Inside OPR

Staff spotlight – Carlee Smith

Have you met our newest full-time employee? We hesitate to call her “new” because she interned with us twice before joining as an account assistant! Carlee Smith is a recent graduate of Arkansas State University, and a shiny new Memphian. She supports our team on a number of accounts, providing tactical support to our senior leads. I think everyone would agree, we’re lucky to have her! To help you learn more about her, we asked her a few questions!


Are you excited about becoming a Tennessean?

This is the first time I realized that I’ll no longer be able to call myself an Arkansan so that’s a little addling, but I’m so excited for this new chapter of my life! Memphis has always been a part of what I considered home. When you live in a small town that no one seems to know, it’s often easier to have a big city to claim ownership of instead. Right now is such a great time to be in Memphis, and I’m excited to be a part of the growth I’ve been witnessing.


What have you most enjoyed about Memphis?

What I’ve enjoyed most about Memphis is that there’s always something going on. You never run out of things to do or places to explore. I’ve also grown to love the people. People from Memphis love Memphis and love to talk about all things related to the Bluff City. They’re quick to give directions or recommendations and are genuinely proud to be Memphians. That passion is a quality I find so admirable.


What has surprised you about transitioning into a full-time role?

I like to think I’m an organized individual. While it’s something I pride myself in, it’s also something I’ve had to adjust as I’ve transitioned to full-time. I’ve realized that having a set schedule with everything planned out isn’t always going to work in the world of public relations. An afternoon you planned on devoting to writing a blog post can turn into an afternoon of meetings or phone calls depending on the day. I think what’s surprised me the most is that I’ve learned to love and thrive in that state of organized chaos.

I’ve changed my mindset from being task-minded to client-minded. As an intern at Obsidian, you’re exposed to each account and receive assignments from all of them. A part of my love for organization includes a love for to-do lists and marking tasks off of them, which is great when you’re task-minded. However, as a full-time employee, my assignments are bigger, and I spend longer on one account just to mark an assignment as complete. I realized that while I was marking things off of my to-do list, I wasn’t being as productive as I could. Now, instead of spending an afternoon working on one assignment for a client, I try to break it up into multiple afternoons. This allows me to start on and potentially finish other assignments for different clients in the time it would have taken me to complete just one. Becoming client-minded has been a major key to my transition into my new role.


What are you most looking forward to in your first year post-grad?

I’m excited to continue exploring Memphis! Even though I grew up in the Greater Memphis Area, once I started working at Obsidian, I realized that there are so many places in Memphis that I haven’t been to. I even started keeping a list of all the restaurants I want to try that coworkers frequent (so if you have any suggestions, let me know). I’m also excited to further grow into my role at Obsidian. It’s been such an amazing ride so far and I know that will only continue.

Other than that, I’m excited about no more homework! Just kidding (only slightly).


What kinds of clients do you enjoy working with?

While I can’t say I’ve developed a distinct niche yet, I consider myself lucky to be on such a wide variety of accounts! My current roster includes clients in the nonprofit, education, legal, arts and entertainment, professional services and hospitality industries. Each day is different and that’s what I enjoy most. My favorite accounts are the ones that allow me to be the most creative, whether that’s authoring a blog post or reviewing a website pre-launch or creating a flyer for an upcoming event.


What do you feel you add to our team?

Working at Obsidian is a great experience because I’m surrounded by wonderful women who are all so different, but mesh so well together. Growing up playing every sport under the sun, I thrive in any situation that allows for teamwork and collaboration. On OPR’s team, I like to think I add a fresh perspective and new ideas to accounts and assignments, a level-headed approach to pressing tasks and the chaos that is our job at times and a desire to continue learning, improving and perfecting my craft. I’m also the youngest member on the team so I try to inspire everyone with my youthfulness. Please note I’m completely kidding.


Favorite OPR memory thus far?

Honestly, there are so many that it’s hard to choose just one! I think my favorite memory from my level 2 internship would have to be Interns’ Day Out. Jenna and I were able to take the day and explore Memphis. We went to different coffee shops and restaurants, hunted for murals and discovered wonderful stores along the way. We took pictures and recorded the whole experience. You can check it out here if you want. It was a really fun day!


Any advice to share with rising college seniors enjoying their last summer of freedom?

Take it all in! This is the last time you’ll be able to say you’re a student (unless you go to graduate school, of course). Be sure to take advantage of any opportunity thrown your way. The summer before my senior year, I had my first internship here at Obsidian which was a wonderful experience that taught me so much about the world of PR and how it functions on a daily basis. I also took a trip abroad with my university, participated in a leadership role on campus and worked a part time job on the side. While it was hectic, I look back and realize that time in my life taught me so much about myself and started me on a journey towards self-growth.

While your senior year is a wonderful time, it’s also an incredibly stressful time. It’s so important to realize that it’s OK to not have everything figured out. This season is full of endings and goodbyes, but a season full of new beginnings and adventure is looming right around the corner. Celebrate the unknown and uneasiness and cherish the memories you’ve made and will continue to make. The next chapter is even more exciting!