Aaron Mwewa is a Public Diplomacy student who will complete both a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations by the spring of 2018.
This summer, I was privileged to live my dream — to intern at the United Nations Children’s Fund Headquarters in the Communications for Development (C4D) Section in New York. All of this was made possible thanks to Syracuse University’s robust alumni network. Being interested in the work of the U.N., I took a class with distinguished Prof. Catherine Bertini called “United Nations Organizations: Managing for Change.” Throughout the course, I met former Syracuse University students, including Ms. Shannon O’shea who connected me to Senior C4D Advisor Dr. Kerida Macdonald, under whom I currently work.
My supervisors were so happy with my performance that they decided to extend my internship until Nov. 14, 2017, which is for another three months approximately. I will be doing the extended part virtually and visit the New York office whenever I get the opportunity. What helped me to hit the ground running is the fact that I had been doing work with the same office even before the internship officially began.
This internship is a perfect fit for me, as my ambition is to become a thought leader in Africa in C4D, because I am convinced that communication must be at the heart of any sustainable development effort as it can help to bring those on the margins of society to the table. When women and children are brought to the table, their families have a chance to benefit more from any key social outcomes. For me, there could be no better stage than UNICEF on which I could practice and learn about this evolving field.
While at UNICEF, I helped develop a draft research outline for the forthcoming research on the digital engagement of youths in conversations on developmental issues. This research will take place in 37 countries. I was also essential to putting together theatre for development best practices through a compendium which is scheduled to be published soon. With the assistance of the country offices, I packaged many stories that will be used in the book.
The highlight of my internship was being asked to edit the final draft of the C4D online course designed for UNICEF employees and those who are passionate about the field. This course will help to create other champions like me, who will use C4D to create real impact in the lives of children by giving them a voice. This way, I would have contributed in real Maxwellian fashion to making the world a better place, because a voice for children is a voice for the future.
Alex Jorgensen was a Public Diplomacy (PD) Student who completed a joint MAIR/MSPR. He finished his degree in the spring of 2016. PD students combine an MA in International Relations from the Maxwell School with a MS in Public Relations from the Newhouse School.
This semester I had the privilege of working as an Account Executive at JM Strategic Communications Group in Manhattan. JMSC’s mission is to supply a high-level strategic consultancy to public and private companies in their investor relations and public relations practices. Our mission is to combine business objectives with strategy to communicate effectively to shareholders and stakeholders a company’s story and performance.
My daily activities consist of:
Drafting press/earnings releases
Media monitoring clients and peers
Developing investor presentations for clients
Fully develop & launched our company’s new website (jmscgroup.com, launched in February 2016)
Listen to and analyze quarterly earnings calls
Assist in running earnings conference call
Learn the fundamentals surrounding investor communication and initial public offerings
Gain knowledge of capital markets, the buy and sell side of wall street, and communicating a company’s story effectively both qualitatively and quantitatively
As I developed the basic skills to establish myself in the firm I felt that the Public Diplomacy program puts practitioners in a unique position to differentiate themselves. Students from the Public Diplomacy program have the skills to differentiate themselves through traditional public relations experience from practical PR curriculum, digital marketing, social media strategy, and an understanding of working with government officials while being a non-state actor. Through developing public relations strategies for particular clients, developing a network of Search Engine Optimization colleagues who bolster my digital media knowledge, and delivering on social media operations for in-house accounts and client accounts; I saw firsthand how lessons from the PD program applied directly to my daily routine.
Some key lessons from my practicum were that I learned the foundations of building marketing strategies for communicating the value of a start-up to new business and the general public, through the research and development of our company’s website. Possibly the most impactful lesson was in the balance between quality and timeliness. To become an expert in any field one must learn how to prioritize which tasks need to be treated with extensive detail, and which need to be turned at a speed that combines quality with timeliness. I do not think I have mastered this skill, but think that I am further than I imagined I could be in one semester’s time.
Another key application from Maxwell was knowledge about how the government functions, specifically with non-state actors. The government plays an important role in our operations. The sweeping regulations that came with Sarbanes-Oaxley, and the 2009 financial crisis have produced an environment in which public companies need to constantly be vigilant of the information they disclose in ensuring an equal playing field for all investors. Whether or not that playing field has been established is not up to the practitioners themselves, but taking accountability of their own day-to-day operations should produce a synergistic effect that ensures that playing field is intact. This experience was an incredible way to apply lessons from Maxwell and Newhouse to the beginning of my professional career in investor relations.