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Wednesday 23 May 2018

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Alyssa Bradley - Public Relations Intern

I think it’s a safe bet that there is no other place like Voice of America. Filled with people from various backgrounds to fill its 45 language services, VOA is almost like a miniature United Nations - which makes it one of the coolest places to intern. I learned about countries and languages I had never heard of before and different cultures, all throughout the single building VOA occupies. As soon as I walked in on my first day, I saw a lobby filled with people from diverse cultures, speaking different language, and with a huge range of work and life experiences and knew I had made a great decision on where to intern.

While interning in the Public Relations department of VOA, I gave tours, wrote articles for the website, conducted research, and helped recruit for the VOA Experts page.

When I applied for this position, I’ll admit I had no idea what I was about to get into. Like many other Americans, I had limited knowledge about this government-funded agency and came in with the assumption it was like many other news organizations; however, I immediately learned VOA had many differences. Through giving tours I learned about VOA’s creation, how they work within government, yet remain separate from government influence, and the interesting facts about its journalists and the sacrifices they made to tell America’s story to the world. I realized the impact VOA had on countries around the world who didn’t have their own free media. The people in Public Relations were integral to my experience as well.

I had several projects over the semester that I could not have achieved without the office staff. Everyone wanted to make sure I was getting the most out of my internship experience and that showed through the work I was given. There was never a dull moment in the PR office. My supervisor Michelle kept me engaged by asking me to contribute to the VOA Authors project where many past and current VOA employees and also wrote a book were recognized with short biographies and blurbs about their own writing about on a wide range of subjects, including VOA. She also took me to numerous events. One of my favorite experiences was visiting the George Washington University to hear VOA’s Digital Strategy Director, Matthew Baise, talk about VOA’s impact in Iran. It was exciting to see students and VOA representatives in the room and learn about how VOA do what they do. I even got to write an article for the website about the event (!

The entire public relations staff – Michelle, Bridget, George, Nigel, Julie, and Anna – made my experience this semester fun and kept me on my toes. I am thankful for my time here at Voice of America and I’ll definitely always remember this experience. Who else can say they got to see Greta Van Susteren live in studio, sit in on meetings with staff and congressional liaisons, or go behind the scenes in TV and radio studios? Voice of America is definitely one of the most unique and fulfilling internship opportunities one could have the privilege to gain.

About Alyssa:

Alyssa is a sophomore at American University studying Public Relations and Strategic Communication with a minor in Political Science. Her experience creating social media content for the NAACP chapter on her campus and co-leading the marketing program of American University Ambassadors is what led her to want an internship at Voice of America and continue studying media relations.

Kiran Paul

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.

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