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19 Sep

From UGA to ESPN with Shelby Clayton

Getting out of your comfort zone can be scary, we cling to what’s familiar to us and often times that hold us back from all the world has to offer to us. Shelby Clayton always dreamed of working for ESPN and when her dreamed job called, she was forced to make a decision either stay in her comfort zone aka Atlanta, Georgia or take a leap of faith and take her talents to the Big Apple and become and Account Services Associate for ESPN!

So you get the call from ESPN, it’s your dream company but they want you to move to NY, what was your initial reaction?
At first, I thought it was a dream when I received the call that I was hired back to work for ESPN full-time. I had just come off an amazing experience interning at ESPN in New York City, and I was humbled that I had the chance to start my career at the Worldwide Leader in Sports. However, I knew I was facing a decision to either leave my hometown or move to a city where I would not know anyone. I leaned on my faith and trusted myself to believe I could make it in New York City. I will say I could not have done it without my family’s support.

Why were you afraid to leave Atlanta?
I knew I always wanted to explore different parts of world at some point. Initially, I thought I was going to start in Atlanta and work my way up to a New York or another big metropolitan city. However, life does not always work out that way. During my graduation commencement at the University of Georgia, Good Morning America’s Amy Robach had two words that always stuck with me, “Say Yes” in everything that you are called to do. I took the big leap. While I was nervous at first, it turned out to be the best decision of my life.

I’m sure there were a lot of factors that ultimately played into your decision to leave but what do you think was the biggest determining factor for you?
I had a lot to think about before making my decision but I knew professionally this was the best opportunity to grow and succeed in my industry. New York is a huge sports market. New York is home to numerous sports teams as well as many of the major sports leagues like the NBA, NFL, MLB, etc. ESPN sales and marketing hub is located in the city as well, so the exposure to work with some of the largest brands and sports entities was the biggest appeal. Also, the chance to work in New York does not come often, so this was my chance to make that move happen.

What advice would you give someone who’s afraid to leave their comfort zone?
I would say to trust yourself and realize time does not slow down for anyone. If there is an opportunity that awaits somewhere away from home, take a chance and leave. Home is not going anywhere, and nothing is permanent. Growing up, I was taught you never know if you like something until you try it. So try somewhere new at least once in your life and personally, that somewhere new came earlier than expected, but ended up working best for me. Experience life in a new place, and you will not regret it even if you end up back at home. At least you will not look back and say “what if,” so take a risk… and enjoy the ride.

Miss NFL Live headed to a screen near you ☺️

A photo posted by Shelby Clayton (@_shelbylena) on

So now you’re living in NYC, working for ESPN (you go girl!), how do you feel about your decision?
Thank you! I feel great. I am surrounded by amazing energy every day. I am motivated to succeed and take advantage of every opportunity this city offers. This was the best decision for my career because I am exposed to some of the largest companies in the world, but also I am meeting many other ambitious young professionals like myself that have now become my good friends. I am excited to see what the future holds as I begin my journey in New York City.


– Interview by Brittney Winbush (IG + Twitter)