Hailing from a panhandle farming community, population 300, Kenley Kleman had big dreams when she left her hometown of Nazareth to attend Texas A&M. She had developed a strong interest in television and communications in high school and worked to pursue those callings in college, majoring in Agricultural Communications and interning in the summers with a major event planning company in College Station and Channel 10 News in Amarillo. During her senior year, Kenley took the reins on her PR dreams and steered them away from Texas, momentarily, to take advantage of a major opportunity: the internship of a lifetime with Country Music Television. Kenley talked to us about her stint in Nashville, the perks of a job with CMT, and what she learned working with a major television network.
TB&B: What spurred your interest in working for CMT? Is it something you've always wanted to do?
KK: From the time I was little, I've been fascinated by all things entertainment, show-biz and live events. I've also grown up on country music while listening to both my dad and brother sing and play guitar my entire life. What better way to combine the two than working for CMT?! It had always been a dream of mine, but I don't know if I ever truly believed it would happen. Not because I didn't think I was capable, but it almost seemed too far-fetched for a small-town girl from Texas. What would they want to do with me? Little did I know God had greater plans (like He always does) and I wound up in Nashville in January 2014!
TB&B: What was the interview process like?
KK: I actually completed my interview via Skype. Oddly enough, I think I was even more nervous than I would have been had it been in person! When I applied, I listed the five departments that I was most interested in working with and crossed my fingers and prayed that someone would call. I'll never forget the day I saw a Nashville number come up on my phone. My stomach dropped as I answered it and I think I said YES! before they even officially asked me to interview. Soon after we Skyped, I received the email I had been waiting for all along. I had gotten the internship with the consumer marketing/social media team! It's still hard to believe.
TB&B: Run us through a typical day at CMT.
KK: My work days would start at 10:00 A.M. and honestly, it was always something different, especially since I did two different internships - one with consumer marketing/social media and the other with corporate communications (press/public relations). With marketing and social media, some days I would go right into meetings going over marketing campaigns, social media strategies, and new initiatives. Then, I would get busy writing tweets and Facebook posts for my assigned content. When I first joined the press team, I was super busy helping plan and coordinate the CMT Music Awards Red Carpet. After that, my days consisted of monitoring media for mentions and writing press releases and pitches to send to media. At least once a week, a big star or up-and-coming singer would visit CMT to perform or do a taping and we would get to watch. I loved that part. We also had a lot of parties! Whether it was good ratings, a successful premiere or just the end of a good week, CMT was always ready to celebrate. As you can imagine, it was the most FUN job I've ever had!
TB&B: What were a few of your most exciting intern moments?
KK: Oh gosh - I don't even know where to begin! From the first day I walked into the CMT office to hanging out at all the hot spots around Music City, ever single minute of it was exciting. I'll never forget working the red carpet at the CMT Music Awards and getting to hang out with all the big stars back stage. It was a surreal moment for sure. When Alan Jackson walked through the door, I immediately got chills. He's been one of my all-time favorites since I was little, so that was definitely an unforgettable moment. But honestly, some of my favorite moments were making crazy memories with my roommates, who are now some of my very best friends.
TB&B: What aspect of your internship made you feel most accomplished?
KK: CMT's internship program is absolutely fantastic. Interns are valued. And that is HUGE. I learned more than I ever imagined I would and that is because I got to offer ideas and my opinions were heard and sometimes implemented! I think I felt most accomplished when I got to write my first press release and pitch and send to media to coordinate interviews. That's the moment I knew I wanted to do PR for a living!
TB&B: You had several visitors while you lived in Nashville - where did you love to take them?
KK: Yes, I was very blessed that my whole family and several close friends made it to Nashville at some point while I was there. I'm not sure if it was because I was living there, or because Nashville is just that great of a place ;) I enjoyed taking them to the classic spots like the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium. I loved giving them a tour of the CMT building and introducing them to the people I worked with too. But hands down, our favorite place was Robert's. It's one of the honkytonks on lower Broadway and they play the old stuff (like really, really old stuff) that my family loves. We practically lived there!
TB&B: What made this the dream internship?
KK: Well, it was literally something I had been dreaming about doing for a long, long time. And the fact that I actually got to write messages and design strategies that affected the success of the company was so rewarding. I also met some of my very best friends (two are in my wedding) and grew up in ways that I never would have had I not taken the leap and moved to Nashville. There are no words to express how grateful I am for the experience.
Since completing her internship, Kenley has returned to Texas to take a PR job in Dallas, refining her skills while working with clients from around the world. She hopes to one day open her own firm focusing on entertainment public relations. Best of luck to this Texas girl with big aspirations and a bright future!