University of New Mexico alum Jessica Sanchez and her family actively pursue a new entrepreneurial path as a family of travel journalists and bloggers, one that has lead to a unique opportunity.
Sanchez and her family have been selected as part of the top 50 applicants considered for the Cancun Experience Officer position for Cancun.com. This position had over 6,000 applicants. Announcements on whether Sanchez and her family will rise from the top 50 to the top 10 will be made Jan. 17.
Sanchez’ journey from UNM to where she is now began in 2003 when she first attended UNM.
Sanchez graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in business with an accounting concentration. She later returned and received her MBA with an emphasis in nonprofit management from Anderson in 2012. After graduation Sanchez used her accounting degree while working at KPMG.
“While I don't use the specific degree now, I truly believe a degree in business is useful in any entrepreneurial endeavor,” Sanchez said. “Also, as we take a huge risk to start a career as bloggers, I am comforted to know I have (a) solid degree to fall back on if things don't work out.”
During her time at UNM, Sanchez enjoyed being a part of the Greek community by joining Kappa Kappa Gamma, she said.
“Being a part of the Greek system got us involved in events on campus and allowed me to make friends with ease, although arriving from (Texas),” Sanchez said. “I also loved being a part of the cheerleading team and getting to experience games up close, travel and be a part of the athletic club.”
Sanchez loved that UNM allowed her to study abroad, which she did multiple times, she said.
“I was able to do programs in Australia, South Africa and Spain while at UNM and found the University very willing to assist me in finding transferable credits while abroad,” Sanchez said. “By allowing me the flexibility to do semesters abroad, I was able to finish school while still pursuing my passion of travel.”
Sanchez family currently runs the blog, The Jetsetting Family, where Sanchez, along with her husband Rodrigo and children Santi, 5, and Nora, 2, travel the world and help inspire other families to do the same, she said.
The family spent 2017 getting their blog and social media channels up and running and building partnerships with brands, Sanchez said. Now in 2018, she and her family will officially sell everything they own to travel full time and make incredible memories as a family, she said.
“We plan to generate an income by collaborating with hotels, clothing companies, products and tourism boards,” Sanchez said. “In exchange for photos, videos and exposure these places offer compensated items or pay us in return.”
Thus far, the family has collaborated with Hilton, Legoland California, the San Diego Zoo and the Great Wolf Lodge, she said.
“We hope to continue to grow our audience and partner with more companies along our travels,” Sanchez said. “We also hope to find amazing ways to volunteer and give back along the way, which is where I am excited to put my nonprofit management degree to use.”
As for the Cancun Experience Officer position the family is currently competing for, Sanchez said they heard about the opportunity through Forbes and thought they would apply just for fun.
“Being a Mexican-American family, we would absolutely love the opportunity to show our children their roots while having a platform to educate the rest of the world on the beauty of Mexico,” Sanchez said. “Mexico is more than just pretty beaches, so we would love to showcase not only its beauty, but its culture and history.”
As Mexico holds a dear place in her family’s hearts, Sanchez said she knows she and her family could highlight Cancun as a world-class destination.
“We think the fact that we are a family makes our application unique,” Sanchez said. “We are able to show kid-friendly activities as well as adult-friendly ones, giving a really broad view of what Cancun has to offer for individuals, couples and families.”
As a UNM alum, Sanchez has always dreamed of incorporating travel into her life and into a career, but was not sure how she would make that happen, she said.
“When I was in undergrad, Facebook had just started, and Instagram didn't exist, so the thought of being a social media influencer and blogger never crossed my mind,” Sanchez said. “Once we discovered the possibility, we decided to dedicate ourselves to learning photography and videography skills to make ourselves marketable. It is a huge change and departure from what I studied, but (I) still feel like the business degree helps me understand how we want to grow and develop our brand.”
Sanchez advises students to participate in internships to themselves a chance to experience what a day-to-day life in a job would be as it may be different then what is expected.
“It took a long time after I graduated to take the risk to make the dream come true,” Sanchez said. “I am still grateful for the jobs I held prior, because they each gave me experience that I can apply today.”
Sanchez said she urges current and future graduates to never forget what they are passionate about and try to find a career that fits that.
“Once you do, dedicate yourself to it and differentiate yourself from others,” Sanchez said. “I wanted to be a travel journalist since I can remember, and for a while thought I had to be hired as one to make it a reality. The beauty of the Internet though is that with a lot of jobs, you don't have to wait for someone to hire you, you can just put yourself out there and give it your all and create a brand for yourself. Social media is such a powerful marketing tool that it has changed the game tremendously.”
Nichole Harwood is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.