You prepare yourself for the professional path you want to take in life, but you never know where your career might take you. Just ask Kelly Smith Beaty, a 30-year-old public relations rep and former Black Enterprise intern who will appear on the newest season of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice.
Beaty, who was born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Spelman College and a master’s degree in public communication from American University. She’s dreamed big since she was a little girl, and her knack for spotting opportunities and capitalizing on them has served her well throughout her career.
In the first of a three-part interview, Beaty updates Black Enterprise on what she’s been doing since her summer internship. The Apprentice premieres this Thursday, Sept. 16, at 9:00 p.m. EST on the NBC network.
When did you intern at Black Enterprise?
I was part of the Black Enterprise summer 2005 intern class, of which the current small business editor, Tennille Robinson, was also a member.
What led you to New York and Black Enterprise?
I grew up in a “Black Enterprise household.” The magazine has been coming to my parents’ home for as long as I can remember.Â My mother, who is a corporate banking executive, always looked forward to receiving her issue and would read it, cover to cover, every month.Â We’d often talk about the interesting people she’d read about, or business strategies she thought were particularly useful.Â Finding articles on my bed, which she’d flagged for me, was a common occurrence in my house.
In 2005, I was a full-time graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C. I was studying for a career in public relations, which I’d already decided I wanted to begin in New York. One day, while looking through the Black Enterprise website, I found the posting for an internship and my heart literally stopped.Â I knew I HAD to get into the program as the brand had been nothing short of iconic for me my entire life.Â The day I saw the posting was actually the application deadline so I scurried to put together the most impressive submission I could muster up in those few, short hours.
I remember getting the application completed at the last nano-second and pressing “send” while my heart raced at what felt like a million beats a minute.Â I persistently (and probably annoyingly) followed up with Natalie Hibbert, the HR director, all the way through the interview and acceptance process.
I remember many members of the Black Enterprise staff saying, “Oh, you’re Kelly,” when I arrived on my first day.Â Apparently, all my follow-up calls and e-mails made quite an impression. In retrospect it was probably a bit much, but I WANTED that internship. To this day, amid an impressive resume of work experiences and employers, my internship with Black Enterprise remains one of my proudest accomplishments.
What did you learn here?
Black Enterprise taught me that there are no short cuts to excellence.Â [Black Enterprise founder, chairman and publisher Earl G. Graves Sr.] set the bar extraordinarily high for his employees, and we as interns were expected to meet that standard from day one.Â Of all the places I’ve worked, from New York to Tanzania, I have yet to encounter any organization with a stricter dress code.Â Mr. Graves believes that his team must be the best in everything they do, even down to how sharply they dress.Â That lesson remained with me–we’ve always got to be better.
As an intern, I worked in the Corporate Communications office, under the media director, Andrew Wadium.Â I cannot tell you how many press releases I wrote that Andrew completely red-lined.Â It seemed as though his favorite thing to say to me was, “Nope. Go back and write it again.”Â On many days, I thought Andrew was out of his mind but inevitably I’d return to my desk to make my edits. By the end of my internship, Andrew would hardly make any changes to my work and I quietly beamed inside. I’d finally met the bar! Near the very end of my time with BE, Andrew allowed me to accompany Alfred Edmond Jr. [then Sr. VP/editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine and now Sr. VP/editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise Interactive] on an interview with ABC News regarding the passing of Ebony magazine founder John H. Johnson–ALONE! I knew I’d won Andrew’s confidence and respect that day.Â I’m very proud to say that Andrew and I have become great friends since then, and sometimes, though not often, he even comes to ME for media pitching advice!
Tomorrow: Kelly talks about life after Black Enterprise.