CMU makes internship agreement with Weber Shandwick China

Public relations students will be able to intern for one of the largest international firms in the world.

Each summer, Central Michigan University can send up to two undergraduate students to Beijing to intern at Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm that was named Global Agency of the Year in 2014 by the Holmes Report. The agreement was finalized in January and continues until Dec. 31, 2021. The internship is open to juniors and seniors majoring in integrative public relations or journalism with a PR concentration. Students must apply by Feb. 20, 2015. 

"International education has always been focused on, but could be stronger at CMU," said department of journalism Chair Jiafei Yin. "To be successful, students have to be aware of the opportunities around the world.

Because CMU would be sending undergraduates, Yin said the opportunity would make participants' resumes stand out while entering the professional industry after graduation. Internships of this caliber are normally reserved for graduate students.

Weber Shandwick belongs to Interpublic Group, an organization of companies with offices in over 100 countries. Because many different companies belong to IPG, Ren said there could also be opportunities for students to work outside of the PR field after completing the internship.

When department of journalism faculty Chunbo Ren began teaching at CMU in 2012, he was inspired by how Yin started the China Daily internship program. Having been an account supervisor for Weber Shandwick and acquiring 10 years of experience in the industry, he had the resources to do something similar.

“I’m so excited,” Ren said. “I think I made a great contribution with this internship program.”

In summer 2014, Ren visited China and talked to the management about the possibility of working at Weber Shandwick temporarily. While there, he promoted CMU’s public relations programs, explaining both the integrative public relations major and the journalism major with a public relations concentration.

“I received full support from the management,” Ren said.

Ren said the internship is a great opportunity to learn about the Chinese market, learn about a new culture, network and gain experience working with real clients. He especially recommends the program for students interested in working in international PR or working at a Fortune 500 company with international clients.

Though not a requirement, Chinese language experience is preferred for internship applicants. Interns are paired with a mentor, but Ren encourages students to volunteer to help with other projects too.

“You have to understand the market and the culture. It’s really up to the student; you have to open up and want to learn more,” Ren said. “You have to volunteer. If you sit there and say, ‘I only do what I’m assigned,’ you learn less.”

Yin said students should focus more on international news

The program will be promoted in fall 2015, giving students more time to apply, but since the agreement was just recently made, students don’t have much time to prepare their applications.

If students are selected as interns this year, Ren will introduce students to colleagues at the company. He also plans on going to China next year to make sure the program goes well.

Ren said students could also have concerns about program costs. Selected interns will receive a stipend, which Ren said is enough to cover meals and transportation. Interns are responsible for travel costs and local housing, but Ren said the Office of Study Abroad is supportive about helping students find housing. The internship also can fulfill IPR 555 internship credits.