Grady InternViews: Xinge Lei
Grady InternViews: Xinge Lei
This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.
Xinge is a fourth-year public relations student interning with Sahiyo as a social media and communications intern. Read on as she provides insight into what this internship looks like.
I’m currently working as the social media and communications intern for Sahiyo, a non-profit, female-led organization focused on ending the practice of female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/M) worldwide. Some of my responsibilities include generating graphics and captions for social media, scheduling posts, organizing the website, working with other team members on special campaigns, writing content for the blog, attending bi-weekly meetings with my supervisor and completing monthly reports.
What does the structure of your internship look like?
My internship is remote and lasts six months. This works well for me, as I’m traveling abroad for the summer to visit family. I have a main supervisor, the Sahiyo communications coordinator, whom I regularly communicate with over e-mail and Zoom.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
My biggest challenge working with Sahiyo (and probably every other organization) is finding the right balance in creative executions. What I mean by that is curating content from my own artistic insights while maintaining the organization’s existing aesthetic. Everything I create must be reviewed by other executives before publication, and a lot of it eventually gets altered. Through this process, I’ve learned about the style of posts that they prefer, and have worked hard to present more “fitting” content. Understanding that balance but also voicing my own ideas can be difficult, since I’m relatively new. However, the team is very supportive and easy-going, which makes me feel comfortable in speaking my mind (respectively, of course).
What has been your favorite part about your internship so far? Tell us a story if you have one!
The topic of FGC/M can be shocking, to say the least, for those of us outside of practicing communities. Although I’ve heard about it before, I’ve never researched it in detail or listened to personal accounts. The survivor stories from Sahiyo are incredibly emotional but inspiring at the same time. The truth is, FGC/M takes root from misogyny, patriarchy and inequality. Understanding the cultural context, the reasonings despite how disturbed they may be, is key to change. While it is difficult for me, (mentally and physically) at times, to listen to these stories, they are so important. I have so much admiration for these girls and women because even through their trauma, they are able to stand up for those who are suffering in silence.
How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?
Several classes and clubs at Grady have helped prepare me, especially my PR communications course. In class, we focused on content creation across platforms, PR writing, and presentation/interview skills, all of which proved useful both in the process of finding the internship and fulfilling its tasks.
What’s your advice to other students looking for a similar opportunity?
Ask yourself if this role makes sense for you, personally and professionally. Do your values align? Do your past experiences fit with the expectations? Be honest with yourself when researching a company, and don’t make the assumption that more applications equate to more opportunities. Be intentional! Spend your time wisely during the process.
How will this role guide your future career path?
The responsibilities of this internship have demonstrated to me various hard and soft skills needed in the PR/media industry. They’re equally important: time management is just as necessary as software knowledge. This role has helped me distinguish and understand what skills I may need most in the fields that I’m interested in, as well as improve upon them.
What’s your career goal?
I want to work as an editorial designer for an art or lifestyle magazine!
What lessons will you take back with you to the classroom in the fall?
Take heart with all entrusted projects, be mindful of other people’s time and always share your visions.
How has this role helped you discover what you are passionate about?
I don’t think the role helped me discover, but rather, reinforced my passion. I love artistic expression and storytelling, always have. The problem is, I didn’t have confidence in my own abilities. This internship opportunity allowed me to put these skills (and many others) in practice, for a vital cause too. I’m grateful for that.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be so hard on yourself!