studies department at the College.
Now, in addition to starting law school and creating her own business during the pandemic, Flores has also landed a job at Google, where she works as the account executive of financial services for global sales.
“My advice to somebody going through a rough patch is that everything is temporary,” she said. “Just keep working hard, because 10-year-old me would never have thought that I would be where I am today. I have a master’s degree, I’m pursuing law, I have two young kids and a husband, I started my own business. And it feels good to say those things because sometimes I never thought it was possible. But here we are. You just have to keep going.”
A Passion for Marketing
As an undergraduate student, Flores knew she liked business, but she wasn’t sure which avenue of it she wanted to pursue.
“I always enjoyed TV commercials and ads in magazines. I think if I can find humor and emotion in a TV ad, that’s a win,” said Flores, who in 2008 earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from Baruch College with a minor in psychology.
“I just followed that hunch, and then I kind of continued to learn about not only the theory, but the actual practice, which is completely different,” she added.
Flores has worked in the field of marketing for over a decade now, having spent the last seven years at Citibank in various roles. Her most recent position was as vice president of global marketing and advertising, where she had the opportunity to work with actors Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”) and Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation,” “The Office”) on a commercial.
“Being able to be a part of that has been so monumental to my growth and development,” she said.
As someone who’s been trying to break into the field of technology for over five years, Flores is very excited for her new job at Google.
“Google has revolutionized the tech space, and just to be able to be there with the brightest minds and helping them bring their mission to life, which is to organize the world’s information and make it accessible to everyone, is like a dream come true,” said the Bay Shore resident.
Making a Difference Where it Matters
Flores’s real estate business, Market Match Real Estate, started out of her desire to help people build family wealth.
“During the height of the pandemic, I realized the big gap between generational wealth,” she said. “I’ve been trying to find ways to help others in terms of education, empowering them with education on the home buying process and how to prepare for that.”
Her interest in real estate stems from when she was 14, helping her mom study for her real estate license by translating — and inadvertently learning about the trade herself. When Flores was 18, she got her own real estate license, then sold her first house.
“My mother has been a huge driving force in my life; she’s my inspiration,” Flores said.
But her real estate business wasn’t the only thing to come out of the pandemic for Flores.
“I think the pandemic left everyone just really soul-searching — about life, about purpose,” Flores said. “It definitely gave me a lot of time to think about what really matters, and I started to pursue my law degree.”
Her desire to study law is linked directly to her own journey into the United States.
“I started law school because if I could get one kid out of a cage, or if I could help one person, or if I could be an advocate for the marginalized, I think it would be worth it,” she said. “Because that could have been me. I feel like if ever there’s a stereotype about someone who needs asylum, I’m hoping to break all those stereotypes.”
While law school is still a long-term plan for Flores, she’s deferred in the short term to focus on her new career.
Shining at St. Joseph’s
Flores decided she wanted to teach at St. Joseph’s while she was a student at the College, writing it into a five-year plan she had to create in one of her management courses.
“I think my favorite part about teaching here is the fact that we have such a wide body of students,” Flores said.
“Everyone has experience, especially in the program that I teach,” continued Flores, who’s taught marketing at St. Joseph’s for a little more than three years. “Students are juggling life, children, careers, and I find that when you have to juggle multiple things, it just makes you stronger. It makes you appreciate things more.”
The flexibility St. Joseph’s offers is only part of what appealed to Flores as a student.
“I chose this school most importantly because of the MBA program, which allows you to kind of work on yourself with your managerial abilities, and that was very crucial to the development of my career,” she said.
Despite having accomplished so much, Flores shared that it wasn’t always easy getting where she is today.
“The biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome is self-doubt,” she said. “As women, I think we’re constantly feeling imposter syndrome. You know, ‘Are we good enough? Can we do this?’ And you can’t dwell too much on that, you just have to keep going. In hindsight, I’m super proud of everything I have accomplished, and I feel there’s just so much more that I want to do.”