Internship: From an International Student's Perspective

Name: Chien Yang

Classification: Second-Year AdGrad Student
Major: M.A. in Advertising and Portfolio Program in Nonprofit Studies

Bio: Born and raised in Taiwan, Chien received her undergraduate degree in Marketing. She acquired practical experience in an education-related student organization and marketing internship in a human-centered design studio which inspired her to obtain a skill set of marketing and communication and apply to the cause-driven arena. With a focus on the combination of social media analytics and nonprofit studies, Chien’s ultimate goal is to reduce inequalities in the world.

What is the biggest difference you see between the university experience here and in your home country?

The dynamics of the learning experience in the United States is very different from what I had previously encountered. Growing up in a teacher-centered environment (one-way communication) has trained me to pay attention and take notes in lectures. Therefore, I was impressed with my peers’ proactiveness through their engaging questions and discussions during lectures. Initially, I used to pre-plan by writing scripts to speak up in class in order to avoid being silent or feeling lost. Now, I feel more confident and comfortable participating in discussion-based classes through continuous exposure to the learning experience.

Talk about your internship experience this summer. What was the internship like?

I interned at the Central Texas Food Bank (CTFB) as a social media intern. It s a non-profit organization involved with food access and hunger relief in Central Texas. I worked closely with the Digital Marketing Manager, Branding Manager, Content Specialist and the Director of Marketing in the MarComm Team. There were three main projects under my responsibilities: creating lists of social influencers to engage with, using social analytics and providing weekly suggestions, as well as planning and executing a social media campaign to promote existing fundraising events. There were also opportunities to work alongside with staff members in different departments, such as volunteer resources, food sourcing, community outreach and educational programs.

What was your favorite part of the internship?

This was a perfect experience for me to practice data analysis in a non-profit sector given the food bank’s abundant internal marketing resources and established brand assets. What I appreciated and enjoyed the most was the opportunity to work independently on the 2-week social media contest. The main goal was to engage our target audience on social media and increase their awareness of CTFB’s rebranding and new facilities. I was able to develop this campaign by planning a content calendar, scheduling daily posts, interacting with social influencers, and producing videos. Thanks to my coworkers’ trust and encouragement, this hands-on experience helped me realize the difficulties of initiating an action through social media and strengthened my interest in digital metrics and analytics.

What are your favorite food places in Austin?

Tyson’s Taco, Rudy’s BBQ, Terry Black's Barbecue, Julie’s Noodles, Halal Bros, Top Notch, P Terry’s and Torchy’s Taco.

What kind of music are you into? Any favorite music artists or bands of all time?

Mostly alternative rock, but sometimes hip pop and instrumental music. I have many favorite artists but just to name a few: Kings of Convenience, Paolo Nutini, Soft Lipa, Fiona Apple, Jonathan Lee, Alabama Shakes, Slow Club, Damien Rice, Shiina Ringo, Deserts Chang and a lot more.

Any advice for international students to thrive in Austin (or the U.S. in general)?

  1. Accept your differences from others.
  2. At appropriate circumstances, communicate with people about difficulties you as an international student might come across. This is to let people understand your background and efforts to adjust in a new culture.
  3. Allow a period of time for improvements to happen.
  4. Discover and approach Austin from different aspects. Go out and explore as much as you can!