In our “Where Are They Now?” series, current student interns interview former interns about their experience at the Office of Sustainability, and in particular how that experience has helped them since graduation. In the following entry, Natalie Tinsen relates her conversation with Katie Piel.
Katie Piel graduated from UW–Madison in May 2019 after working for the Office of Sustainability (OS) as an intern for nearly two years. Today, Katie is employed as a Green Analyst for Consulting Solutions Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. In this role, “[Katie] conducts energy and water audits in commercial real estate buildings and then advises the owners or property managers on how to lower their environmental impact.” I spoke with Katie over WebEx to learn about her path from the internship to the workplace.
During her time as an OS intern, Katie learned skills that set her apart from other job applicants. Specifically, she related that the Green Office team introduced her to “small-scale energy and water audits,” which she now implements in commercial buildings. She is especially grateful that the OS educated her on how to communicate professionally with “real world” clients.
The OS intern program also better prepared Katie to face challenges in the professional workforce. For instance, she learned how to collaborate with a large group of fellow interns, which meant navigating many different personalities, work styles, and ideas. After a short time as an intern, Katie realized that working with a range of different people presented an opportunity for ideas to evolve, which wouldn’t have been possible on a one-person team. She particularly recalls the planning process for Earth Week, as it “brought new members to the conversation of sustainability.” Working in a large group to plan Earth Week brought camaraderie and happiness to campus, which is something Katie will remember for a lifetime.
I have known Katie for a little over two years now and she has always inspired me with her determination, kindness, and passion for sustainability. Hearing her reflect on her time at the OS has influenced how I hope to spend my time there. After listening to Katie describe how impactful Earth Week is on campus, I became even more excited to help plan and coordinate Earth Week as a member of the Communications team. Interviewing Katie and seeing how her face brightened when reflecting at her time at the OS instilled excitement and happiness for my time as an intern.