Grady InternViews: Valentina Drake

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities. Walk me through a typical day.

I’m currently working at Georgia Power Company as a social media intern. Our headquarters are in Atlanta, G.A. but I’m currently working remote. My internship responsibilities include strategizing social media posts for two out of the six content pillars, taking ownership of the value channel calendar, working with the brand strategy team, brainstorming new campaign concepts and executing my ideas. Everyday looks different depending on where we are in our calendar. Right now, we are in Q3, so we are really trying to drive up our J.D. Power score. J.D. Power rates utility companies based on key messages like reliability, billing, rates, customer service and more. My typical day includes waking up, checking emails and prioritizing my tasks for the day. I can do anything from working in our social media calendar deck to updating our vegetation management creative brief to analyzing a media flowchart and inputting that information into our value channel calendar. I also love to sit in on meetings that don’t necessarily pertain to my job but clarify the brand on a holistic level. For example, I’ll be a fly on the wall during our economic development meetings, media relations or email strategy. I learn a lot from just listening and taking it all in. 

How is it structured? Is it remote or in-person and what has that been like?
A view of buildings
Drake’s view from her office. (Photo: submitted)

There are four social media interns, including myself. We report to either the brand strategist or the digital media manager. I absolutely love my higher ups, and they are both Grady alumni! Since I also work with the brand strategy team, I have weekly one-on-one’s with the brand strategy manager. I am in the corporate communications department where there are several different teams like media relations, internal communication, public relations, brand strategy and more. If we were in person, we’d be on the top floor with an amazing view. The different areas may technically be separate, but we all work together to make Georgia Power the best brand it can be. My job can be fully done remote and I don’t mind working in my pajamas. That being said, I’ve gone in-person twice and can’t wait to be back. I have met all these people through Teams, I want to meet them in-person and get to know them a bit better. We are thinking that it’ll be a hybrid remote / in-person situation once the pandemic is over. 

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?

My biggest growth is my creativity. I brainstorm new ideas every day and this role has really pushed me in terms of how I think. My company posts almost every day, that’s a lot of content! It takes time, effort and new ideas to keep the stories engaging and fun for our customers. Sometimes topics like energy efficiency and rebates can be boring, but we try and figure out how to make it interesting. Once you have the idea and it’s been approved, you must execute. In creative fields, there can be a lot of talk, but you must act on the idea or else nothing is going to happen. That’s my other area of growth, execution. I’ve seen many of my ideas come to fruition because I pushed and advocated for them to come alive. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your ideas and make it happen!

What is the most memorable experience you have had during your internship? Tell us a story if you have one!
Drake and the other interns standing in front of a lake in white t-shirts under blue sunny skies
Drake and the other Georgia Power interns at Lake Oconee. (Photo: submitted)

My most memorable experience during my internship must be when I got to be in a Georgia Power commercial. All the social media interns as well as some line workers from the citizens chapter drove to Lake Oconee for a commercial shoot. We staged a volunteer lake clean up event for our sustainability commercial. My role included carrying the soil, planting a tree, picking up trash, etc. I haven’t seen the commercial yet, so hopefully they got a good close up of me (just kidding). It was incredibly cool to see the level of production that goes into shooting a commercial. Our clip is probably five seconds long, and it took two hours to film. How crazy! 

How do you feel that Grady has prepared you for tackling the job?

Grady has given me the tools to succeed in this role. From being a leader in PRSSA, to networking at meetings, to working with clients in Talking Dog, Grady has given me everything to be successful. I wouldn’t have this job without Grady. I met my current manager at a PRSSA meeting during my junior year of college. I added them on LinkedIn and followed up when I saw a job posting. My biggest advocate was my PRSSA advisor and campaigns professor, Kim Landrum. She really believed in me and put in a good word to the hiring manager. I am forever thankful to Kim and everyone at Grady for helping me get to where I am today. 

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role?

My biggest advice is to network, network, network! Your professors, speakers at your clubs, and faculty members are very connected in the industry. Don’t be shy and reach out. you’ll be surprised how many people want to help aspiring young professionals. You just have to go for it, you’ll never know what will happen unless you do.

Grady InternViews: Megan Mittelhammer

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

A graphic explaining Mittelhammer is a journalism major working as a communications intern at the Georgia Governor's Office in Atlanta, GAA typical day will always start with coffee! I drive to the Capitol, where I compile news clips to send out to the office. We have a morning meeting and discuss what everyone is working on and what’s on tap for that week. I mostly work on proclamations and commendations (when the governor wants to proclaim a certain day or month, or recognize an individual for their contributions to the state). I also update the website, draft social media posts and work on press releases. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to draft remarks and video scripts for the governor, which is exciting. I’m lucky that I have another intern in the communications office who’s a UGA student. We have a ton of mutual connections, so we’ve become great friends.

