Meet Natalie Konopka- our latest #InternoftheWeek! Despite just finishing her sophomore year of college, she has tons of internship experience under her belt, including opportunities at McDaniels Marketing in Pekin, Allergen in Sydney, Australia, and her summer internship with Caterpillar. She’s definitely living the #InternLife and you can read all about why she loves #InterninGP below.
Q: Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you!
A: I’m originally from Minnesota, but I’m going to be a junior at Bradley University! I’m studying Marketing with concentrations in Professional Sales and Social Media Marketing, and Public Relations with a minor in Management Information Systems (MIS). I didn’t always know I wanted to have a tongue twister of a major, but I’ve always known I was meant for the business world. I grew up in an entrepreneurial household and I’ve been managing side hustles since the age of 14 when I started my own online clothing company. Besides school, I love being involved in student organizations, including being the president of the Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s and the American Marketing Association. I also love trying new restaurants, ice cream places, and other fun activities around Peoria with my friends and sisters of Epsilon Sigma Alpha! In my free time I love watching a good Netflix show, crafting, and I’m an avid traveler. Traveling is one of my biggest passions, I’ve been to 26 states and 6 countries including: Poland, India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Mexico – hopefully more coming soon!
A: This summer I’m working at Caterpillar, Inc. as a Communications intern in the Human Resources Department downtown. I work closely with the head of External Employment Branding. In a nut shell, I’m responsible for writing articles on events going on throughout the company and highlighting the stories of our impressive employees through our Career News section on Caterpillar.com. I also aid in managing the career social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) by creating content and posting engaging material that attracts new and current talent and helps them see what it’s really like to work at Caterpillar. A big part of what I do is trying to showcase Caterpillar beyond what we’re known for, machinery, and drawing light to what really makes us successful: the people. I get to sit in on, and be a part of, some very interesting projects across the globe; in fact, on my first day I had a Skype meeting with someone from the UK! My day-to-day is always changing. I typically work every morning and start out by catching up on emails and trying to prioritize the tasks assigned to me. Then, it’s straight grinding until lunch! Some days I’m in meetings back to back, and other days I’m writing, rewriting, and working on my projects! I have the opportunity to tag along with my supervisor outside of the office on certain meetings, and network with other Caterpillar employees all over the area. Each day brings something new, which is what makes Caterpillar such a great place to work! It’s very hands on and opens you to a lot of opportunities to grow and learn.
Q: How does this internship compare to other internships/jobs you’ve held in the past?
A: I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of internship experience under my belt after two years at Bradley. My freshman year, I spent the summer in Sydney, Australia working for Allergan, a global pharmaceutical company (they make Botox and tons of other pharmaceuticals). This was an incredible learning experience on autonomy and doing work that is valuable and fulfilling- just like Caterpillar. Both being Fortune 500 companies, they function similarly; but what I love about Caterpillar is the incredible focus on global relationships. Being an avid traveler, Caterpillar is a company I can resonate with because of it’s large global reach and involvement. After Allergan, I came back to Peoria and started working for McDaniels Marketing in Pekin, IL, which was also an incredibly new learning experience! McD is a marketing agency that has a variety of clients, mainly in the healthcare industry- which was now something familiar to me. At McD I did a lot of digital marketing: search engine optimization, website building, WordPress, CMS, the whole shebang. I got the opportunity to build upon my skills and get comfortable in growing as a professional. Along with McD, I worked for the Illinois Society of Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations (ISHMPR) as a marketing intern. I handled social media, website updates, advertising, and had the opportunity to work at their Fall Conference in Chicago and network with healthcare professionals across Illinois! These two opportunities are incredible different from Caterpillar, mainly in terms of scale! Although both are much smaller, they still taught me important lessons that are currently helping me in my internship at Caterpillar. After all my experience, I would say that it’s important to have both kinds of internships: ones that help you grow and refine skills, and those that are completely new! All experience is good experience.
A: I think Peoria is way too underrated! I come from a town with 3,000 people and a few gas stations, so Peoria is an upgrade. Going to Bradley I’ve been able to familiarize myself a bit with the area, but it wasn’t until my internship that I really got the opportunity to explore and reap all that the area has to offer. My parents were visiting for a weekend and I got to show them all around and even explore some new places.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about your summer here in Greater Peoria?
A: I’m excited to get outside of the Bradley bubble and explore Peoria more! I can’t wait to attend a few concerts, grab some bites to eat, and spend time with my friends.
Q: What community are you staying in and what are your thoughts on that community/your summer crib?
A: I’m staying in Peoria in an on-campus apartment. So far, I really enjoy it! It’s a huge step up from living in the dorms and a big opportunity to get involved in the community which seems to always have something going on!
A: I think the intern mixer series is so great for a variety of people in Peoria for the summer just for their internships. Although I’m here throughout the year, it can be intimidating to move somewhere without your regular friends and networks! The intern mixer series is basically a networking event without all the pressure, plus free food and activities! I’m super glad I got the opportunity to attend them!
Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant, coffee shop, or hang-out spot here in town?
A: It’s hard to just pick one. I’m a huge foodie, which Peoria is perfect for. I’d definitely have to recommend Sushi Ko, it’s a hole in the wall place with the BEST sushi. I’m also a huge fan of ice cream, so Ice cream Shack, Twistee Treat, and Emack and Bolio’s are all prime options.