SIA prepares student to become international reporter

SIA student Biyun Song

Biyun Song has known for years that she wants to be a journalist covering international affairs, but her undergraduate studies in journalism only taught her the skills she’d need to know—not the content.

“I chose to come to the School of International Affairs to learn more about international relations, affairs, and economics,” Song said. “I’ve learned a great deal, which helped me a lot during my internship this summer at CCTV America.”

Song joined the international staff of the Chinese state-affiliated CCTV in Washington, D.C., where she worked behind the scenes on the politically focused program “The Heat.” There, she honed her technical skills through shooting and editing video, as well as her understanding of international affairs through researching global issues, pitching story ideas, and writing interview questions for guests from across the world.

Although the aspiring reporter had previously interned with news outlets in her native China, Song credits the SIA Career Service Office and their series of workshops with helping her improve the job searching and interviewing skills that landed her the position with CCTV.

“The workshop ‘Transitioning to the Professional World’ last semester taught me how to make a good first impression with my supervisor and colleagues, the necessity of finding a mentor, and how to express my ambition appropriately in this industry,” Song said. “I followed this advice throughout the internship and found it extremely helpful.”

At CCTV America, Song worked on a wide range of stories with international implications, including American-Chinese relations, the Venezuelan and Puerto Rican economic crises, the South China Sea dispute, the Sri Lankan civil war, and the U.S. presidential elections. In addition, she helped produce shows with many notable guests, including a Sri Lankan ambassador and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Through working on these stories, Song gained valuable insight into various aspects of global economics and international relations, as well as the relationship and differences between Western and Eastern media outlets, building on the international worldview she’s cultivated through her studies at the School of International Affairs.

“My studies here helped me to quickly understand these global issues, the topics I needed to pitch, and what kind of stories we needed to focus on,” Song said. “But I also know now what other kind of courses I still need to take, so I’m very much looking forward to this semester.”