NEW YORK: Weber Shandwick has teamed with the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development to give master’s degree candidates hands-on experience in PR within the agency’s walls.
The Weber Shandwick: Masters in Residence program began in fall 2017 with four students who are pursuing graduate degrees in the Media, Culture, and Communication program at NYU’s Steinhardt school.
"We’ve been thinking about how to contribute to this industry, an industry that is not typically diverse and an industry that could use some innovative, new, out-of-the-box kind of thinking," said Charlton McIlwain, NYU Steinhardt associate dean for faculty development and diversity. "Weber came to us with this opportunity and we saw our goals were ultimately aligned."
As part of the program, the students are working in Weber’s New York office, getting experience in the PR field with the firm’s content, client, integrated media, and insights teams. The two-year program covers tuition and allows students to work full-time in one of the firm’s international offices during the summer, along with the part-time position during the semester.
In comparison with a normal internship, the master’s students are embedded in teams at Weber for the entire two-year program, rather than just a semester or summer internship.
"In a world of internships and fellowships, how could we create something that transcended those and create the kind of program it takes to create that next generation of talent?" said Gail Heimann, president of Weber Shandwick. "What makes this different from a typical internship, where we know students are coming in and leaving in a couple months, this has the advantage of being immersive."
Heimann added that the program is in "constant beta" as both Weber and NYU tweak it. Covering the cost of tuition also helps to build a diverse source of talent within Weber and the industry at large, McIlwain said.
"For us, Weber Shandwick, and the industry, the future of the business and future of the industry is talent," Heimann said. "We need individuals that pull together the importance of diversity in business, the importance of understanding tech and media, and a real curiosity around global. That's the way we tried to shape this program, we are bringing within Weber Shandwick the kind of individuals that have those talents and help those individuals grow."