Career Center

Photo: Blake Remkus

As graduation has come and gone, thousands of University of Georgia students have now headed into the real world and the workplace. Much like the world however, the workplace is always changing, and there are many who believe that the way people work is now changing too.

According to the Freelancer’s Union, one in three Americans are now working as independent workers. According to MBO Business Partners, these workers generate over $1.2 trillion annually and are a major growing part of the economy. That same MBO report predicts that by the year 2020, the number of independently employed workers in the economy will have jumped to one in two.

Carolyn Crist is an adjunct professor of journalism at UGA, where just seven years ago she received her undergraduate degree in newspaper journalism. Outside of the university, Crist works as a freelance journalist and co-owns a fine arts printing shop in town called Pixel and Ink. Crist recently gave a presentation at TedxUGA discussing how she made the change to restructure her life around freelancing.

“I wanted a lifestyle where I could work remotely, do some travel, have a flexible schedule, make my own hours,” Crist said.

Crist had wanted to work as a journalist since middle school, but quickly found that the office-bound life was not for her. Within her first year, Crist experienced several work-stress related illnesses that made her reconsider.

It was during this time that she went back to school at UGA, where she received a master’s in health and medical journalism and came across the idea of freelancing in the form of Tim Ferriss’ book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” wherein the Silicon Valley entrepreneur expands on the idea of managing one’s own work schedule.

Since she began her career as a freelance journalist three years ago, Crist is now a regular writer for Reuters and Paste Magazine. According to Crist, she makes more than twice what she did at her desk job while having greater management over her time. Crist credits this shift in the work place to freelancing to technology.

“Now that we’re all working from our cellphones and laptops so many industries…can do work no matter where they are,” Crist said.

According to the UGA Career Center’s Career Outcomes survey of UGA grads, 1 to 2 percent of the graduating class of UGA from the last three years have gone into self-employment.

Though common in journalism, it is a newly emerging form of work structure in other fields. According to Samantha Meyer, lead career consultant at the Career Center for Grady College: many students do not know exactly what they are getting into or where to look for information when it comes to freelancing.

“I would want to make sure that they know what they are getting to and potentially reaching out to [alumni],” Meyer said.

Other tips Meyer had for perspective freelancers included developing a portfolio and personal branding to allow students to more easily sell both themselves and their skill sets to new clients.

Other areas of confusion, such as how to manage taxes or schedule as a freelancer would be further reinforced by a mentor in the field. The Career Center offers portfolio critiques and personal appointments to students to these ends, providing information and preparing students for the workplace whether they find themselves on the traditional path or not.

Though no one can truly say what the future holds for the potential of UGA’s graduating class, it can also not be denied that they are heading into a changing workplace.

Editor's note: Crist formerly worked at The Red & Black as an undergraduate and graduate student.