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Huixian Zhu: Finding A ‘True Passion’ on the Path to a Master’s in Strategic Communication

Huixian Zhu (‘20SPS, M.S. in Strategic Communication) is one of 48 full-time graduate students in the Strategic Communication program this year. Aside from being attracted to the prestige of attending Columbia University, she says she was attracted to the program because she considers “strategy an essential part of professional life.” 

“Strategic Communication does particularly well in connecting business and communication in a real-world setting,” Huixian says. “We learn about the real-world challenges and opportunities happening in the communication world and we know the right approach and tools to address this.”

Prior to attending SPS, Huixian completed her bachelor’s in sociology at East China University of Science and Technology. Huixan originally hails from Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China.

We sat down with Huixian to learn a little bit more about her experience in the program and the internships it has led her to:

What do you love the most about the Strategic Communication program? 

The program has a great geographic location in New York City, alumni resources, and outstanding networking events and opportunities. We have only 48 full-time cohort members this year, so we have a much more in-depth connection to these industry connections, alumni, faculties, and even classmates compared to other large-scale programs.

Coming from a sociology and journalism background, I appreciate how the program provides a very systematic understanding and learning of communication and business and hands-on training I hoped to get. I developed great business writing and digital analytics skills that allow me to stand out in the workplace. 

I also love my cohort, who are the most excellent peers I've interacted with. They all have extensive internship or work experience, and they are highly goal-oriented. Conducting teamwork and being friends with them empower me to be a better person in many ways.

Coming from a sociology and journalism background, I appreciate how the program provides a very systematic understanding and learning of communication and business and hands-on training I hoped to get. I developed great business writing and digital analytics skills that allow me to stand out in the workplace. 

— Huixian Zhu, '20SPS, M.S. in Strategic Communication

How do you apply the skill sets you learned from Strategic Communication in your current internship?

I found my current paid internship in the SPS media and advertising department through the weekly Career Design Lab job list. I love how Columbia acknowledges my ability and gave me this opportunity. I'm grateful to contribute to the global development of our school. 

My scope of work includes market research, digital analytics, and content creation. Every one of my core courses helps me develop skill sets, including conducting desk research, digital analytics, writing, evaluation, and transforming data into insights. These skills have become very valuable in my current work. When I try to promote a program from SPS to potential applicants, I use the knowledge I studied in Strategic Communication, and conducted a very thorough target audience analysis. By measuring different metrics such as conversion rate, and click-through rate, I was able to tap into the right target audiences’ needs, and wrote the perfect ad content for them. This initiative leads to a much more successful rate in attracting applicants. 

Working on campus allows me to develop hands-on experience through my study because it helps me incorporate different aspects of research, digital analytics, insights, and strategies together. I would say joining the program is one of the best life choices I've made. 

Huixan Zhu poses in front of Low Library

How does the program help you shape your career goals?

Before this program, I never realized my true passion is in communication and marketing. However, the program helped me find the value proposition and passion for myself. Through all the projects, case studies, workshops, and events, I've come to an understanding that I have a great passion for the fast-moving consumer goods industry, and I’m applying for a summer internship now. 

Learn more about the M.S. in Strategic Communication program at Columbia University.