From September 2021 to April 2022, a cohort of eight juniors and seniors from four local high schools participated in an immersive internship program with Talking Dog, Grady College’s in-house, full-service, student-led public relations and advertising agency.
Each intern was placed on a team consisting of six to eight Grady Talking Dog students assigned to a national or local client. The interns were also individually paired with a Grady student mentor who helped guide them throughout the process.
“Talking Dog gives students an inside look into what working in an agency is like,” said Valentina Drake, the interns relations director at Talking Dog.
In addition to being on client teams, each intern was also assigned to one of Talking Dog’s departments, which include copywriting, art, public relations, digital media, production and research and strategy.
Throughout the seven-month program, interns grew their skill sets and had the opportunity to network at regular department meetings, agency-wide meetings, client meetings and intern-only meetings, which often included lectures from guest speakers.
“Being an intern showed me that I am capable of having a career in advertising and public relations, which I never would have thought possible before,” said Sydney Elrod, a productions intern from Athens Academy.
“I worked with real-world clients to create advertisements that made an impact on the client and their target market and audience, so it was very fun to see the ideas the team and I made come to life,” added Sophia Beasley, a copywriting intern from Oconee County High School.
While designed to introduce students to life working for an AdPR agency, The internship is not only for those set on pursuing such careers. It provides valuable professional development and networking opportunities that are applicable to students no matter the path they choose.
“Even if I do not pursue a career in public relations or advertising, I will be more comfortable with any workplace I go into in the future and more familiar with how that experience will look and feel,” said Erin Wyatt, a public relations intern from Clarke Central High School.
Yerahm Hong, a research and strategy intern from North Oconee High School, added: “As the year progressed, I was able to make very good friendships and long-lasting connections. It really felt like a family! It was also very inspiring to be working alongside such high-achieving individuals.”
Echoing the interns’ overall sentiment, Kathryn Nichols, an art intern from Athens Academy, said: “I am so grateful for this experience, and it will be incredibly beneficial for my future endeavors.”
Now three years old, the Talking Dog internship has grown significantly since its start in 2019. At that point, the program had a total of two interns from one local high school, Athens Academy, dedicated to two client teams.
In 2020, despite having to go virtual due to the pandemic, the program grew to include a total of seven students and welcomed two new high schools, North Oconee High School and Oconee County High School. This year’s program, which was open to students from five local high schools, was the biggest yet, and it will only continue to grow.
“Our goal is to continue our outreach and increase participation from these schools to provide invaluable experiences for students interested in advertising and public relations,” said Missy Hill, program manager for Grady’s AdPR Department. “Working with local area high school administrators to collaborate on community outreach and experiential learning opportunities has been invaluable. The support from them has been overwhelming.”
“This is an outreach program that we are really proud of,” added Bryan Reber, head of the AdPR Department. “I’m really grateful to Missy Hill for initiating this three years ago and to the Talking Dog student intern directors who do such a great job integrating the high school students into the Talking Dog Agency.”
The high school administrators Hill has worked with to make the program happen include the late Jean Bennett, a former school counselor at Oconee County High School, Christy Conley, a school counselor at North Oconee High School, Wesley Mellina, the workforce development coordinator for the Clarke County School District, and Brian Olsen, the dean of student life at Athens Academy.
“We loved the experience that our students had access to over the past few years and are looking forward to participating in the years to come,” said Conley.
“We are pleased to help recruit CCSD students from programs that connect with this opportunity, including our students studying marketing, A/V film technology, journalism and graphic design,” added Mellina.
Additional interns not quoted above include Andrew Cash, a public relations intern from Oconee County High School, Alexandra Navas, an art intern from Clarke Central High School, and Kyla Scott, a digital media intern from North Oconee High School.