Senior marketing major Shelby Baldwin has certainly been busy during her time at Mississippi State. From directing a week-long camp for nearly 1,000 excited new “Bulldogs,” co-founding a rapidly growing new student organization on campus, serving as Ambassador and recruitment intern for the College of Business, to creating business plans for not one but two startup companies, it’s no wonder that with all her success she was named 2018’s Miss MSU.
But the third generation Bulldog from Ridgeland says she wasn’t always sure she’d go to Mississippi State for college.
“When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to move somewhere far away for school; I had lived in Mississippi my whole life and wanted a change of scenery,” Baldwin remarks. “I toured a bunch of other schools in the Southeast before visiting MSU—mostly to please my dad—but when I finally did, I fell in love! The atmosphere at Mississippi State just seemed so different from anywhere else. Everyone was so friendly, and you immediately felt accepted.”
The summer flew by, and Baldwin’s excitement grew as she imagined the new chapter that awaited her at MSU. The week before her first semester, the eager freshman dove headfirst into New Maroon Camp, a weeklong student-led retreat which prepares first year students for campus life. New Maroon Camp helped Baldwin network and learn about the many programs and organizations that her new school had to offer.
“New Maroon Camp definitely helped in jump-starting my involvement. “Everything I have been involved in and have succeeded in since I was a freshman can be traced back to a connection or experience I had during New Maroon Camp,” says Baldwin. “The program has been my biggest passion at State since I got here. I’ve been a participant and as a counselor, I’ve held different leadership positions, including overseeing the camp as executive director this year.”
As the fall semester began, Baldwin decided to make the most of her college experience. She was selected by the Student Association to serve as a counselor on Freshman Forum, a small leadership conference which educates high school juniors and seniors about collegiate leadership and involvement. She also joined a sorority, where she met Kaylie Mitchell, a marketing student who had recently co-founded a quickly growing startup company through the MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach.
Baldwin began college majoring in secondary education but by sophomore year, she was leaning toward business. So when Mitchell offered Baldwin a marketing internship with Glo—a company which made liquid-activated lighted drink enhancers—she jumped at the opportunity.
“I loved the fast-paced environment, helping with a new startup,” says Baldwin. “I was in charge of social media, and assisted in sales, outreach and coming up with ad designs. I really never knew that I had a passion for digital marketing until I started interning for Glo, and now I use it in almost everything that I do. After a couple of weeks working there, I officially changed my major from secondary education to business administration, with a minor in marketing,” she adds.
Interning for the student-run startup company also helped her get plugged into the E-Center, which later led to the creation of two new startup companies, with business partners Calvin Waddy and Brandon Johns. The first, Thrive Island, is an online women’s clothing company.
“The startups kind of happened on a whim. It was spring break and Calvin and I were broke college students trying to come up with ways to make money. We brainstormed and through our research we discovered that online shopping, especially women’s clothing, was really lucrative. We both had strong backgrounds in digital marketing, so we created a website and Instagram account and both really took off. We have nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram in just a matter of months!” Baldwin exclaims.
After the success of their first startup, they also created a digital marketing agency, Rocketing Media, where Johns joined them. “With this company, we assist companies with website building, ad design, content creation, social media strategy and search engine optimization,” says Baldwin. She says right now they are working with three restaurants in the Memphis area, but they hope to eventually work with clients in other areas as well.
“That’s really what I love about the College of Business; it will set you up for literally anything you could possibly want to do with your life,” she says. “A business degree is extremely versatile, especially at Mississippi State. You can literally start your own business and be set for life before you even graduate.”
Baldwin has also kept busy through her work as President of MSU’s Undergraduate Women in Business (UWIB) organization, which she co-founded in fall 2017 with former College of Business student Feifei Zeng.
Modeled after Harvard University’s annual Intercollegiate Business Convention (IBC), Baldwin says the student organization is designed to “hold each other accountable and push each other to be successful, so when we graduate, we can succeed in the career that we’re all pursuing.”
In two years, UWIB membership has grown to 175 “business-minded women” from various academic disciplines across campus. The organization meets bi-weekly, hosting guest speakers, Q & A sessions and various workshops such as resume’ reviews, internship advice, and proper business etiquette. Most recently, MSU’s UWIB worked with the College of Business to co-host women's equality activist, public speaker, and author Lilly Ledbetter, who shared the inspirational story of her fight for equal rights in the workplace, and how her determination became a victory for the nation.
And if Baldwin weren’t busy enough, she manages to find time to volunteer as a COB Ambassador, where she promotes the College of Business by helping to coordinate special events, recruit prospective students, meet and greet parents, and visit with alumni. Through the Ambassador program, she met Assistant Director of Recruiting and Events for the College, who was immediately impressed by Baldwin’s work ethic and knowledge about all the events and programs in the College of Business. With the help of Dr. Melissa Moore, a position was created in January for her to work as Waters’ recruitment intern. Baldwin assists Waters with the campus visit presentations, COB brochures, email campaigns, photos, and graphics for Preview Days and Academic Insight.
“I'm really passionate about all the things that the College has offer and it's a privilege to be able to help showcase that to students. And it's just really fun being able to connect something that I love with my job and doing something I love,” she says.
Baldwin recently changed her major to marketing, and is set to graduate in May 2019. When asked if she has a dream job in mind, Baldwin stops, carefully reflecting about the various roles she’s held during her time on campus.
“I honestly think there's no one dream job, just dream job characteristics. I know that I eventually want to work in a big city—I’d be fine with Atlanta or somewhere more northern like Boston, New Haven, Hartford,” she says. "A good company culture supporting diversity is really important to me. I want to be working around people that are different than me—men, women, from all different races and different backgrounds. I've interacted with several companies, through networking and attending career fairs on campus that are really big on that. So I don't think that'll be hard to find. I do like being able to come up with my own deadlines and decide what I want to do on which days and working at my own pace though. So for right now, I think my ‘dream job’ would probably be to continue working on the startups."
Baldwin says she isn’t sure what the future holds, but she has plenty of options. In a matter of just four short years, she has already racked up a quite impressive resume’. One could argue that success has already found Shelby Baldwin. And she’s just getting started.