Students explore the world’s top communication agencies in NYC

In a whirlwind, weeklong tour, 18 students in the Grady NYC program this May explored traditional and nontraditional ad agencies; PR firms; and media branding, interactive, consumer culture, and viral content companies in the heart of New York City.

The program was led by Kirsten Strausbaugh-Hutchinson, a senior lecturer of advertising, and included 10 on-campus classes where students studied intricacies of the industry and polished their LinkedIn profiles and resumes.

The following students shared about their experience:

•    Madeline Lefferts, an advertising senior who plans to move to Chicago or New York to start a career at an advertising agency, focusing on the digital and social realm

•    Jazmyn Matthews, a magazine journalism senior who hopes to work in New York after graduation

•    Frank Mu, a senior advertising major interested in agency work

•    Allie Vlk, a public relations sophomore seeking to work at a firm in a city like Chicago or New York

What did you enjoy most about the on-campus class portion of the program?

ML: The best part about the on-campus portion was the amount of time we had to get our resumes and LinkedIns up to par. Dr. Staughsbaugh-Hutchinson was very helpful, and it was a really efficient way to improve those two components of job/internship searching.

JM: Meeting the people that we were getting ready to spend the next three weeks with. We spent most of the time briefing and debriefing, and I like how prepared we were getting for the week in New York. I never felt unprepared during any of the agency visits.

FM: The most enjoyable part of the on-campus portion was teaming up to create a pitch, complete with sizzle reel and all, and presenting it to the class.

AV: The course was very hands-on, with targeted instructions for our objectives. It was refreshing to focus on things like professional resumes and pitches in addition to the coursework.

What was your favorite part of the agency tours/NYC trip?

ML: We had the opportunity to visit so many different advertising and PR firms, ranging from small to large. There was most likely a Georgia alum at every one, which was a really convenient way to make connections and network.

JM: Visiting the agencies definitely! Since it's my plan to eventually work in New York, I got to ask most of the people there how they accomplished it, and it was really helpful. It helped me think of what I needed to do if I wanted to get to where they've gotten. I met a lot of people that can actually help me. 

FM: My favorite part of the trip was seeing how deeply advertising permeated the city—not only how advertising was plastered on nearly every building and taxi cab, but also how the city itself seemed almost designed to serve as a civic advertisement for the rest of the world. 

AV: I loved having a greater sense of responsibility and accountability, navigating a rather unfamiliar city with a busy schedule while crossing paths with the best of the best. The variety of firms we visited gave us first-hand experience and advice from a large array of disciplines and specialties. Although I was a freshman at the time of the trip, the sense of responsibility made me get more things out of the trip than I initially imagined.  

                              Photo courtesy of Kirsten Strausbaugh-Hutchinson.

How do you think the experience helped to develop your skills for your future career?

ML: It helped me in so many ways. Not only was I able to get a feel for the fast-paced agency life in New York City, but I was able to spend time on my resume and LinkedIn; two key components at this point in my life. The amount of people I had the chance to meet at each agency allowed me to get more information about agency jobs and about New York in general.

JM: It helped me know what skills to work on, what skills to begin learning and what skills are absolutely vital to make it in the city.

FM: The up-close, in-depth looks hopefully gave me a strong sense of what's required to succeed in this fast-paced, competitive industry.

AV: It was great to not only see the greats of the industry, but to gain valuable advice from alumni coming from the same background and academic preparation as me. The trip encouraged me to reach for challenging opportunities, and to embrace every unique quality and strength I have to aid in my career. I'm so thankful that Grady has this invaluable opportunity available for everyone looking to go the extra mile—literally.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

ML: If you want to move to a big city or not, this is definitely a trip that you want to take. It's a great opportunity to learn more about life after graduation and opens you up to jobs that you might not have thought about previously. 

JM: I had the most amazing time. New York was everything that I dreamed of and more, and the trip only helped me realize that it's definitely where I want to be. As long as I use all of the tips that I was given while there, I'll get there!

FM: Everyone who visits Manhattan should have lunch at a Halal Guys food stand. It's delicious.

For more information about Grady NYC, visit

Date: August 31, 2015

Contact:  Kirsten Strausbaugh-Hutchinson,