University of Redlands Alumni Melina Estrada standing in front of an Estee Lauder International building holding a cream colored bag that says CEO Global Residential Program.
From Intern to Employee: How Melina Estrada ’23 Made Her Mark in the Corporate World 

“I always wanted to be in beauty. I just didn’t know how I was going to make a living off of it.” 

Melina Estrada is a first-gen Latina who graduated from the University of Redlands in 2023 with a double major in Global Business and Asian Studies. She was interested in pursuing a career in the beauty industry but didn’t know where to start. She is currently living her dream, landing a full-time position as a part of the CEO Global Presidential Associate program at The Estée Lauder Companies (a leader in luxury beauty) in their NYC HQ offices.  

Melina was highly involved on campus throughout her undergraduate education. For example, she served as the President of Maroon and Grey Student Ambassadors and was a member of the Proudian Interdisciplinary Honors Program. In addition, she had a work-study position in the CAS Study Away office as a program assistant. During her time there, she became a First Gen Study Away Ambassador and learned that many Hispanic first-gen students were not aware of scholarship opportunities available at the University of Redlands. They also expressed not having friends or family who studied abroad, which demonstrated a lack of representation. As a result, they felt discouraged to begin an application or attend info sessions. By working in the Study Away office, Melina gained knowledge of various financial resources, applying for and earning as much as $31,000 in scholarships and grants on her own. Afterwards, she utilized her research and experiences to create resources for the CAS study away website, specifically focusing on first-gen students.  

Here are some of the major events that led Melina to become the professional she is today. 

Getting Started 

As a rising junior in the Summer of 2021, Melina realized she could not apply for certain internships because she was not in junior or senior standing yet. So, she decided to create a LinkedIn profile to contact several different CEOs from smaller-scale beauty companies. As a result, Melina connected with XJ Beauty, a local beauty manufacturing company, and learned about formulating and marketing products during this internship.  

In addition to interning at XJ Beauty, Melina remotely interned at the American Councils’ Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program to enhance her Chinese language studies. 

Taking Action 

During her junior year, Melina visited the ELC website and applied for their Summer 2022 internship. She also used the online job site, WayUp, to join a virtual info session that ELC was hosting to learn more about the application process. As a result of her exceptional application, Melina received an internship offer letter!  

Going Above and Beyond with Study Abroad 

During Spring 2022, Melina studied abroad in Ireland at the University College Dublin. Throughout this experience, Melina took international business and intensive Chinese language courses. She also participated in several student organizations, such as the International Student Society and Hispanic Society to further immerse herself in the campus culture.  

A Summer in New York  

In order to complete the marketing internship at ELC, Melina was required to move and live in New York for two months. She also utilized her housing stipend and grant money to cover housing. During her stay, Melina served as a marketing intern for the North America Consumer Insights team. This opportunity allowed her to learn more about the company and network with many influential industry leaders. 

Making It Happen 

As a senior, Melina decided to reapply to ELC’s CEO Global Presidential Associate program. She had a very positive experience during her marketing internship with ELC, which further motivated her to apply to the new program. It’s important to note that the ELC application website lists having global experiences as not required, but it’s highly encouraged. The application process took approximately two months and included two rounds of interviews. Melina demonstrated her excellent candidacy and received an offer letter shortly before graduating. Reflecting back, Melina concluded, “If I hadn’t studied abroad, I don’t think I would have stood out as much in my resume when applying to Estée Lauder.” 

Reliving the Study Abroad Experience  

Within the gap between graduation and starting her full-time role at Estée Lauder that fall, Melina returned to her previous internship at American Councils’ Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program. The now in-person experience allowed her to refine her Chinese language skills, learn more about Taiwanese culture, and experiment with several popular East Asian beauty products. 

Building Roots in the Big Apple 

Like the previous ELC marketing internship, Melina was required to move and live in New York to complete the CEO Global Presidential Associate program. All Presidential Associates receive all three of their rotations to be in a Global team, North America team, and can be within a corporate function or brand team within ELC’s portfolio of brands. During the 4-week orientation, she learned about various brand stories within the ELC prestige beauty portfolio and participated in a final group presentation for the executives. As the orientation concluded, she discovered that her first rotation was with the North America Local and Cultural Relevancy team, a corporate function within ELC focusing on PR/communication efforts. Today, Melina is preparing for her second rotation with MAC North America Product Marketing in preparation of becoming an Assistant Manager after the program.   

About the Authors | Emily Perez Ortiz is graduating this April with a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Redlands. She has experience working in new student orientation, academic advising, career advising, and registrar. In her free time, you can find Emily listening to alternative music and avoiding freeways.  

Consuelo Almanza is graduating this April with a master’s degree in School Counseling, Combo Track at the University of Redlands. She has experience helping elementary and middle students with social emotional development and assists college students with academic and career advising. Aside from school, work, and fieldwork, she loves spending time with her family.  

By Lucas Gorham
Lucas Gorham