ChooseATL Names University of South Carolina Graduate Student Winner of 2017 Ultimate Job Interview Contest

Share Article

Nicole Smith Awarded $10,000 During a Primetime Special on WSB-TV

In the contest’s second year, we received over 135 entries from students and young professionals across the country who were eager to share why they want to make their mark in Atlanta.

ChooseATL, a movement dedicated to attracting and retaining top talent to metro Atlanta, yesterday announced the winner of its Second Annual Ultimate Job Interview Contest (UJIC) during a finale event broadcasted on WSB-TV. After conducting Shark Tank-style interviews with three finalists, a panel of judges presented University of South Carolina (USC) graduate student Nicole Smith with a $10,000 grand prize.

Smith is a Surfside Beach, S.C. native and received her master’s degree in mass communication from USC in December 2016. While studying, she held three internships and a full-time position with a state cabinet agency.

“I considered living all over the country, but after I weighed the pros and cons of all the major cities, I only had positive things to say about Atlanta,” said Smith. “Winning the Ultimate Job Interview Contest feels like an official welcome to the city that I’m meant to thrive in.”

In addition to the cash prize, Smith was awarded six months’ free rent at Olmsted Chamblee and a six-month MARTA pass. Wesleyan University student AJ Wilson came in second and received $5,000, while Spelman College alumna Gayla Robbins placed third and won $2,500. In addition, all three finalists will receive interviews with Atlanta companies in their particular industries of interest.

The finale event took place January 12 at WSB-TV’s studio in Atlanta. All three finalists pitched themselves to the judges before an invite-only audience. The panel of judges included:

  •     Steve Koonin – CEO of the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club
  •     Marian Pittman – executive vice president of digital strategy and research at Cox Media Group
  •     Hala Moddelmog – president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber
  •     Kathryn Finney – founder and managing director of digitalundivided
  •     Jeffrey Martín – founder, president and CEO of honorCode

“In the contest’s second year, we received over 135 entries from students and young professionals across the country who were eager to share why they want to make their mark in Atlanta,” said Kate Atwood, vice president of ChooseATL. “We feel strongly that Gayla, Nicole and AJ, are among the next wave of game changers and we’re excited to welcome them to the Atlanta family.”

All three contestants arrived in Atlanta on January 10 to compete in the finale event. Participants enjoyed an all-expense paid, three-day trip during which they toured the Center for Civil and Human Rights, participated in a business challenge at the College Football Hall of Fame and Adult Swim, and networked with influential city leaders, including Mayor Kasim Reed.

The Ultimate Job Interview Contest is an initiative from ChooseATL to advance its mission of attracting and retaining top and emerging millennial talent to its city by showcasing opportunity, evolving perceptions and engaging them in building the community they will ultimately call home. To learn more, visit

About ChooseATL

ChooseATL is a movement focused on telling a comprehensive story about Atlanta to attract and retain top talent to intentionally grow the region’s prosperity in the global economy. The initiative highlights the abundant opportunity for career growth across the 29-county region, as well as the unique culture and lifestyle offered in Atlanta. To join the movement, visit or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Rachel Blanks, AR|PR
(855) 300-8209

Terrilyn Simmons, ChooseATL
(404) 586-5448

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Rachel Blanks
+1 8553008209 Ext: 108
Email >
since: 10/2013
Follow >
since: 05/2015
Like >

Follow us on
Visit website