Virtual Internship Stories: Kennedy Zhang

"This internship has incentivized me to uncover different dimensions of Columbia previously unbeknownst to me."

May 09, 2023

Name: Kennedy Zhang
School: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences '23
Major: MA in Global Thought
Center: Beijing

Introduce yourself! What's your name, major, and where are you interning this spring semester?

I am Kennedy, a master’s student in Columbia’s Global Thought program. In December 2022, I was selected as the research/sourcing intern for Columbia Global Centers | Beijing. Since January 2023, I had the privilege to work with an incredibly professional and supportive team to advance the Fourth Purpose President Bollinger envisioned in Columbia Global. Throughout my internship, I’m interning virtually from New York City while completing my master's at Columbia’s Morningside campus.

Why did you choose this internship?

When I was in Beijing, I used to walk past the Beijing Global Center on my way home. As a high school senior, I could only dream of the honor of working for the Center. Thus when I received this internship offer, I felt incredibly privileged. I am filled with gratitude towards Columbia Global for this precious opportunity.

Tell us a little bit about your work. What are some of your responsibilities?

My work was divided mainly into English media content management, campus outreach, and research. I was responsible for the preparation of English social media and website content for the Beijing Center's business incubation program, Columbia Startup Accelerator in China (CSAC). Some of my working projects included preparing the English announcements for CSAC's entrepreneurship salon series, such as Women Who Startup Demo Day and ESG Stand-Up Comedy; writing a news recap for CSAC's Startup Talk event; and designing layouts for CSAC's announcement on WeChat.

Regarding campus outreach, I worked on identifying and building connections with students and alumni interested in developing their startup ideas and projects and introducing them to the CSAC program. This involved conducting research and outreach efforts to find individuals who could benefit from the resources and opportunities provided by CSAC. In addition to these efforts, I also actively participated in campus events and activities focused on technology innovation and business development, aiming to incorporate the resources of CSAC with the campus entrepreneurship development-related efforts.

How have you been finding your internship so far? How is this internship different from other internships you have had?

Kennedy Zhang

This internship has incentivized me to uncover different dimensions of Columbia previously unbeknownst to me. I have been fortunate to connect with some fantastic Columbia faculty and alumni entrepreneurs. In terms of working tasks, I've been given projects to work on independently and the opportunity to contribute my ideas to the team. This has been a great learning experience for me, as I've been able to see how my work can have a tangible impact on the Center's business incubation program.

Additionally, the Beijing team has been very accommodating and supportive regarding meeting times and task assignments, and I feel comfortable asking for questions, help, or guidance when needed. Their generosity has minimized the impacts of time zone challenges throughout my internship experience.

I have found this internship to be both intellectually stimulating and personally fulfilling. I am constantly learning new things and being challenged to think creatively, all while helping to support the growth of CSAC community.

Kennedy Zhang, GSAS'23

What's your plan for after university? 

I hope to continue contributing to Columbia Global. During my one year of OPT, I also aspire to intern for International Relations think tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment or the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. 

Do you have any tips for future virtual interns? 

I really enjoyed the virtual internship because it allowed me a lot of time and space flexibility. I worked way more productively in a comfortable and familiar setting. The key is to remain open-hearted and not start with the presumption that virtual interns can’t make a solid experience. It’s extremely important to stay self-motivated and manage your time well with all the flexibility.