From Hong Kong Protests to a Minerva Internship: Meet Rachel

Rachel Yang stands on a street in Hong Kong with protestors, holding a reporters microphone

By Malia Mackey— 


A few weeks into her fall internship with Minerva, we sat down with Rachel Yang. Rachel is from the Pacific Northwest, and she’s doing a virtual internship with us from Portland, Oregon after working as a journalist in Hong Kong for several years. We are excited for you to meet her!


Where are you from and what brought you to the PNW?  


I was born in Hong Kong, but was raised in Vancouver, Washington so that’s where I would say I’m from. I just got back here after college and working in Hong Kong for seven or eight years.

I was a nursing student in Vancouver at Clark college, but then decided that I needed a change. I applied to Hong Kong Baptist University—and I definitely got the change I needed! Their communication and journalism program is really good, and I fell in love with the work. In my last year, I did an internship at a local TV station. That experience made me decide to stay for five more years to work as a journalist. Everyone is incredibly competitive in academics and journalism, so coming back home to a more laid-back Portland was a very welcome change of pace.


You describe yourself as a recovering journalist; what was journalism like, and what made you shift towards public relations and communications?


Working as a journalist in Hong Kong is very competitive. You always want to be the first to break the story, there’s always someone working around the clock. I was both on screen and writing articles, in English and Chinese. This was a challenge since I had to learn how to type in Chinese. I would also translate the story to English, and then sometimes would be writing the whole story from my phone in the car, on the field, or anywhere.

I covered breaking news, soft stories, the weather, and the Hong Kong protests during my time at a few different media stations. It kept me on my toes and was exciting, but the around-the-clock intensity was ultimately what made me shift gears towards communications and PR.

A lot of recovering journalists go this direction for more stability. I decided to go to University of Oregon to get my master’s in strategic communications.



What was it like to be on the other side of communications outreach?


Often, the communications people that would reach out to me were former journalists, and that was always fun to work with. Working with people both in-house and agencies was always enjoyable. It’s important to have those relationships because you never know when you’ll need each other.


What was it like covering the Hong Kong protests?


I remember my first protest assignment—we knew there would be a protest but didn’t realize it would be an occupied area. I was running back and forth across this huge street for 10 hours, getting sound bites and talking to people on the street. It was largely peaceful, but with some fighting, the stores were forced to close, and for anyone that knows Hong Kong, you know that’s a huge deal.

Covering protests has changed over the years. With police brutality, it has created a cycle of violence and tearing the city apart.

I didn’t always get to go back in the office to do the voiceovers or sound bites. I would put a plastic camera bag over my head and body to create a make-shift sound booth, and then read the scripts from my phone with a professional mic. This wasn’t specific to protests, this was just how we worked.


Why did you choose to intern at Minerva?


I love that Minerva works with organizations in the social good realm.  When I first read client stories and case studies, I was interested. I see so many agencies that put their own business and interests first, but Minerva is inspiring since positive social change is a firm priority. Because of my career pivot, I knew this is where I wanted to dip my toes into the communications industry.


Any good book recommendations?


I’m reading New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms again.

It’s about old power versus new power, where the old power is one-way communications like commercials, or one-way statements. Whereas new power is where everything is bidirectional. Customers can comment, review, and impact other people. This feedback circle is important now across sectors. It’s an important shift that’s happening in both internal and external communications.

I’ve always been interested in industry-specific books and resources—I like to learn more about my work.


Has anything surprised you in your time as a Minerva intern yet?


It’s only been two weeks. It’s a little different for me to be on the other side of PR firms. I am usually on the receiving end of their work. I am surprised at how great the team dynamic is, with check-ins on both a professional and personal level. This is new to me because I’ve never experienced a boss that really cares.

I’m so happy to be on board!


About The Author

Minerva Strategies

Minerva Strategies

The Minerva team has decades of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and values-driven companies. Minerva also partners with experts—trusted designers, web developers, global communications professionals, and others—who share our excitement for creating positive social change. Through these partnerships, we can build a team that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about who we are or what we do.