April 21, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Carlos A. Murillo, BA'08 (Economics, International Relations)

Arts alumni are an accomplished crew. They have great advice for students and fellow graduates, and know that arts degrees teach skills that are sought-after in the professional environment.
Alumnus Carlos Murillo smiles in a close-up photo. He is wearing a suit and smiling at the camera.
Carlos A. Murillo, BA'08 (Economics, International Relations)

Carlos A. Murillo graduated in 2008 with a Double Major in Economics (Applied Energy Economics Concentration), and International Relations. He is currently completing a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Sustainable Energy Development (SEDV) at the Haskayne School of Business. In addition to his studies he works full time as an Economic Researcher at the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI). His primary role is to gather and analyze data in order to create models that help explain complex, current, and relevant issues faced by the energy industry in Canada, in an objective and independent manner. This involves making use of knowledge across various disciplines (such as economics and sciences), within a team environment. The results and findings are presented in a logical, concise, and clear manner, primarily via peer-reviewed publicly-available written reports, but also through public forums such as conferences. 

What is your favourite University of Calgary memory?

That is a tough question. I have good memories from my experience at the U of C. Generally speaking, once you get out in the working world, one of the things you will miss the most is the student lifestyle. The U of C has great resources and facilities that helped me to enjoy my university experience to the fullest. One of my fondest memories was being in the learning environment surrounded with people eager to learn new things and full of ideas. Also, extracurricular activities (such as clubs, student associations, etc.) were a highlight; they help you in expanding your social circle and provide you with an opportunity to interact with students from other programs and faculties that will generally have a different perspective on how to solve problems and different world-views.

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

  • For studying: the basement or the top floors in the old library were great. The learning commons at the new library (TFDL) is a nice place for studying; it is bright, open, and there’s always people around.
  • For hanging out with friends: Mac Hall and the Den are great for people watching or simply hanging out and grabbing some food and maybe some drinks.
  • For sports: the Red and Gold gyms are generally open for drop-in sports whether badminton, basketball, or soccer. I spent a fair bit of time at those gyms playing soccer during my spare time in my undergrad days.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree that you did, what would it be?

Start thinking about grad school before you graduate. I wish I could go back in time and do that. It is a lot easier to do it right after your undergrad than while you are working or having to take a break from work to do it. With that said, grad school is not for everyone, some people are better off starting their work careers right after their undergrad, but it really depends on your long-term career goals and what you want to achieve a few years down the road. So start thinking about the future now, with the right plan, you can get to where you want to be, but be flexible and realistic. Don’t be too hard on yourself and always keep trying. Hard work eventually pays…I know it.

Word association: The Den

Beer...let's leave it at that.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I love what I do. When that is the case, it does not feel like a “job”, it is your everyday life. Solving problems is like solving a puzzle, and once you have the pieces all together and you can explain it to someone and when that someone has an Aha moment, it is very fulfilling. Also, I feel that what I do is important because energy is such an important part of our lives, but not everyone realizes that, and I love to explain to people why it is so. So overall, having an enjoyable job, that makes you proud, gives you a sense of accomplishment, and makes you feel like you have a purpose, all those things combined, are the best things about my job. So when you think about jobs for the future, think about your prospect employer, and the role that you can play within that organization while applying your skills but also being happy and feeling fulfilled.

How did your arts degree help you get to where you are now/your current career?

Arts majors are good multi-taskers, fast-learners, good time-managers, and generally have good soft or social skills. A lot of people in the hard sciences and engineering might be excellent students, but being a good student is very different from being a good worker and that will become very clear once you enter your professional life. Additionally, I cannot understate how important social skills are in your career and your adult life in general. Do not underestimate what you can do with an arts degree, if you are willing to work hard, if you are passionate about what you want to do and what you believe in, you can achieve great things. Just remember, your education is just as good as you make it, so get the best and the most of it, and prove to others that you can learn and get things done and things will work out. 

How can I steal your job?

Please don’t steal my job….but if you must try, build up your resume, build up your experience, and invest time and money in yourself by always upgrading your skills, and staying current. Work hard, prove that you can learn, and that you are always willing to at least try things before you say no. Always keep a good attitude and always maintain positive relationships with your colleagues and others that you find along your career path.