Cara Cunningham is from Fairfax Station, Virginia
and a recent Pamplin School graduate. She obtained a degree in Management (EIT - Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology).  

We recently asked her to share her experiences as a Management major and Pamplin School Business student. 

Q: Why did you choose Virginia Tech?  When and why did you choose Management?

A: As an athlete, the ACC was a conference I had dreamed of playing in for years. My older sister, Kristen, played volleyball for Virginia Tech and graduated in 2008. I vividly remember as a child coming to Blacksburg for her matches, and even then I recognized how special of a place it was. Virginia Tech outshines the rest in so many ways – it is unlike any other place I have ever been. I chose Virginia Tech because I wanted to become the best athlete, student, and human being I could be in such a pivotal period of my life.

The Pamplin College of Business immediately stood out to me as I embarked on my academic journey at Virginia Tech. There was something different about the business students, I noticed, and I wanted to be a part of it. 

Cara Cunningham

When choosing my major, Management excited me most because of its versatility. While I didn’t know what specific industry or field of business I wanted to pursue, I knew that a Management degree could prepare and equip me for any area.

Q: Were there any specific classes that you remember as validating your major choice? 

A: Looking back on my academic experience at Virginia Tech, there are a multitude of classes that come to mind that made me so excited to pursue my Management degree.

One of which was Managerial Analytics – I’ve always loved crunching numbers and the science of decision-making, however I felt that I’d be leaving those elements should I go into business. I was beside myself when I discovered that wasn’t the case at all!

Managerial Analytics showed me how business and scientific reasoning go hand in hand.

Another class that validated my major choice was Developing Entrepreneurial Ventures – a capstone course that essentially took off my training wheels by giving me a hands-on, accelerated experience of founding a new venture.

Q: Was there a faculty member or staff member within Pamplin and/or the MGT department that served as a mentor or source of inspiration for you during your journey?

A: The faculty and staff at Virginia Tech are incredible as they develop us not only as students but as people. There were so many that sought to know me personally; I was never just a face in a 500-person lecture.

Margaret Deck, a professor in the Management department, was a professor of mine during my sophomore and senior years. I always looked forward to her classes because she was so evidently passionate about management, which in turn inspired a passion of my own. She was not only an expert in her field; she was incredibly thoughtful when it came to her students.

Another professor that was a friend and mentor to me was Lance Matheson in the BIT department. Lance taught me my junior year and was also a staff member on my trip abroad in the summer of 2016. I could come to him for anything – life advice, academic assistance, or even just to chat. I am so thankful for professors like him.


Q: What advice would you provide to an incoming Pamplin freshman?

A: Get to know your professors! They want to know you. Freshman year can seem daunting and you often may feel lost (don’t worry, I kept the campus map on me until my junior year), but there are so many brilliant people here to help and support you. Get connected and stay connected with the people you meet; while you will spend just a few years here at Tech, the relationships you build can last a lifetime.

Q: What was your inspiration for leadership?  

A: As an athlete, I was surrounded by inspiring leaders every day. My coach, Jill Wilson, inspired me greatly during my last few years as a Hokie. In success, she was steady; in downfall, she was strong. There was never a day when she didn’t make the most of her time. She sought to not only better herself but better an entire program each day – a relentless pursuit of excellence. I hope to lead as she led me as I embark on my professional career.


Cara Cunningham

Q: Name some of the internships, if any, that you had during your Pamplin journey.

A: The vast majority of my time outside of academics was spent in dedication to collegiate athletics; however, I was fortunate to intern during the summer after my junior year for an independent wealth management firm in Northern Virginia: Cassaday & Company, Inc. I worked for all departments – marketing, financial planning, trading, to name a few. The tools and skills I had learned in the classroom enabled me to stand out and hold my own, which I am so thankful to Pamplin and the Management Department for.


Cara Cunningham

Q: If you could give a testimonial about Pamplin and/or the Management Department, curriculum - what would you say?  

A: The Pamplin College of Business is unlike any other business school in the country. Students are given the tools to change the world by passionate and driven faculty. The management department equips students with “metaskills” – skills that are needed in all areas of business. Pamplin develops and invests in its students in profound ways so that we might look forward to a better tomorrow.

Cara Cunningham

Q: Please provide a brief summary of your job search - who, when, how did you approach the process?

A: Job searching has consisted of leveraging my network and taking advantage of events such as Business Horizons. I made many great connections and look forward to what is to come as my job search resumes following my professional athletic career.

Q: What’s next Cara? 

A: I will be attending graduate school in England while also playing volleyball!

I will be getting my Master of Science (M.S.) in Business Analytics from the University of Nottingham, and I will be playing for the school. Following graduate school, I will play professionally in Europe.