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Ruoxi Zhang - Public Relations Intern

Ruoxi Zhang (left) and PR colleagues on the VOA rooftop
Ruoxi Zhang (left) and PR colleagues on the VOA rooftop

If you had asked me about my expectations of my internship here at the Voice of America Public Relations office, I wouldn’t have had any. Okay, perhaps I had a small unrealistic fear that my boss would be like the one in the Devil Wears Prada. But besides that, I showed up to my first day of work like a blank page, open to any new experience, ready for the challenge, and determined to do well.

Much to my relief, my boss (nor my other colleagues) is nothing like Miranda Priestly. I really have never been in a friendlier work environment. Everyone here has been incredibly nice.

My very first big assignment as a public relations intern was to collect information on social media sites each of the language services maintain. I had to contact each service chief to find out how many different platforms they used, and if any of their TV or radio programs had its own separate social media presence.

Running a language service is a hard job, involving a lot of supervision and inter-department coordination. Despite being busy, nevertheless, the VOA language service chiefs all extended a warm welcome into their offices, and made time for me specifically to answer my questions. They either provided me the information themselves or directed me to their web specialists. On many occasions, they went beyond my questions and explained to me what they had done in the past, what programs they were currently doing, and how their services worked. Their enthusiasm for their work moved me. I appreciated the comprehensive information they provided me. I liked the way they treated me—as if I was just another staff in the building. and not “just” an intern.

Looking back, I’m genuinely grateful for my time as a VOA intern. It was three months of unforgettable experiences -- yes, including the disruption of the government shutdown, a unique experience in itself. I met many wonderful people here -- colleagues, celebrities who came in for interviews, and even an alumnus of my school (Cornell).

My work at the VOA Public Relations office—taking outside phone calls, responding to email requests, helping out with the studio tour when there were foreign groups involved, negotiating between departments, and so forth—has significantly enhanced my communication skills. In addition, the international environment made me feel at home here at Voice of America. My internship experience constitutes an integral part of my semester in DC. I will cherish my days spent here, and if I’m given the chance, I would be more than happy to come back.