Shelby Clayton

Written by Shelby Clayton 

Shelby Clayton, a native from Atlanta, Georgia has made her way to the Big Apple! She is a Client Account Manager at Twitter in New York City. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism with a degree in Advertising and minor in Sociology. She began her career as an intern at ESPN. She also interned at the United States Tennis Association (USTA), UGA Athletic Association and the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

Shelby has been featured in multiple media outlets. Most notably, Shelby appeared live on CNN as a Generation Y panelist with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Jim Sciutto. During her time on CNN, Shelby gave her perspective as a millennial on issues such as race relations and the Middle East crisis. Through this experience, Shelby has developed a passion to leverage sports and social issues to change the world. Shelby has also been featured in the Disney Professional Internships campaign, appearing on marketing materials for the highly renowned program.

At Twitter, she is responsible for collaborating with Fortune 500 advertisers to understand their objectives, recommend best practices, and develop effective campaigns. Previously, Shelby was a Programmatic Analyst at ESPN where she provided programmatic solutions to the Private Marketplace Digital Account Executives within the Customer Marketing and Sales Department.


I will DEFINITELY say my experience was not the easiest path for me. 

However, I have always been the ambitious type that knew what I wanted to do since I was in middle school. I grew up wanting to work in the sports business industry and I crafted my plan to ultimately hit my goal. We all know things do not always go according to plan, and I had to be okay with that reality. Part one of my plan was attending the University of Georgia where I studied advertising and sociology. In order to gain the most out of my college experience, I took advantage of every extracurricular activity there was available. I mostly became involved with sporting activities like UGA athletics and sports associated clubs. However, I also had a passion for giving back, so I also participated in many volunteer activities around campus.

My time off-campus is what helped me the most for the real world. Each summer, I took the opportunity to intern at different companies which started before I even stepped foot on campus. My internships included experiences at the United States Tennis Association, UGA Athletics, the City of Atlanta, and last but certainly not least, ESPN. It’s always the dream to apply what you have learned in class to an actual internship. I was beyond blessed to have the opportunity to apply my knowledge and of course learn various skill sets, but most of what I attribute my success in gaining these opportunities is… networking.

I cannot stress that word enough because while my degree is essential to my career, getting to know people in the industry and learn about what they do is the key to success for your career. 

During my time at UGA, I attended and coordinated industry conferences and events that brought professionals in to do exactly that…. network with students. I had a chance to meet with many professionals either on a call or out for coffee and those professionals helped mentor me throughout my collegiate years. I appreciated their guidance and support as I was trying to navigate post graduate life. I truly could not have gotten here without the many people I connected with in college.

Each one of my internship opportunities allowed me to grow my resume and experience. While many of my internships were sports related, I enjoyed interning at places that were completely out of my intended industry.

Every job opportunity has transferable skill sets that you can utilize in any position, and it was important to me to make sure I had a diverse set of experiences to show future employers that I was well-rounded. 

It took numerous volunteer opportunities and even unpaid internships that also help propel my career.

With all of the success, I would not have made it to where I am today without the lessons I learned and rejection I faced along the way. There were college groups that I was not accepted to join and even some internships that I did not receive including at one time, ESPN. As you may have read earlier, I did end up interning at ESPN in New York City, but that came after finding the confidence to try again even though I was denied the first time around. I applied and interviewed for an ESPN internship the summer before my senior year. I thought to myself, “this was the DREAM internship before graduating,” so I really wanted to end out my college years strong. However, as I said earlier, life does not always go according to plan. I did not receive an ESPN internship that summer. I was disappointed and had no idea what to do next. I ended up finding a great opportunity with the City of Atlanta to intern with their special events department. I knew it wasn’t sports, and I thought that would deter my ability to gain a sports-related job after college, but after some great advice from my dad, I took the opportunity to improve upon my skill sets and learn a ton about city government. So if you ever need to host an outdoor event in Atlanta, I can help you out.

Now moving forward to my senior year of college, I did three things: I prayed, I studied, I prepared. I prayed that God would direct my steps as I figured out my first post graduate career move. I studied to make sure I would achieve notable grades, and I prepared for every single position I applied for. I researched jobs available, companies’ mission statements, and interview guidance to help land that full time job opportunity, every college students’ goal. However, remember that phrase… life does not go according to plan? Well again, my plans changed but ended up gaining that amazing internship at ESPN in NYC. I took that opportunity as a 10-week interview and after my time there, I gained a full-time opportunity with the Worldwide Leader in Sports shortly after my internship.

Bringing it all back to where I am now, I had a great two years of experience at ESPN in their digital and programmatic department. I met an amazing group of people that I still acknowledge as family. 

