‘sup Diplomacy? – World Edition: Fiona Cotton

Written by Fiona Cotton, master’s candidate in the Public Diplomacy Program at Syracuse University.

This summer I have had the opportunity to intern at Kenexa China, located in Shanghai.

Kenexa China is part of a global human resources solutions provider based in the U.S. When I found out where I would be working, I was honestly a bit skeptical how I would be able to learn more about public diplomacy at an HR company. In the past few weeks, I have been able to learn how diplomacy can truly permeate all types of fields. I am currently part of the marketing and public relations department in Kenexa’s Shanghai branch, working on special projects in China. I am extremely lucky to have a very supportive group of supervisors, who have given me the opportunity to experience firsthand the inner-workings of how an international company does business in China. I was also invited to attend the company’s HR Conference in Beijing this past week, and had the chance to meet with the company’s CEO during one of his recent visits to Shanghai.

Working in this position has given me valuable insight of just how complicated it can be to open and run a company in China, as there are countless rules and regulations unique to this market. Without a doubt, my supervisors have had to master their own diplomatic skills to be able to be successful in this business environment. In addition to official regulations, organizations must also understand the extremely diverse and segmented Chinese population, and work to frame their mission in unique ways to appeal to these publics.

By the first week of my placement, I had already begun using many of the critical research and PR writing skills we were taught in our classes; writing content for press releases and PR materials. As I begin my final weeks of this internship, I have begun to reflect on this amazing experience. It has been both challenging and rewarding, as is often true of study abroad programs. I am extremely thankful that I’ve been able to expand and develop many of the skills and lessons I have learned in the public diplomacy program. Being able to navigate sensitive cultural negotiations, deal with translation issues, and function within strict government regulations are all important parts of executing business, and government, relations in China.

What makes working within this environment worthwhile, is being able to witness the dynamic industries and organizations that are developing here and working to improve the lives of millions of Chinese citizens. Without a doubt, this internship has shown me that I can practice public diplomacy in a variety of ways, and has made me even more thankful for the diverse skill set that the PD program at Syracuse has afforded me thus far.

Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization, agency, or department.

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