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Intern Blog

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.

Claudia Lockwood, Public Relations Intern, had the opportunity to meet Navid Negahban, an actor from the hit TV show Homeland.

Birthday celebrations, cupcake deliveries, and a table of delicious goodies are all common occurrences in the public relations office. The office I work in is the destination of many VOA employees due to our generous hospitality and, of course, our treats.

Although the treats are absolutely delicious, there is a hard-working atmosphere in the office. Being a part of the public relations team means dealing with all of the language services, any issues that arise when dealing with the media, and updating the Inside VOA website and social media pages.

The main project that I worked on while in the public relations office was not as mainstream as one would expect of a public relations intern. While I did perform the tasks of posting on Facebook and Twitter, my main project has been revamping the Inside VOA History webpage. At first the assignment was a bit daunting. Researching the entire history of VOA in just a few months?!? The task seemed almost impossible. However, with the help of many books, pamphlets, and VOA historian Alan Heil, I was able to complete an initial draft of the history of VOA in a timeline form.

Now comes the task of editing, a job not for an individual. An army of editors, mainly the PR office, will take the project and polish it into a VOA timeline, one for the records. Once edited, the history of VOA project will be formatted into a high-tech software that will change the Inside VOA history webpage forever (you should really check out the current history page and you will know what I mean).

All hard work comes with a little play. While on the job I have met countless bands and musicians through Larry London on Border Crossings. I have also had the opportunity to practice my Arabic with visiting Afghan Diplomats. Even celebrities have made special appearances in the public relations office! For all you homeland fans out there, I had the privilege of meeting Navid Negahban (Abu Nazir), who is a very charismatic man. Interning at VOA is not complete without a special visit to the rooftop. I was fortunate enough to witness the inaugural broadcast from the new rooftop studio. There is nothing like the view of DC from the top of the VOA building. It is safe to say that my time at VOA has been one for the books.

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