I am currently at Twitter as a Client Account Manager working with Fortune 500 companies by helping marketers achieve their business objectives on the platform. I am forever thankful for my time at UGA and ESPN. I would not change a thing about my journey.

I owe much of that success to willing to get out of my comfort zone, go for what I wanted, and allow rejection to motivate me.

I mentioned above, but I will emphasize some of my key lessons below:

  • Network! Network with industry professionals, professors, and even your peers (because one day they will be in a position to possibly help you)
  • People want to help you, you just have to put yourself where they are which is at networking and conference events
  • Research job responsibilities to ensure you are interested in the role
  • Lastly, prepare, prepare, and prepare for every interview. Know a company’s values, mission, the job position, etc.

What are some of the highs and lows you experienced?

  • Moving to NYC for my internship and exploring the city and all of its beauty
  • My ESPN internship in which we had a chance to meet John Skipper, former President of ESPN and touring the set, of course!
  • Transitioning to my new role at Twitter and training in San Francisco
  • Speaking at Twitter’s Global Sales Conference in San Francisco
  • Making a TON of new friends in NYC
Lows (which I would also called lessons and experiences that helped shape my present)
  • Applying for multiple internships and college organizations that I was denied acceptance
  • Moving to NYC not knowing anyone and trying to find a place to live — definitely a tricky one to accomplish!
  • Letting go of my home in Atlanta, but once I did that, I was able to fully enjoy my new home in NYC

I truly feel that this EXPERIENCE in New York City post college has helped me grow into the woman I am today. I learned to not allow adversity defeat me or let things I cannot CONTROL affect me negatively. 

It took a while to gain this confidence because I was thrown into an unfamiliar place very quickly and had to navigate the fast paced life of working in NYC. I am not longer held against mistakes I’ve made in the past and I can only look forward to the future. While I will always be the woman with a plan, I will not tie myself completely to a binding plan because … well you know by now…. plans change, ha. Looking in hindsight, I have enjoyed the journey thus far even with all the disappointments, adversity, and even personal struggles I have faced. I still have a long ways to go, but ladies, I am along for the ride.

I always loved NYC. It was a city of not just tall buildings and Times Square, but of dreams and opportunities. I always thought I would move to NYC at some point in my life, but that move came more quickly than expected. NYC houses major media companies, advertising agencies, and sports leagues. I wanted to immerse myself in a hardworking and diverse culture. When ESPN called me with my acceptance to the internship program, I knew my only answer was… YES! Do not get me wrong, the move was difficult as the New York City real estate is competitive and expensive, but I was able to be resourceful and found a great apartment in my desired area through an app (thank goodness for technology, right?!).

My first full-time role at ESPN was in a fairly new department and the position was actually brand new. I was a programmatic analyst that helped open new revenue streams for the company within the digital and ad technology space. It was a great role because I was able to interact with senior leadership and all of the sales teams around the country and even parts of the world. I was able to make that position my own and set the foundation of the role as it began to expand into revenue analysis and client solutions.

It meant the world to me to have a company trust me with a brand new role coming right out college. 

I was exposed to so many facets of the digital advertising business and helped arm the sales teams with programmatic training and offerings.

Transitioning to Twitter, I started at the company in July 2017 as a Client Account Manager. I am on the sales team working with clients on their marketing objectives and consulting with agency partners on optimizing strategies for their campaigns. I was excited about gaining experience in social and digital advertising. I think the entire office knew how happy I was to work at Twitter because they allowed me to share that excitement at Twitter’s Global Sales Conference in San Francisco.

Two weeks on the job, I was told I was going to speak, and I kid you not, I thought they meant another Shelby. 

But, sure enough it was me and I was extremely blessed for the opportunity to speak to 800 of my fellow tweeps around the world. I am continuing to grow into my role as I plan to be more involved in Twitter Employee Resource groups and other events. So really, I am just getting started!

I knew I was going to be one of very few African American women in the office when I entered the workforce. I was quite aware of that growing up and throughout my time at UGA.

I am proud to be an African American and proud to be a woman, and I wanted to make sure my IDENTITY WOULD not deter me from pursuing OPPORTUNITIES where I know I WOULD be the MINORITY. 

Advertising, sports, and tech industries are not the most diverse fields, but the fact that I had the opportunity to work in all three fields, I am able to pay it forward to other women of color who are interested in pursuing their dreams in each of those areas. One thing I want to point out is that I never forgot who I was. I maintained a professional work ethic, but Shelby never went away. That took time to understand that if you forget who you are at your core, your entire identity is diminished, which eventually affects your personal and professional life.

I embrace my ethnicity and gender and it’s important you find a workplace that does too. 

Find a place where you can bring your whole self to work because trust me, it will only make you that much more confident to succeed.

Social Media and Website
Instagram: @_shelbylena
Twitter: @_shelbylena

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