How is it structured? Is it remote or in-person and what has that been like?

I’m fortunate to have found an in-person internship, and despite having to wake up early this summer, I’ve loved getting to be in the office and meet new people or just hang out at someone’s desk and chat. You can’t really do that over Zoom.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

I think writing remarks is the biggest challenge so far because I’m still learning the governor’s voice and how to write from his point of view. 

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?
Mittelhammer in an orange shirt outside the capitol
Megan works in-person every day at the Gold Dome in downtown Atlanta. (Photo: submitted)

I feel like my confidence in my abilities has grown, especially over the past year. When I was offered the internship, that boosted my confidence tremendously. Most of my experience has come from writing for The Red & Black, but getting to put skills from my Public Affairs Communications classes into action has been rewarding.  

How do you feel that Grady has prepared you for tackling the job?

My classes and professors at Grady have done a great job preparing me for this internship. In my PAC class, we practice writing a variety of releases, briefs, etc. — a lot of things that I’m working on right now! And when I have to fact check information or craft social posts, I know I’m using skills from my journalism classes.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

It’s all about connections! I knew some friends who did this same internship and encouraged me to apply, and my mentor was a huge help in so many aspects of the internship search process and acted as a knowledgeable resource. For new Grady students, start out networking among your cohort and professors, and definitely get involved with the UGA Mentor Program. Your list of connections will only grow from there.

If you’re thinking about any combination of writing and politics, definitely connect with a PAC student and apply to the PAC program!

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

The lessons I’ll take with me are to trust in my abilities as a writer and communicator, and to not be afraid to try new things. I take the initiative to ask for certain projects that I’ve never really done before, and it has paid off. I like serving and informing Georgians through this internship, and I’ll keep that in mind when I begin Newsource in the fall. I’ve been given a lot of responsibility and opportunities that I know are preparing me for my classes in the fall as well as life after college.

Grady InternViews: Alise Crittendon

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

As a Copywriter intern at FCB (Foote, Cone & Belding) Chicago, I am responsible for bringing campaign ideas to life with strong, quick and concise messaging. I am on the Walmart account at my agency, specifically under their Sustainability sector, where I pitch ideas for marketing Walmart’s efforts to preserve our planet. I make presentations, write content such as taglines and TV scripts, and develop campaigns for Walmart and other brands like Allstate, Cottonelle and more. Each day is different, but one thing is consistent: meetings, meetings, meetings! It’s completely remote, but I find ways to get variety in my day by working at my local library or coffee shops.

Explain the MAIP program in your own words and your involvement in it.

MAIP is the 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program where diverse talent is connected with agencies all over the country in 15+ disciplines. It includes professional development training, summer campaign projects and a full-time internship at top agencies in the advertising industry. In my experience so far, I’ve met so many amazing peers with similar interests and passions, gotten hands-on creative experience and have had access to a supportive family-like community. 

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?

The biggest growth I’ve experienced this summer is confidence. From coming up with original ideas to pitching them in front of high-level executives, this has been a major transition for me, and has allowed me to discover what my strengths and weaknesses are and how to capitalize off those. I feel 10x more prepared to go into the industry after my experience with MAIP and FCB Chicago. 

How do you feel that Grady has prepared you for tackling the job?
Crittendon says she's staying busy with remote meetings this summer. (Photo: submitted)
Crittendon says she’s staying busy with remote meetings this summer. (Photo: submitted)

My experience in Grady has prepared me for my role immensely, specifically my involvement in Women in Media at UGA and my Brand Storytelling class I took with Dr. Strausbaugh. A lot of the lessons I learned through these two experiences has helped me form accurate expectations for my job and allowed me to navigate difficult situations.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role?

Going into a creative role (or any role) can involve major imposter syndrome. It helps me to remember that I’m only an intern, not an expert, so everything I do is an opportunity for a learning experience. Also, reaching out to people for help is a major key! It helps you gain more understanding and allows you to network and build relationships with your fellow interns, managers, and other co-workers.

Grady InternViews: Chandler Rebel

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

The company I am working for is the Institute for Energy Research, my title is Communications Intern and I am working in Washington D.C. It is your typical 9-5. I metro in with some coffee and immediately get to work on writing press releases and opinion-editorials (Op-Eds). In addition to this, I assist in the development of the company’s website as well as assist in research. I also closely monitor our blog and Twitter for trending hashtags and subjects to tweet about. I participate in calls with major contributors to the organization and assist with their podcasts releasing’s. In an environment such as this, I am always jumping task to task, writing for publishers, researching for material and keeping a streamline communications department on track.

