Alumna Cally Smith shows that hard work and a goal-getter attitude pay off

Cally Smith, Class of '11

By: Dominic Catacora

Cally Smith’s goal-getter attitude was evident even during her days as a student. “I was super eager to graduate and get my ‘real life’ started,” she said.

Smith, a School of Communication alumna who graduated in 2011 with a communication degree with a concentration in public relations, ended up landing a job with the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2012.

Her first job title was networking events manager. She worked on organizing and sponsoring different events for clients. Anything from small breakfast meetings to much larger networking events.

In only a few years, however, Smith has risen to vice president of membership and brand strategy.           

“I certainly feel like my degree was a good prep for the various roles I have filled during my time at the Chamber,” Smith said.

As vice president of membership and brand strategy, Smith manages a team of four. Her team is responsible for working with many different clients in Roanoke and around the region.

“Our organization has approximately 1,000 members,” Smith said.

Radford University has left an impact on Smith. One thing that sticks with her the most is words of advice she learned from one of her classes, “Everything Communicates”.

“I can’t remember who said it to me first either, maybe Dr. French? She was my advisor… Anyway, I hear that in my head probably 10 times a day and it applies to basically everything,” Smith said.

Smith is very passionate about her work and offered some advice to School of Communication graduates who are about to enter the workforce.

“Do what you say you are going to do. So few people have the initiative to just execute. Just follow through. Don’t take shortcuts,” she said.

“If there is a typo on your résumé or cover letter, our CEO throws it in the garbage immediately, without a second glance,” she continued. “That’s what you’re up against, and there are 90+ other qualified résumés underneath yours, without typos.”

Sharing an anecdote, Smith said, “I have this quote next to my computer at the office that says, ‘Every excuse you have for failure makes me stronger. Each day I am determined to beat you and win. I am your competition’…I know that might be a little intense for some people, but it’s so true.”

Smith wants future School of Communication graduates to investigate what they want to do in life and to make sure they enjoy what they do.

 “Be curious about jobs, ask people to lunch and to coffee and job shadow and do more than what’s required of you concerning internships and due diligence. It’s very easy to get stuck in a job you hate because you need a paycheck,” Smith stressed. 

Feb 17, 2017
School of Communication