Grady InternViews: Ethan Henderson

Grady InternViews: Ethan Henderson

August 08, 2023

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.  

Ethan Henderson is a fourth-year journalism student working with Sightly as a media strategy intern. Read on as he provides insight into what this internship looks like.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I’m a media strategy intern working for Sightly this summer. The company is based in NYC, however, there isn’t a central office anymore, so I work remotely. I’ve been working 35 hours a week, fully remote, with a good mix of Google Meet video calls in between. Every Thursday morning, the strategy team has a weekly check-in, which is always fun. Fridays at Sightly are called “Summer Fridays” which means we have no meetings, and everyone finishes up their work for the day at noon.

What does the structure of your internship look like?

I assist in the development of media plans for various clients, including research and analysis of target audiences, competitive landscape, media opportunities and delivery. I also help develop client-facing reports, including campaign performance updates, competitive analysis, and insights on industry trends. I utilize Sightly’s own Brand Mentality® tool which involves leveraging AI to aid the creation of RFPs (research for proposals).

My favorite tasks have been the random, out-of-the-blue ones. Sometimes, I’ll hear my Slack notification sound go off and see a new message from Nell, (shout out to Nell, my work bestie). She always has a fun project or task up her sleeve to challenge me. A few weeks back, we were working on a pitch for a campaign with Chicken of the Sea, and I was given the job of scraping the bottom of the TikTok barrel to make a list of tinned fish creators (did you know that was a popular niche? I didn’t!). Well, weeks later, my For You page still has tinned fish content popping up.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Selfie in front of the Bean in Chicago
Henderson attended the Grady Chicago Field Study and Internship Program while working remotely for Sightly. (Photo: Submitted)

Honestly, not much has gotten in my way this summer. I’ve fallen in love with the people at Sightly through my internship, the city of Chicago, and all the memories I’ve gotten from journeying around Chicago and its many neighborhoods. The biggest challenge has definitely been being away from my Athens friends for such a long time! Patrick, Emma, Jacob, Shirley, Logan, (Nimra, even though you’re in Seattle now), and of course my Mom & the amazing Marty—miss you all so much!

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far? Tell us a story if you have one!

I said it before, and I’ll say it again–the people. The strategy team has been the most welcoming crew I’ve ever experienced in a professional environment. Rachael, my rockstar boss; Jordan, my fellow J.I.D. stan, recent house-egging victim and newly promoted Director of Strategy; and Nell, my work bestie, have all been a massive support. I hope that wherever I end up post-grad, I’ll find myself in an environment with people that are just as cool, kind, communicative, helpful, funny and as awesome as they are. I knew it’d be an amazing fit when interviewing all the way back in May. Every interaction felt like a genuine, enjoyable conversation, rather than an interview. As Nell once said—the strategy team is “all about vibes” when it comes to the chemistry and success intertwined between us, and the vibes have been immaculate.

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?

My Grady professors always encourage me to take risks, seize opportunities, and never be afraid to put myself out there. When it comes to working at Sightly, I’m never shy to raise my hand, ask about how something works, or find out about what a different team gets up to on a daily basis.

What’s your advice to other students looking for a similar opportunity?

Honestly? If you’re in Grady, you’re likely a more creative-minded person. You shouldn’t think your resume has to be limited to part-time jobs and internships. Think outside of the box. You want to have something that stands out when you present yourself to employers–especially with how daunting the interview process is nowadays. Challenge yourself before you leap into the ‘real’ world. You have to sell these employers on you. Ask yourself—what makes me stand out?

How will this role guide your future career path?

I’ve been able to learn about the intricacies of ad campaigns, audience insights, and how to leverage trends and catch them before they hit markets. I’m getting an inside look into the business of content creation and social media versus simply being one of the consumers within. Now, I’m able to understand the vast world from an insider’s perspective. This will help me leverage its power as I venture onwards on my professional journey and attempt to carve out my voice and my platform to bigger audiences down the line.

What’s your career goal?
Selfie at a baseball game
Henderson attended a White Sox game while living in Chicago for the summer (Photo: Submitted)

I’m a creative at heart, and as much as I’ve loved delving into the strategy side of media this summer, my dream role lies in being a respected writer and content creator at the top of a major platform. That might mean working for an organization I respect such as The Athletic, Pitchfork, or The Ringer where I’d be making content filled to the brim with nostalgia, passion, wit and edge (P.S., check out my Substack I want to be a voice that both entertains and informs and become one of the most well-renowned and respected figures in media, in whatever path the future ahead brings me down. Scratch that—I don’t just “want” to be that, I will be. Just give me a few years, alright? 😉

What lessons will you take back with you to the classroom in the fall?

For one, I’ll be telling everyone that gives me the time of day that if you haven’t tried a Chicago-style hot dog, you’re missing out. If only everyone could learn about the joys of a poppy seed bun, sport peppers, diced onions, relish, mustard, tomatoes and a dill pickle spear.

Thinking more about school—I’d say that I need to keep my head down, keep churning out work, and utilize as much of the time I have left in undergraduate to make my portfolio look as good as possible. I want to network as much as I can with people at companies or in cities I want to end up in and not fret too much about school itself. The latter part of that may sound extreme, but living in a big city and working in a professional environment helped me realize that I got myself to this place. A reminder to any student out there reading this—you control your future. A degree doesn’t guarantee you security over anything. Make the most of your time in college, or you’ll be left wondering where it all went.

How has this role helped you discover what you are passionate about?

N/A, to be honest. It’s been a fantastic experience but I’ve known my passions, goals, and dreams for years. It’s been super interesting to be entrenched in the world of media through an organization, working with others, as opposed to working as a creative, in a more self-started space.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Buckle up kid, you’re gonna buzz and bleach your hair after you turn 22 and have the best summer of your life. Don’t change a thing about yourself, and tell Dad to bet a load of money on Leicester City to win the Premier League in 2016.

On a more relevant note, though, I’d be telling young Ethan to never be afraid of failure. The worst thing you can do with an idea, a dream, etc, is to NOT act on it. The more you try, the more you can reflect, learn, and grow.

[Responses have been edited for clarity and conciseness.]