How is your internship affecting the ideas you have about your future? 

It is more than confirming my future aspirations. Being able to work in a journalistic capacity covering a political issue is very rewarding and I like to think I am already making a difference.

What has been your favorite part about living and working in DC?

My favorite part about living and working in DC would have to be the friends I have had the chance of making along the way. And also an occasional Washington Nationals game.

When you look back on your internship 10 years from now, what part of your summer internship do you think you’ll remember most?

I think I will remember my fantastic organization taking a chance on me and pouring so much knowledge into my work ethic.

What is the most valuable lesson or skill you have learned during your internship?

Always edit, and after you edit, edit again and again. 

How do you feel that the Public Affairs Professional certificate in Public Affairs Communications has prepared you for tackling the job?

I feel that the PAC certificate has more than prepared me. I have a long way to go before writing flawlessly, but I have learned to do so adequately through the program. It has also contributed to being able to adapt with an ever-changing political environment

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role, and what advice would you give them if they’re considering a PAC certificate?

By all means, do it! You have to have an attitude that desires personal growth and an invaluable opportunity. These internships, along with the PAC certificate, are the perfect way to continue this growth.

What has been the most memorable experience you have had during your internship so far? 

So far, it was walking out to grab something and seeing former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sitting at the conference table.

Editor’s Note: The Public Affairs Communications Program is a certificate program within Grady College that provides students with practical training in the strategy and practice of public affairs communications focused on public policy and politics.

Grady InternViews: Morgan Gonzales

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities. 

I work for the Dallas Morning News, my title is Medicine and Science Reporting Fellow and I am working from my apartment in Athens, GA.

I am on the Business desk and report on medical and science news. I am responsible for reporting and writing my stories. A typical day includes our morning team meeting over video call, reaching out to sources, planning stories, writing and editing.

How is it structured? 

I’m working remotely. Many of my co-workers are still working remotely, so the team has been fantastic about accommodating my lack of physical presence. It’s difficult to not be able to go check out things that I’m covering in person, so I’ve made a ton of phone calls, looked at places on Google Maps and attended some live streams of events. Last week I covered a nurses strike and “attended” via Facebook live. I got help from a veteran reporter on a story about a new, more affordable insulin option, and Google Docs made it easy for us to both be in the document and talk through it together. That experience was so informative. I’m really grateful for the team on the business desk.

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?
Morgan Gonzales sits at her desk as she works remotely from Athens, GA. (Photo: submitted)

My writing and interview styles have been the most noticeable improvements to me. I think both of those require experience and time to improve, so I’m so grateful for this opportunity to hone my skills.  

How do you feel that Grady has prepared you for tackling the job?

My professors in the journalism department have done such an amazing job preparing me for this! Professor Sabriya Rice told our class about this opportunity, and because of the reporting skills I gained from her class I decided I should apply. She has been truly inspirational. I came into grad school with no experience actually reporting, so her class taught me critical skills that I’ve relied on heavily during my fellowship. My advisor, Dr. Karin Assmann, has been so supportive while I’ve been in school and during the fellowship. She always checks in on me and makes sure I am doing alright, and has been instrumental in my progress as a reporter. I am so lucky to be in this department and to have the mentors I do!

What is the most memorable experience you have had during your internship? Tell us a story if you have one!

I got to interview a gold medal winning Olympian, Laura Wilkinson, for one of my first stories! That was a highlight for sure. She was great to talk to and that story was fun to write. I’m going to Dallas to do some in-person reporting the first week of August, so meeting my coworkers and working on projects together will be the most memorable experience, I’m sure.

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

I’ll definitely be utilizing the lessons I’ve learned with my writing in the future. But also flexibility, I’ve learned stories don’t always go the direction I think they will, and my day often goes in a different direction than I anticipate. The stories that surprise me are usually the best.

The purpose of the Dallas Morning News-Grady Health, Medicine & Science Reporting Fellowship will be to train the next generation of health care journalists over the next several years. More specifically, the fellowship program will provide journalists-in-training at the University of Georgia with hands-on reporting experience in a big-city newsroom. Each summer, a Grady journalist will work with a Dallas Morning News editor and cover the business of healthcare.

