SPJ Georgia job fair gives freelancers a chance to make pitches face-to-face with hiring editors

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 Kelsie Barton, editor-in-chief of JEZEBEL and Modern Luxury Weddings Atlanta, alongside Ashton Pike, an associate editor of Modern Luxury interviews an attendee seeking freelance work. Photo by Marquis Holmes


By Marquis Holmes, SPJ Region 3 Fall Intern, senior at Kennesaw State University and editor-in-chief of KSU’s student newspaper, The Sentinel.

Atlanta, GEORGIA — On Saturday, Aug. 18, SPJ Georgia partnered with the SPJ Georgia Freelance Committee to host their second annual Freelance Fair in Dunwoody, Georgia. 

The unique job fair invited approximately more than 40 registered freelancers from the metropolitan Atlanta area to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s headquarters to meet with several newspaper and magazine publications for immediate face-to-face discussion of freelancing opportunities.

The event pitted attendees with representatives from each publication in a 20-minute block, in which they were granted the opportunity to talk freelance employment. Attendees were allowed to schedule sit-downs interviews with a representatives ahead of time or were able to simply walk in or meet someone if time allowed.

Freelance fair with Mark Stell Adina
SPJ Georgia Freelance Committee member Mark Woosley, Stell Simonton and Freelance Committee head Adina Solomon assists arriving attendees at the Freelance Fair. Photo by Marquis Holmes

The event also included three break-out sessions, covered financial advice for freelancers, promoted the use of social media and provided several steps to establish a business. These sessions included several experts In various topics including Accountant Andrew Jordan, Career Consultant Al Smith and Keith Herndon, director of the University of Georgia’s James M. Cox Jr. Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership.

The event also held a raffle in which participating members were encouraged to drop their business cards in a jar to draw for the possibility of winning free Starbucks gift cards at the conclusion of the job fair. 

“I think this is a great resource [job fair] for those trying to break out into freelance journalism.” – Alex Mcintire

“I think this is a great resource for those trying to ‘breakout’ into freelance journalism,” said Alex McIntire, a recent graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia. She said that especially for herself it was useful to attend the breakout sessions, to listen to some experts and to get the chance to talk to some editors.

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Andy Miller, CEO and editor-in-chief of Georgia Health News interviews an attendee seeking freelance work during a block at the Freelance Fair. Photo by Marquis Holmes

Publications in attendance included the AJC, the Atlanta Voice, Georgia Voice, Georgia Health News, the Atlantan, Modern Luxury Weddings Atlanta, Modern Luxury Interiors Atlanta, Living Intown, Living Northside, Simply Buckhead, and Khabar Magazine. Some of the representatives are also members of the SPJ.

“I came hoping to leave with just one or two great new writers to add to my list of contributors and I have been pleased with everyone I met today,” says Kelsie Barton, Editor-in-Chief of JEZEBEL Magazine and Modern Luxury Weddings Atlanta. “This is a really great turnout and a lot of interest has been shown.”

“I came hoping to leave with just one or two great new writers to add to my list of contributors and I have been pleased with everyone I met today.” –  Kelsie Barton

The Freelance Fair was organized from the grassroots idea between SPJ Georgia President Haisten Willis and Adina Soloman, chair of the SPJ Georgia Freelance Committee and also emulated the SPJ Florida‘s Freelance Fair, according to Willis.

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SPJ Georgia President Haisten Willis converses with an awaiting attendee during the Freelance Fair. Photo by Marquis Holmes

Its intent is to add value to the SPJ membership on top of the free resources and networking opportunities that it already provides, said Mark Woosley, a member of the Freelance Committee. The first job fair was held at the AJC in May 2017 and brought out more than 70 attendees.

“A large contingent of our organization are freelancers and we wanted to give them the opportunity to connect with editors, to land freelance jobs and to network,” Woolsey said. “and we also thought it would be a good recruitment tool.”

“Its kind of an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of a situation for journalists across the country,” Willis said when speaking about the struggle of freelancing. “Obviously the profession has a lot lower employment numbers than it did 10 or 15 years ago.

But people still love journalism and still want to be journalists and so you kind of – I don’t know what to say ‘take what you can get’ – but you go to opportunities where you can find them,” said Willis. 

Marquis Holmes mug short
Marquis Holmes

Marquis Holmes  is a senior at Kennesaw State University majoring in journalism and emerging media with a minor in military leadership. He is also editor-in-chief of the Kennesaw State University newspaper, the Sentinel. Holmes is the fall intern for SPJ Region 3. He will be graduating in December 2018. marquisrholmes@gmail.com 

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