Before I began my internship I knew that I had a good knowledge of what a public relations practitioner should know and do, but I didn't know if I could put that education to work. Luckily, I got my first-hand experience in the “real world” at the Voice of America Public Relations office. The practical experience that I gained at VOA is essential to develop skills that aren’t learned in the classroom.
Throughout my internship I performed duties such as writing articles and social media drafts, which were challenging initially, but the PR team guided me through every step. Giving tours improved my public speaking immensely and I had the opportunity to interact with a diverse audience. Prior to giving my first tour I was extremely anxious, but when I started talking to the audience I forgot how nervous I was. I even gave two group tours that had more than 20 people each without hesitation!
I enjoyed meeting VOA employees from different nationalities and learning about their experiences. I visited several language services such as Urdu, Mandarin, and Spanish. I also sat in on a few radio and television shows which were amazing because I got to see what goes on behind-the-scenes. I attended events hosted by VOA such as the Boko Haram: Journey from Evil documentary premiere at the United States Institute of Peace.
My main project for the fall was constructing a map for the VOA website. The map identified VOA reporters, bureaus, transmitters, affiliates and FM frequencies. This project involved a lot of time and research. I contacted different language services and various employees from VOA to find information and many times I went to see them personally. Furthermore, I entered all the data with appropriate icons and labels. After all the hard work, “VOA Around the World” was finally displayed on the website!
Everyone in the PR office has been very supportive and kind. They were always ready to answer any questions or concerns I had. The best thing about the PR office is that they treat you as an integral part of the team and value new ideas. I highly recommend interning with VOA PR because they dedicate their time and resources to help you improve as a professional and make your internship experience unique.