Grady InternViews: Abbey Clark

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I stay up to date on news specifically to the states in the Southeast. My day begins with sending the summary I worked on the previous night of any top headline reports for the states in the Southeast. Throughout the day, I assist producers and anchors with any stories they may be working on.  We also have at minimum two daily meetings with the entire Southeast bureau team and ad hoc thereafter.  The job involves a lot of researching, writing and cold calling to get the right facts!

It is a remote internship as of now but generally is in person! Virtual has been nice because I am with my family, but I would really love the experience to work at CNN Center in Atlanta. I have been invited by leaders of the SE Bureau team to visit the office when I return to Georgia!

What has been the biggest surprise in your internship (ie: is there anything you didn’t expect?)

What surprised me the most is the amount of news that is out there and what is required to get a news story on the air.

What is the most valuable lesson or skill you have learned during your internship?

Flexibility and eagerness to learn is key in being successful in this internship and I think with most jobs overall.

What has been the most memorable experience you have had during your internship so far?

I remember my second day at CNN I was asked to help Ryan Young, a CNN Correspondent, on a summer violence surge happening throughout the country and I had to cold call police departments throughout the southeast states and watch press conferences from the departments as well. It took me about four hours and hundreds of calls to gather all the information, but I did it and I was featured as a contributor in the byline of the article. 

What do you think made you stand out while applying for the job and what qualities do you have that are helping you succeed?

I think the diversity in things I am involved in or have experience with really helped me stand out. I have a certification in digital media arts and have numerous jobs pertaining to customer service, technology, retail, film, social media and more. Diversifying yourself with lots of skills is very important to stand out to a company showing that you are a fast learner and open to opportunity with everything you do.

Information about the internship from WarnerMedia: Ted Turner is the visionary who launched CNN. Since that day, the world has never been the same. The Ted Turner Maverick Internship is designed for the next generation of “mavericks” who will shape the journalism world to come. It’s designed to offer maximum exposure to CNN, while preparing the intern to lead the way into the new era of news and storytelling. Since 2020, one Grady College student has been selected by WarnerMedia and CNN as a Maverick Intern each summer.

Grady InternViews: Grace Yeo

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

Rodgers Townsend is an advertising agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. They work with clients as big as AT&T and State Farm to smaller clients such as Smoothie King and George Foreman. As my first internship and being new to the advertising career, I am learning a lot by getting exposure to everything around the agency. I am a lead on a social media project to help improve our clients’ social media presence and help research with both client requested and proactive campaigns for Spectrum brands and State Farm. I attend lots and lots of meetings both internally for our team and with clients to discuss the campaign process and update each other with what all is happening. Even though I am interning for the account management discipline, I am having many 1:1 meetings with people of different disciplines throughout the agency to get a feel for what their role is and how their day to day may differ from mine.

The agency itself is hybrid. Those who want to come into the office can, and those who aren’t comfortable can stay at home. All meetings are held online via Microsoft Teams, so those who aren’t available in-person can still be in on the calls. I personally like being remote because I didn’t have to relocate to a city I’ve never been before. I like being in the comfort of my own home and not having to worry about navigating a new city.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is learning to soak in any and everything. There is a lot of information floating around the agency because we have so many clients. I am sitting in on the behind the scenes of many campaigns and projects with different clients. My calendar is crammed everyday with numerous meetings, and it can be difficult to manage where I am with which client. I also have a lot of things to do hands on, so sometimes it’s hard to manage my time. Balance is key, and that’s something I’m still learning how to do!

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?

I am currently on my 4th week of interning, and I can confidently say I know how my agency relates to each of its clients and how they work together. I know the roles and responsibilities of being an account manager and continuously learning the different roles of the agency. I like seeing the creative process from start to finish first hand and just being present in the “real world.”

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role?

Take the leap of faith, and honestly just do it. Talk to people. There’s so many resources out there and other people readily available to help you with any and everything. No question is stupid. The world of advertising has the best environment, and that’s what drew me in from the start. Everyone is so genuine and kind and will be there for you no matter what. They want you to succeed. They want your creative juices. I love the collaborative nature of this field and how chill and laidback it is compared to a corporate job. It’s about teamwork and not about who has more power and gets to control what. Advertising is such a fun and unique job.

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

I have learned to be a soaking sponge. There will be a lot of information thrown at you, so take it all in. Take notes and ask questions when things aren’t familiar. No creative idea is wrong or bad, so share it. Working well in a group is a key characteristic, so all these things will come back with me to class in Athens in the fall.

