Alumni Spotlight: The Most Important Goal of His Life
This international student
left pro soccer to launch a
career in digital marketing.
Not long ago, Sergio Carrallo was living in his native
Spain, playing soccer at the highest level for the iconic
Real Madrid club — but he was also making plans for
the future. Carrallo knew his soccer career wouldn't
last forever, so when the time was right he planned to
move to California and study digital marketing.
His father had been living in California, working in the
tech industry, and Carrallo had spent plenty of time
here in the past, studying English and enjoying the lifestyle.
Culture shock wasn't a problem. So Carrallo
asked his father for advice on which university to
attend, and his answer was emphatic: UC Irvine.
After a brief stint playing for the New York Cosmos,
Carrallo came to SoCal and enrolled in two accelerated
certificate programs — Digital Marketing and
Media & Global Communications. He's also currently
serving an internship with California Coast Yachts in
“I really wanted to have this personal experience,”
Carrallo said. “It has always been my desire to come
to California to finalize my education and build a life
here. I've been coming to California since I was a very
small child, because my father has always worked for
companies in Silicon Valley. I've spent several summers
in Los Angeles learning English in my spare time.”
Carrallo has been studying hard while jump-starting his
dream career, getting hands-on experience through
UCI and networking with individuals at several global
corporations. He's also considering eventually going
for a master's in marketing, as well.
“My background has been in professional soccer but
I've also had great experiences working with Nike,
Instagram, and some other companies, trying to
prepare for my new career in digital marketing and
global communications,” he said.
After returning from trips to Madrid and Miami, Carrallo
found time to elaborate on his life, career goals, and
experience at UCI.
Let's start at the beginning, with your soccer career.
Playing for Real Madrid is quite an accomplishment.
They've won prestigious international tournaments
and even sold out the Rose Bowl here for exhibition
Well, I started playing for a junior team when I was 13,
then after some tryouts, tournaments and hard work, I
made the jump to Real Madrid and played with them
for six years. They are definitely one of the greatest
teams in the world. After that, I joined the Cosmos and
got to play in New York, one of the best cities in the
world. Overall, it has been an amazing experience!
When I came to L.A. I trained for a short time with the
Galaxy, but my focus has been on studying at UCI
and preparing for my future career.
You had your choice of a number of schools in the U.S.
and abroad. What prompted you to choose UCI?
The main reason is that UCI is one of the top universities
in the U.S. It's among the world's most respected
research institutions and it has a beautiful, big campus
— big enough for everyone to find where they fit in.
Academically it's one of the best in the UC system. My
father had a big impact on my decision, as well. After
speaking with friends at his company in Sunnyvale he
clearly advised me to choose this university. I wanted
to live and study in Southern California, so overall it's a
Tell me about your experience taking the DCE
certificate programs. What did you think about the
faculty and curriculum?
It has been an extremely positive experience, a very
high-quality curriculum with outstanding guest speakers who give lessons based on their own professional
experience. Every professor I have had has been
understanding and helpful; they push students to think
for themselves instead of merely memorize. Although
the classes are difficult, they're also fun, engaging and
interesting. UCI is just a great school where students
can find a balance in their academic and social lives.
How have the certificate courses prepared you for a
digital marketing career?
Well, I learned all the key points and aspects to
designing a successful digital marketing plan — how
to create a strategy to obtain a company's business
goals, how to choose the right tools to deliver the right
digital solutions and provide true value. What do I
need in order to start, grow, and develop my digital
marketing strategy? How will I know what the right
strategic elements are for my brand? The programs
provided all the answers.
The classes touched on such a wide range of topics:
search engine optimization, content marketing, data
analytics, advertising, and much more. I also had the
opportunity to get in contact with people working in
Facebook, Google, and other high-profile companies.
So tell me about your internship. Do you feel like you're
getting a lot of valuable hands-on experience?
Yes, interning with California Coast Yachts has been
an amazing experience. The company is part of the
Ferretti group, one of the most prestigious boat
companies in the world. The first time I met them was
at an event in Newport Beach, and after building a
relationship for more than a year they offered me a
position as executive sales manager assistant. They are
an amazing group of people, everyone focused on the
same goal. I love what I'm doing, and I get to network
with some of the most influential people in the industry.
You're still in your 20s and you've already had such
a wide range of experiences. Where would you like
to end up working at the end of the day?
I'd like to start out at a major company and eventually
start my own marketing firm. So far I've had experience
with Nike and Abercrombie & Fitch, and I have an
Instagram partnership collaboration with Walden Farms
and a few other companies. Digital marketing applies
to most any business in today's world. It's essential for
creating a strategy for future growth.
I assume you're planning to build your new life here
Yes. Even when I was playing for Real Madrid and
in New York with the Cosmos, it has always been
my desire to come to California to study, finish my
education, and set up my life here. I have to say that
there's still a big gap between the U.S. — California
in particular — and Europe when it comes to digital
marketing. There are many more opportunities here,
and UCI offers a fantastic opportunity for any person
to come here and learn to become an expert in digital
For a list of program for international students,