Internship Spotlight – Katie Alhadeff, Altria

Eller PDC Coordinator Student Stories, Video Stories

Katie is a senior receiving her Business Management degree and Social Innovation Certificate. This summer, Katie interned as a Territory Sales Manager for the Altria Group Distribution Company in Phoenix, Arizona. Altria provided her with a housing stipend, so she lived in a town house in South Scottsdale with another Altria intern and 2 other Eller students also interning in Phoenix for the summer. Katie received and accepted a full-time offer with Altria and will begin working for them after she graduates this coming May.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

My favorite part about this summer was the transformation I went through while working at this company. I started off rather hesitant about this job but decided to give it a shot, and I have never been more happy with a decision in my life. I grew professionally, emotionally, and mentally this summer working for Altria, and I can proudly say it is all because of the incredible people at this company, the amazing experiences this internship provides, and the challenges one must overcome working in this industry. We also got to travel a lot throughout the summer, to California and Denver, and were able to participate in really fun activities with our teams such as touring the Warner Bros Studio in Burbank, play laser tag, bowling, golfing, and even work our way through an escape room. During our intern trip to Denver, the four West Coast Section Directors as well as the Regional Vice President (aka all the top dogs) actually came out and spent two days with us getting to know us, teaching us, and even learning from us! It was incredible knowing how much even the highest tiered members of the company truly cared.

Did you work on any big projects this summer?

Glad you asked! The summer-long project was my other favorite part about this internship. The other two Altria interns in Phoenix and I were able to work intimately with executives at the Circle K headquarters in Tempe to help improve the Circle K Easy Rewards Loyalty Program. We conducted primary and secondary research in over 21 cities throughout Arizona, and gathered data on state demographics and other population characteristics, and then put together a presentation which we presented at their headquarter building at the end of the summer. They allotted 45 minutes for us, and we were there for over 2 hours! I am proud to say not only did Circle K take our recommendations and already begin to implement them, but Altria is also using some of our suggestions to improve aspects of its mobile coupon program as well.

What did you find most challenging about the internship?

I am going to be blunt here, the most challenging part about this internship was becoming okay with the fact that I was working for a Tobacco company. Originally, this was the reason I was hesitant about taking the job, but after speaking with Eller alums who worked for Altria, I knew if I didn’t take it I would be passing up on unbeatable experiences and opportunities to improve my professional skills, and I was right. The tobacco aspect of Altria feels like such a big deal at first, but once you are immersed in the company culture and the daily work, and you form relationships with so many incredible people, and you learn what an ethical and integrity-driven company Altria truly is, the tobacco aspect slowly seeps down to the bottom and suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore. By the end of the summer, Altria became a company I was proud to work for and I would spend whatever time I needed to convincing any pessimist I encountered why Altria is a worthy employer.

How did Eller prepare you for your internship?

Honestly, I could not thank Eller enough for the skills I have learned here and was able to apply throughout my internship this summer. BCOM 314, although challenging and sometimes scary in the moment, was the best class I could’ve taken to prepare me for all the presentations I did this summer. Our managers were truly impressed by the communication and presentation skills us Eller kids possessed, and presenting a million times for classes throughout my Eller career made presenting in front of top Circle K and Altria executives a breeze.