USC Annenberg students interning in Shanghai and Hong Kong gain invaluable work experience

A group of 18 USC Annenberg journalism, public relations and communication students recently returned home from a successful summer internship in Hong Kong and Shanghai, where they worked for high-profile news and public relations agencies.

This year marked the second summer of the Shanghai program, an effort to strengthen USC Annenberg’s presence on the Chinese mainland. The group included both American and Chinese students, who also took the opportunity to explore and rediscover historically and culturally significant sites.

Besides the cultural benefits and the chance to “turbo-boost” their resumes by working for firms including Weber Shandwick, Edelman and Ketchum, the internship also enhanced students’ USC Trojan experience, said professor Jay Wang, who organized and led the Shanghai program.

“Our goal is not only to enhance team dynamics and the relationships among participants, but also to connect the group with the larger network of USC alums currently living and working in Shanghai,” he said.

“Getting something like this under your belt and making contacts is very important,” said professor Mei Fong, who led the Hong Kong program. “Also, working overseas is exciting, and for many of them, it’s their way of getting their feet wet by working in some of the most dynamic cities in the world.”

The program also included group trips to Beijing, tribal villages in China and Disney Asia headquarters, where they met with Disney’s top communications executive in Asia.

Journalism students reported extensively on everything from Hong Kong's poorest residents living in tiny coffin homes (a twist on Japan's capsule motels) to the plight of its millions of migrant workers. Students Ben Gottlieb and Kristie Hang's July 26 piece on coffin homes was the most emailed story on CNN that day. It was also picked up by local Chinese media.

Emily Frost, who interned at Radio Television Hong Kong as a radio journalist, reported several features, including one on the plight of pregnant migrant workers, who face swift deportation; as well as one on Hong Kong's post-Japan nuclear energy research efforts (Emily’s summer blog is here).

Andrew McIntyre added substantial clips to his collection by working at leading English daily South China Morning Post. His first by-lined clip, on dragonboat racing, posted even before his first day of reporting work. He also wrote about music, old Hong Kong maps, education, biotechnology and court cases. He even published his first obituary. His stories are here:

Both Frost and McIntyre were recipients of USC Annenberg's Kruglak international traveling scholarships. Emily also won a travel scholarship from placement agency Next Step Connections.

Cory Welsh, who worked as a financial PR intern at MSL Hong Kong, said: “The most valuable part of this experience has been the independence I've had to embrace and exercise. I've learned to navigate a new job and a role as the only intern for our corporate and financial PR team at my agency; I've oriented myself and connected with colleagues within a multi-cultural workplace that conducts its craft in both English and Chinese.

“I’ve also gotten to know my local neighborhood (of Mongkok, on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong) and tried local activities and hotspots that led me to a diverse array of friends from around the globe. Living rather than simply traveling in a new city really enables endless learning – about ourselves as well as the world around us.”

Welsh also wrote about her experiences in a company blog post: A “Comms” Major’s First Days in Finance – 3 Lessons in Financial Communications.

Student Ka Li, a native of China, learned more about the professional working world of her homeland, where she hopes to be hired in the PR field after earning her degree in global communication.

“Since I've been studying in foreign countries in the past two years, I became unfamiliar with the Chinese media market. So this was an opportunity for me to get to know the ever-changing media market in China again. And I’ve learned a lot about the Chinese PR industry, which is totally different from the U.S.,” she said, adding that the most valuable part of her internship at Golin Harris Shanghai is the connections she made in the industry where she hopes to work.

More from the students’ experience can be found on their blogs here.

More about USC International Programs, which also include London and Cape Town, is here.