Grady InternViews: Abigail Childers

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I am working for the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, also referred to as the International Emmy Awards. My title is Summer Judging and Membership Intern, and I am working remotely, from my kitchen table most days. A typical day for me would include mixed responsibilities for the Judging and Membership departments of the International Emmy Awards. My work in the judging department includes reading scripts submitted by young scriptwriters all around the world who have entered their work into the International Emmy Awards’ Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting competition. My job is to read these scripts and process them as they meet various guidelines. As I continue with this internship, my work in the judging department will expand into creating ballots for the semi-final round of judging for the television categories. My work in the membership department includes keeping member information up to date, locating and suggesting new members and researching the television landscape in countries all over the world.

How is it structured? 

My internship is entirely remote, which has had both pros and cons. As a remote intern, I have some more flexibility with my workday, which is nice. However, if this internship were in person, it would be in New York City and I would much prefer that had it been possible.

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?

The biggest growth I have experienced so far is absolutely having access to such a vast amount of international content. International TV stations, production studios, news channels, contacts, languages – in just a few weeks, the International Emmy Awards have shown me that the entertainment and media markets across the world are so similar and yet incredibly unique all at once. Exposure to international content and contacts this early in my life will definitely have a positive impact on my view of the entertainment industry as a whole as I pursue my career.

What is your advice for other students looking to take on a similar role? 

My advice for students who are looking for a role like mine is to take advantage of opportunities that are right in front of you. Class projects, meeting other students in your field, making connections with teachers – those things go a long way when it comes to a job like this. If it weren’t for a friend I knew in EMST, I wouldn’t have known I wanted to apply for the major. If it weren’t for Dr. Miller’s class, where I learned how and what to research, I wouldn’t have been qualified for the job I have now. If it weren’t for my dedication to the projects I had in his class, I wouldn’t have known how passionate I truly am about industry research and experience. These opportunities just appeared in front of me, but I had to do the work to make them worthwhile. From your Grady application essay all the way to your first big break, you have to maintain your dedication as well as your belief that your hard work will pay off. 

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

When I go back to Athens, the biggest lesson I will take with me is that it is important to create opportunities for others whenever you can. It is because of the influence of so many experienced people around me that I am able to succeed in the job I have now. As I gain knowledge and experience from this internship, I look forward to passing along what I know to others to help create opportunities for them to learn and grow in their own careers. At the same time, I will return to Athens with a greater understanding of the importance of forging a path for myself in this industry. As amazing as it is to have such a great support system and so many wonderful industry connections, at the end of the day, it is up to me to maintain quality work and an impressive reputation.

Grady InternViews: Caitlin Vinson

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

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I am an intern for The Bert Show out of Atlanta. Because of COVID, I am doing my internship virtually at home. Usually, I prepare my three city news headlines (New Orleans, Nashville and Chattanooga) the day before. I will find two articles for each city and summarize them. Then, I will send that Google document to the other intern I am working with. 

The morning of the show, we will email that document to our studio director by 7 a.m. Once the show starts in the mornings at 6 a.m., the other intern and I will work together to index the entire show. This just means we are typing out what the cast on the show is saying. We have to include who is talking, what they say and add time stamps throughout the script. We index until 10 a.m. Then after the show is over, we fix any errors and email it to the studio. 

When I am not indexing or working on city headlines, I submit personal stories about what’s going on in my life every Monday. These personal stories are what helps us get on-air and practice being live.

On Thursdays, we have to submit three to five things that are trending in the world right now. We usually discuss things like beauty, fitness, and videos on TikTok or YouTube. 

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?
Vinson prepares for her day with a cup of coffee as her computer starts up. (Photo: submitted)

I think my biggest growth so far is just stepping out of my comfort zone. I never would’ve thought I would be working with a big radio show and getting to go on air. I stepped out of my comfort zone when applying for this job and I continue to step out of my comfort zone each and every day. It is really neat to see the different things I have picked up already just by working with the team for a couple of weeks. 

How do you feel that Grady has prepared you for tackling the job?

I feel like Grady was my first step into getting me out of my comfort zone. I took a leap going into this major and into this industry. Now that I am in it, I want it more than I did before. It has been a dream come true to get to see the things I can only experience here at Grady. My classes and professors have all taught me skills that I will carry with me to any future job. I have found a new appreciation for the hard work that many of these people do on shows like this and just in the industry in general. 

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

This experience has definitely been one for the books and I am so grateful I got the opportunity to do it. I will be taking my new-found confidence back with me to Athens in the fall. I was so nervous when I started this program at Grady because I thought I would have the hardest time finding my place, but this internship has helped me learn that I am right where I belong. I will be taking all of the knowledge I learned from this internship with me and use it to boost up others in this industry.