Melissa Dillinger '02 Gives COM Students Insight into the Real World of PR

February 23, 2012

By Ivy Hillman '12

Melissa Dillinger '02 spoke to the Public Relations Student Society of America at the GCC on Wednesday, February 15.  Melissa is currently the division communications manager for Caterpillar, Inc.

Dillinger spoke about her career path after graduating as a communications major.

"My career really started while I was a student on the Hilltop," said Dillinger.  "When talking with students I stress the importance of why it's important to start your career while in college.  If you get professional experience early on you will always be one step ahead of your competition."

Before starting work at Caterpillar, Inc., she worked for Granite Broadcasting at WEEK-TV 25 as a reporter, producer and anchor. She started at Caterpillar, Inc. in 2005 as a multimedia specialist, became communications lead in 2008, and finally moved to division communications manager in 2011.

During her time at Bradley, Dillinger completed two prominent internships. From January of 1999 to May of 2000, she worked as a U.S. Congressional intern for the Office of U.S. Representative Ray LaHood. Immediately after that she worked as a marketing and communications intern for the Office of Illinois Lieutenant Governor until Sept. of 2000.

Dr. Maha Bashri, assistant professor of public relations, was glad that Dillinger could finally visit Bradley to speak to student and to share her vast experience with Caterpillar, Inc.

"PRSSA chose her because she is an exemplar of a successful PR person at one of the biggest companies in the U.S.," Bashri said.

Dillinger seems to be what most students hope to become.

"She is very passionate about her job and an articulate speaker," Bashri said.

Senior public relations major Ken Sanderman attended Dillinger's event and appreciated what she had to offer.

"She really laid everything out for you. She told her personal story of how hard she worked to get where she is, and it shows you that there are people out there working a lot harder than most people realize just to get their first job," Sanderman said.

Sanderman was able to draw his own helpful conclusion from the event.

"Be dedicated. You will need to sacrifice some things in order to get where you want to go. If it means staying in on a Saturday night or working early morning hours, then so be it. If it gets you to where you want to go then you'll be glad you did it when you get there," Sanderman said.