Meet Young Alum – Rilee Catalano

Being offered a solid job right out of college is not a common occurrence, but our very young ’15 alum, Rilee Catalano proved that it is possible. Her hard work while at school paid off, and she is grateful for every opportunity.

Riley CatalanoCatalano officially graduated last spring Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Public Relations and Business Administration. She then moved to Columbus, Ohio to live with friends and has been preparing for her job through an internship. For over a year, she has been virtually interning with the Fortune 20 Health Care company called Cardinal Health. In June, she will begin a full-time position with them in the Managerial Training Program called EMERGE.

Leading up to her full-time position, Catalano has been getting familiar with the company’s internal communication through her Communication Internship. She has been working on a project with Cardinal Health’s corporate social media Internet, which is similar to a corporate Facebook. “Our corporate Facebook is called ‘Engage.’ It was created about two years ago by my supervisor, the Director of Internal Communication, as a way to first, connect the workplace, second, generate open two-way communication, and third, enable collaboration and idea sharing,” she said.

Her supervisor approached her and said that the Chief of HR and the Vice President of Communications were wondering if her project, Engage, was meeting its goals. Without any metrics or measurements in place, Catalano had a large task ahead of her. She was presented with the job as their intern to quantify how the social media was performing, so they could prove to the Chief and VP that it was working. This included researching to seek out measurements of collaboration, communication, and networking online.

“I’ve been able to go into the data system and create metrics and case studies, so I’m creating both quantitative and qualitative measures of various indicators of networking, two-way communication, and innovation,” Catalano said.

She sometimes cannot believe how far she has come, thinking back to being at Indiana Wesleyan just a year ago. “Being at IWU, I was able to be a big fish in a small pond,” she said. Catalano served on the leadership team for PRSSA [Public Relations Student Society of America], contributed writing for the school newspaper, The Sojourn, and broadcasted as a host for the WIWU TV station.

“I honestly learned so much at school that I never went into an interview where I didn’t have an experience to relate to. My experiences at IWU were amazing because of all the opportunities I was able to have just by taking the initiative and wanting it,” she said. “All of it was so valuable. IWU definitely helped make me the professional person I am today.”

Another opportunity she is grateful for is her senior internship with the Grant County Economic Growth Council. During her time with the Growth Council, she coordinated three professional networking events, one of which was new. This event was called Date to Innovate, and is now on it’s second year.

Riley 2When Catalano found out that the upcoming PRSSA team will be partnering with the Growth Council to continue Date to Innovate, she was thrilled and humbled. “That wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for me, and I can’t say that about very many things in this world. It’s awesome to know that somehow, I made a tangible impact that I can actually see. That’s so rewarding for me,” she said.

Catalano believes that the best experiences in life are those that make you grow, and you cannot grow without being challenged. Everything she did throughout college was challenging, especially her internship at the Growth Council: “In that role, they required me to take a lot of initiative, be a self-starter and a self-manager, and manage my own time… I know that all of my experiences while in college in Marketing and Communications definitely prepared me to be a big fish in a really big pond.”

Once she starts her full time Managerial role at Cardinal Health in June, she sure will be in a “big pond.” The program that she will enter is called EMERGE and it is focused on offering leadership development through experiencing different positions. Catalano will we placed in a different position every year within her function. Since she is in the Marketing role, she will be training to become a Marketing Manager with their business by doing a different Marketing role every year for the next three years.

“This year, I will be working in Pharmaceutical Consumer Health doing Marketing with independent Pharmacy owners. I’ll curate content, research, work with customer service, and plan events,” Catalano explained.

She has not even technically started her job yet, but is already booking flights and hotels for a retail business conference in Las Vegas this summer: “The team that I am with has a big hand in coordinating the function. I’ve already started on it and it’s really fun.”

It is encouraging to see our graduates succeeding in their career paths and enjoying every step. Catalano is one example of many who has an obvious passion for what she does. She thanks everyone who pushed her to become the woman she is today: “I’ve been empowered and given a lot of confidence. I can now look at a blank piece of paper and say, ‘I can make something of this on my own, because I’ve done it before.’”


Written by Kelly Reed. Kelly is a senior Strategic Communications major with a focus in Public Relations. She is the President of IWU PRSSA and hopes to work as a communications director of a nonprofit organization after graduation.