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Early Success - Recent marketing grad begins her career at Lilly

Katarina Nikolovski Alumna Katarina Nikolovski (BS ’23) began her time at Purdue University’s Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business with a clear goal in mind. “I wanted to graduate in three years and begin my career early,” she says.

Now an incoming marketing associate at Eli Lilly and Co., Nikolovski did just that all while juggling a heavy course load, completing three internships, actively participating in case competitions and the Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Business, and serving as president of the Purdue Marketing Association. She credits those experiences with helping to develop her leadership and teamwork abilities. “Actively guiding my peers to success is important to me,” she says. “I’ve always gravitated toward roles that have an impact.”

One factor in Nikolovski’s success has been the Confident Transitions program led by one of her mentors, Cara Putman, a clinical assistant professor at the Daniels School and director of the Brock-Wilson Center. The yearlong program includes monthly meetings, workshops and a reading list aimed at helping prepare young women to excel in the transition to life after graduation. “We’ve learned about everything from networking and personal finances to apartment hunting and building a community outside of work,” she says. “It also gives us a safe space to talk about challenges we may face as women in the workplace and how to overcome them.”

Nikolovski is eager to share her secrets to success with others, including students at Purdue and other state universities. “I am passionate about helping people grow in areas where I once struggled, so I lead workshops and guest speak on topics like personal branding, networking, landing internships, marketing, case competitions, and more,” she says. “I love meeting new people and sharing my knowledge.”

Her internships have been impactful, too. She began as a marketing intern with VOX Network Solutions the summer following her freshman year, followed by a fall virtual internship with Facebook. Her big break came during Lilly Day on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, where company recruiters annually look for the next generation of healthcare professionals. “I had a great conversation with one of Lilly’s recruiters and interviewed for an internship before my final year of college,” Nikolovski says. “I felt very fortunate to be given the opportunity.”

Nikolovski joined Lilly’s Global Marketing-Diabetes Unit doing the type of work she aspires to — helping solve challenges. “I had a great summer, met a lot of Purdue people, and gave a good presentation on my role in the project,” she says. “The experience solidified my decision to graduate early, so I was excited when Lilly made me a full-time offer that August.”

She began her career with the pharmaceutical giant in July 2023 as an associate in the Lilly Marketing Academy, where she will complete two, six-month rotations in a progressive series of entry level marketing roles under the supervision and coaching of an experienced marketer. Upon completion of two successful rotations, she’ll graduate from the program and become eligible to apply for a permanent marketing role in one of Lilly’s four main business units.

“I’m currently working on the pre-launch marketing strategy for a new breast cancer drug, which is personally important to me because there’s a history of the disease in my family,” she says. “I’m not sure where I’ll rotate to next, but I’m looking forward to building my career with Lilly.”

Nikolovski was also recently named the youngest member of the Daniel's School Alumni Board, a role that further propels her passions. “Don McKay, Mary Slater, and some other members of  the board were strong advocates for me,” she says. “I’m honored to be able share my time and talents to further the mission of the School of Business by directly engaging its students, faculty and alumni.”