When it comes to being a full-time student and working 20 hours a week at a Fortune 1000 company, it may seem like Katrina (Katie) Meeks is burning the candle at both ends but she’s doing something she loves and it’s preparing her for life after college. She even found time last fall to talk with current students about the possibilities internships provide at the STEM Career Fair at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Appearing on behalf of her employer, Valmont, Meeks shared this advice for those willing to walk in her shoes: it’s all about time management.
“I really wanted to share my experience as an intern at Valmont,” said Meeks, who will be working for Valmont full-time as a sustainability engineer after graduating from UNL. “I had a blast speaking to and getting the opportunity to get to know other students who were in the same position I was a year ago.”
Meeks, a biological systems engineering major from Elkhorn, Nebraska, was gladly representing Valmont Industries at last fall’s STEM Career Fair after being part of the career fair in previous years as a student on the other end looking for internship opportunities.
“I applied for this internship at Valmont on my own when looking into sustainability and pollution prevention internships,” she explained. “During my first four months of the internship, I had classes only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays so I was able to devote 20 hours per week to the position.”
Meeks, who graduated from Elkhorn South High School, developed a passion for biology and chemistry her junior and senior years of high school. She’s been able to transfer her passion of the sciences from the classroom to the corporate world, despite trying to juggle life in college with work.
“I would say it has been a huge test to my time management skills to go to school in Lincoln and work in Valley (Nebraska),” added Meeks, who chose the UNL College of Engineering after visiting campus during a New Student Enrollment day. “I devoted my nights and weekends to do most of my homework and studying.”
While time management became a bigger obstacle than taking a test or finding a parking spot on campus, Meeks says she’s been able to stay on top of her schedule thanks to a detailed planner, managing her schedule accordingly, and knowing the benefits of working at a place like Valmont while pursuing her degree have been well worth it academically and professionally.
“I plan to keep learning and gaining experience in the Corporate Sustainability sector,” added Meeks while discussing her future plans. “I would also like to go to graduate school and get my M.B.A.”
Industry employers interested in hiring students like Meeks for internships or co-ops, can create an employer profile on Handshake, the UNL job board. Company posts are accessible to all engineering students.
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