Francisco Kilgore, a December 2016 graduate, says problem solving skills he learned as an undergraduate have helped him be successful at Tesla.
By Kristen Mitchell
Francisco Kilgore looks at his job as an anthropological field study. As a customer experience specialist at Tesla, he never knows who will walk in the door next looking for a new car.
Mr. Kilgore started working at the Tesla, a sustainability-focused car company, showroom near CityCenter in January. He graduated in December from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. His experience studying how people interact has helped him adjust to his new role.
“I get to see a lot of different people and how they interact with each other, and that to me is always very interesting,” he said. “You get all kinds of people in the store at totally different levels of understanding about technology, totally different social dynamics, so that interested me in terms of being customer facing, that is something I was looking for after graduation.”
As a student Mr. Kilgore did research on ridesharing applications and autonomous cars. His passion for that research and sustainability led him to seek out full-time positions with technology companies like Google and Tesla, both leaders in the field.
“It made sense for me to kind of continue my desire for learning to be at the very forefront of what’s happening,” he said.
Mr. Kilgore, a transfer student from Sonoma, Calif., spent his time as an upperclassman helping other students find jobs as part of AIESEC, a youth-run program that aims to connect student leaders with internships around the world. Mr. Kilgore served as the Washington, D.C., hub’s marketing vice president as a senior, where he met with GW staff and local business leaders to negotiate internship sponsorships.
As part of AIESEC, Mr. Kilgore reviewed countless resumes, learning tips along the way that would help him improve his own application materials. He picked up on what kinds of fonts make a document look clean and which ones are distracting. Seeing resumes from the perspective of an employer helped Mr. Kilgore understand how direct and friendly wording left a better impression than flowery or vague language.
Reviewing resumes also taught Mr. Kilgore how extracurricular experiences could set a person apart. Resumes mentioning club involvement and other interests were often more memorable than applications that focused strictly on job experience and provided crucial information about an applicant's personality.
As part of AIESEC Mr. Kilgore participated in career fairs and got to know staff at the GW Center for Career Services, who led him through personal and career assessments to determine how to plan for the future. Because he had gotten to know staff, he immediately knew who to turn to when an exciting job opportunity abroad came up.
Last summer, Mr. Kilgore worked in Brazil during the Summer Olympics on the VISA hospitality floor. He welcomed international guests to Rio, checking them into their hotels and translating for them. Mr. Kilgore is half Brazilian and took trips to Rio as a child to visit family.
With help from GW Career Services, he was able to make it through the complex application process for the coveted position in Rio.
“I went to them and said ‘I have no idea how to do a video interview, I have no idea how to make my resume apply to these people. I have no idea how to write a cover letter, and I have to do it in two different languages,’” Mr. Kilgore said.
In Rio, Mr. Kilgore attended the Olympic opening ceremony and athletic events. As part of the hospitality team, he met people from around the world, many of whom left their home countries for the first time after winning VISA contests for tickets. He also got to practice his communication skills by interacting with guests in any of the five languages he’s studied—Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic.
The most important takeaway was an improved ability to solve problems. Each day presented new challenges, whether it was language barriers or customer service issues, and Mr. Kilgore had to think on his feet to solve them while staying calm. He’s been able to transfer these skills to his new role at Tesla.
Mr. Kilgore began applying for jobs in the fall, homing in on a few select companies he was interested in. He applied to Tesla through GWork, the Career Services job search portal. Soon after, a recruiter contacted him. An in-person interview with a manager followed. The job offer came a few weeks later.
Students should make the most of Career Services resources and connects within the broader GW community, Mr. Kilgore said. The connections he made while working with AIESEC proved useful later when he needed help preparing applications.
“You never know when someone will know somebody or help you,” he said. “If you make friends or partners, it’s a lot easier to go from there.”
Looking for an internship or full-time job? Reach out to Career Services to develop or refine your strategy and connect with employers.