How was your overall Historically Black College University experience?
I love my HBCU with all my heart! As a Race, Class and Culture major. I deeply respect North Carolina A&T's history of leading the way to advancement for black people. From the A&T Four, to Ronald McNair, I was so appreciative to join the ranks of my trailblazing alumnus. I had a nontraditional experience in undergrad. I dropped out after my freshmen year, to pursue a career in journalism. After living in NYC for a semester, and interning at Conde Nast, I returned to A&T in 2013. I was a 21-year-old Sophomore, while my class was preparing to graduate that spring. I had the advantage of being more mature and more motivated than my class. I had been out into the real world, worked a job I loved, and knew what I needed to do to get back out there and be successful.
Why did you create Bombshells in Business?
During my 2 years away from A&T, I was being published by major publications, interning, interviewing celebs, and my classmates at A&T had been following my journey via social media. So, when I returned to campus, so many students had questions for me about how I had managed to do all these "cool" things by the time I was 21. After speaking to a few Aggies, I realized they knew nothing of LinkedIn, cover letters, or branding. I figured the entire campus could use some career etiquette.
A&T produces a larger number of Black engineers than any other institute in the nation. So, naturally, the school's resources, career services and career fairs are heavily centered around the engineering program. Unfortunately that didn't leave much room for the creative majors, like communications, journalism, and art. So I wanted to create a space where there could be fresh and fun advice for those in creative fields, instead of the stiff business guidelines that weren't really applicable to them.
How was your transformation from undergrad to Adulting and moving to the big apple?
Oh boy! I'm still trying to figure out this whole adulting thing! It's a trip! I had spent almost every summer of college in NYC interning, and I'm also originally from Brooklyn, so NYC wasn't a huge transition for me. Most of my family is still here so that's a huge help. I can always go to my aunt's for home cooking!
But adjusting to being away from my mom, dad and friends was a shock. You go from seeing your friends everyday on campus, to seeing them zero percent of the time. Also finding my way in my career field was very challenging. I moved here to be a intern at InStyle Magazine and ended up getting fired because I made a horrible closet intern. So I knew very quickly that kind of work wasn't for me, but I was discouraged.
I got over the disappointment, but it was a tough experience. The other thing about adulting in New York is that there's a undercurrent of feeling like you have to be a beacon of "black excellence" by the time you're 25. Like, if you're not a power couple with some cool job then you're not successful.
Things can also be very superficial here. People like to be seen, they like to be as close to famous people as possible, they like to seem important. I'm not that way. I like to work, so trying to find my place in the city is still a work in progress.
One thing that's been awesome is the other black women that I've met here. I've met so many great, hard working, beautiful women just like me. It's great to have them for encouragement, support and partying!
What's next for Shelby?
I start my new position at Conde Nast soon. I'm the newest Digital Sales Planner for Vogue. This is a promotion from my previous position at Mindshare as an Associate Media Planner. I'm super excited to be back in the fashion industry, and I mean it's CONDE NAST....IT'S VOGUE! It's a dream come true! Conde Nast, amongst other major fashion brands, is finally embracing digital and millennials. So I'm super excited to be joining the team at such a pivotal moment.
What advice can you give our readers?
Relax. You don't need to have all the answers right now. I know there's a lot of pressure to have it all together right now, but it's totally okay if you don't. God will bring you to it when it's time. In the meantime, get as much experience as you can. Intern, volunteer, find a mentor to guide.