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Want a dream job? Internship experience may get you there

By Jeff Chesnut
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lonna Kliment   University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics

Lonna Kliment
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics (Photo courtesy of Huskers.com)

Lonna Kliment is the director of ticket marketing for University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics. She has been working with the university for three years and has been in the marketing business for more than eight years.

Kliment, a Nebraska native, says it’s her dream job.

But she tells students they should go out of state to broaden their experience if they want to ultimately land a dream job like hers.

“Even if it’s only for one year,” Kliment said in an interview, “find a way to venture out and bring ideas back to Nebraska.”

Kliment, a UNL graduate,  got her first experience with marketing and editing for the Lincoln Stars, a minor league hockey team.

After graduation, she took a job as an account executive for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately for Kliment, the NFL lockout occurred after a disagreement between the National Football League and its referees. NFL games were suspended, so there was no need for Kliment in the organization and she was let go.

Although it may not have ended the way she wanted, Kliment was able to learn new marketing strategies that she would not have learned by staying in Nebraska. After leaving Arizona, she returned to Nebraska where she applied for a job posted by UNL athletics. Kliment got the job and has never looked back.

A typical day for Kliment is trying to come up with ideas to promote ticket sales for Husker sports. The main sports she works with are baseball and volleyball. To reach audiences, she uses social media, the Lincoln Journal Star and the Huskers online website.

All these posts must go through the approval editing process before she can send them out. The editing process is quite complex at the university.

“The post must first go through the marketing department, then the sports information director for that sport, then the senior associate AD that’s in charge for that sport, then the final person that gets to see it is Chris Anderson who is in charge of all communications for the athletic department,” Kliment said. Anderson is the final proofreader and has the final say before sending  posts off.

Once the post is approved, she has interns start working on the script to send out. Some promotional ticket campaigns can last anywhere from four to six weeks. It’s a never-ending process as Husker sports are ongoing throughout the year.

“Just when you think it will slow down once football and volleyball are over,” Kliment said, “you’re hit with basketball and baseball season.”

Social media has become one of the most important mediums in Husker sports as well with any other sporting business. The Husker’s athletic account alone has more than 150,000 followers. Each sport has its own Twitter account as well. Each sport’s Twitter account is often retweeted by the official Husker account to give that sport more followers and fans.

Kliment says social media “is one of the biggest ways we communicate with our followers and fans.” Nebraska has even devoted a room in the stadium to social media. Kliment calls it the “Corn Crib,” which is a social media hub, that’s full of TVs where people monitor everything that people say about Husker sports.

“Social media will continue to grow with sports and media,” Kliment said.  “It’s going to be vital to have proper organization to reach your maximum audience potential.”  

Without proper editing, promotions could fail very easily. Because fewer people are reading print newspapers, a lot of advertisements now run online. If  someone notices a mistake, it can easily be corrected. She often finds mistakes in promotions created by interns either in logos or words.

Even though the process is long and tedious, the mistakes are always caught since there are so many approval layers.  Typically a promotion takes three days to get approved before Kliment can post it.

Research is also one of the most important aspects of advertisements. To be on the cutting edge of social media, she said,  you must research what’s working and what’s not working throughout the country.

Schools watch other schools and find out why they’re being more successful than others.  Nebraska is one of the smallest schools in the Big Ten, so the marketing department is not as big as others. For the marketing department at Nebraska to compete with other schools, it must find alternative ways to attract audiences to the university. This can be difficult at times with a university like Nebraska that values old school traditions.

Kliments admits mistakes happen but says they can be a learning experience. Even professionals like Kliment make mistakes.

“I ordered 8,000 black T-shirts and I was going to black out the Bob Devany Sports Center for the volleyball game,” Kliment said. “The T-shirts were ordered and going to get printed and I didn’t ask enough people for approval and it got shut down. So I had to return 8,000 black T-shirts.”

You have to learn from your mistakes. And experience helps you do that.

The advice Kliment gives to students who want her job is simple:

“Intern, Intern, Intern.”

The more experience you have on your resume the better, she said. Experience is something that can’t be taught.

“It’s important to intern wherever you can,” she says, “because there are people who may have their master’s degrees ,but it’s going to be the experience you have that separates you from other people.”

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