Bilhissa Fadiga is a public relations junior and a student in the first cohort of Newhouse DC, a new, off-campus program through the Newhouse School. The Harlem native has always been interested in communications, public speaking and creativity, which has translated well into her chosen major and her Newhouse DC internship at Grassroots Analytics. While at Newhouse, Fadiga is a Newhouse Ambassador and the director of public relations for the Syracuse University chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. After graduation, she aspires to work in public relations in the technology industry and also dreams of working for one of her favorite brands, Nike.
Why did you choose to participate in Newhouse DC?
I learned about the program from another Newhouse student, a broadcast and digital journalism major. I figured since it was the first time DC was ever going to happen, it would be extremely cool to participate in it. It is always great to be able to say you are the first one to do something. Aside from that, I wanted to get a feel for the professional world in DC. I wanted to see if I would be interested in politics and communications within the political sphere. I wanted to meet people within this environment, make connections and see if I would be able to relate to their experiences.
What has it been like interning for Grassroots Analytics?
It has been different to intern for Grassroots Analytics. They are a database of donors for progressive nonprofits and campaigns. I have been working mostly on internal communications and how we communicate with each other as a team, as well as coming up with different strategies they could use if they wanted to strengthen their media presence. It has not always been easy, but I have learned so many different skills. I would say that my time at Grassroots has been impactful and crucial to my professional development as I have learned how to use specific language when discussing their services and when reaching our client base.
What is something you take away from your Newhouse DC experience?
One takeaway is to make the best of every situation and make everything meaningful. When walking into a situation, make sure that you know what you want to get out of it. Especially with an internship, you have to make sure you are clear about what you want out of your experience. Also, I want to note that we have access to the Newhouse Network in DC, so I would say to make use of them. I really feel like they are here to help, and are willing to come and speak with students about several different things.
What is one unexpected thing that happened during your time in DC?
One really cool thing we were able to do was meet with a retired CIA agent. We discussed the difference between disinformation and misinformation with him.
What would you like people to know about the program?
Overall I would just encourage more people to join in the upcoming semesters, because right now there are only five people in the program. I think it is an experience that is worth trying for everyone. It is so nice to get a feel for a new city, and you do not have to be extremely into politics to enjoy Newhouse DC. I also want to send my appreciation to the director of Newhouse DC, Beverly Kirk, as well as the extensive alumni network in Washington, D.C.
Olivia Jackson is a sophomore public relations major at the Newhouse School.