SDSU student heads to Nashville for dream internship

Hannah Baker

An SDSU country music enthusiast will be interning with CMT next semester.

When Katie Rusch saw she had a missed call on her cell phone from an unknown number on Nov. 28, her heart jumped.

Rusch, a senior journalism major from Hutchinson, Minn., did a phone interview with CMT radio about a week prior and was awaiting a phone call that would determine the next few months of her life — and possibly set her on a course toward her dream career.

“I thought, ‘could it be?’ So I called the number back and it was CMT,” said Rusch. “My heart was pounding, and I just wanted to hear ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

To Rusch’s delight, the woman on the phone had called to give her the news she desperately hoped for: she got the job.

“I was so excited,” she said. “It took so much of me not to scream on the phone because I was so happy. Getting that phone call was the biggest relief. I was like, ‘I nailed it.’”

Rusch has always held hopes of leaving her small, 14,000-person hometown to head to Nashville, Tennessee. She is starting at CMT in January and will work in the Radio Networks Department. There, she will help with the syndicated radio shows which air one to five times a week.

As part of the internship, she will also have the opportunity to interview famous country music artists who she has been listening to since she was a little girl.

“Hands down, my favorite artist is Keith Urban, so I’m hoping I can help with an interview with him or meet him in one way, shape or form,” she said. “When it comes to country I love everything, though, so being a part of anything is going to be fun.”

Even to this day, whether it’s in the car or completing a classroom assignment, her life is filled with a country beat.

“I’m not surprised to hear Katie received the internship at CMT radio because of her quality design work and outstanding performance as a student,” said Journalism Professor Jessica Jensen, who has had Rusch as a student. “She always worked hard in my courses and had a very positive attitude as a student.”

Rusch had an internship last summer with Brookings Radio, which she said helped prepare her for this next adventure. Although CMT is a much larger organization and will be a big change for the soon-to-be 22-year-old, Rusch is ready for the challenge.

“Although it’ll be so different, people call Nashville a ‘little-big city,’ and my boss at the radio station (in Brookings) said he knows people from there and said I’d fit right in,” she said.

Travis Reeves, general manager at Brookings Radio, said he interviewed 11 applicants for the radio’s internship, and Rusch stood out above the rest not only for her technical skills, but also her sincere and driven personality.

“We could not have hired a better person,” Reeves said. “Her temperament just fit inside the radio station. She is a good coworker and has a real love for country music. She is going to bring a new perspective and appreciation for the music, and she’ll do a great job at CMT.”

The internship will end in either April or May, but Rusch hopes maybe with the end of the internship a new door will open into a permanent job.

“You go into it thinking ‘hopefully this turns into more,’ but if not, this is the biggest thing I could hope for now to put on my résumé for another future career,” she said.

She said her mother has some worries about her being in Music City, USA, but Rusch is counting down the days until she loads up her large truck and hits the road for the 15-hour drive to Nashville.

“I’m going to miss my friends and family,” she said, “but I know I have to do this, and I couldn’t be more excited.”