Anyone who has taken a class with Jennifer Arbiter knows she is a woman who loves what she’s done and what she does. She’s a woman with many accomplishments and passions, one of her first being in the field of television production.
“I wanted to do something with television my whole life,” she said.
Arbitter’s first dream job was to be one of “Barker’s Beauties,” which was a popular name for the number of models circulated through The Price is Right. Barker’s Beauties’ jobs were to showcase the prizes and items given away on the show; it wasn’t until her mom told her that there were plenty of other jobs for pretty girls to have that she sets her sights on other things.
“I always wanted to do something good and I had a lot of different interests,” Arbitter said. “I thought at one point I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer. I wanted to be an FBI agent for a while until I did a research paper and got to see some dead bodies and ultimately decided that really wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
However, Arbitter’s love of journalism wasn’t fully realized until she joined her high school’s yearbook staff.
“I was like, ‘That’s it! I can do something good, tell people what’s going on in the world, report on things, and also be on TV,’” she said. “It was perfect.”
She had set her sight on who she wanted to be, and after graduating at the top of her class from the University of Georgia, she was determined to do just that. Despite her many academic achievements, Arbitter had trouble finding a job straight out of college.
“I was told how hard it would be to find a job as a television reporter and naturally I didn’t believe them because I believed I was special, you know?” she said. “Who wouldn’t want to hire me?”
It took her six months to find a job, and during that time she learned how to handle rejection.
“Sometimes you get rejected with a nice letter,” she said. “Sometimes with nothing at all, and sometimes people are downright rude to you. My mom always told me it was like I was trying to get into a secret club and couldn’t get access to the password, but I finally did.”
By touring stations all around the southeast, Arbitter finally landed her first job in television.
“I made up reasons to visit television stations,” she said. “I’d say things like, ‘I have a cousin that I’m visiting and I just graduated. I would love to tour your station!’ And it was from finally getting in there and that face to face interaction that I got my first job in South Carolina.”
Her first job was followed by many others, where she served as a news anchor, news director and eventually professor.
“As news director I got to hire people who were mostly coming right out of college and I got the chance to train them and mold them just the way I wanted them and then they’d leave,” she said. “It’s kind of like what I’m doing now. I get to watch my students grow from freshmen to seniors and watching them all flourish. It’s very much the same just a slightly earlier time table.”
At the end of her tenth year teaching at Piedmont, Arbitter has decided to retire from teaching mass communications.
“I really love working with everyone here,” she said. “But, I’ve got three children at home and time is moving so fast. I want to be there for them.”
Retirement won’t stop Arbitter from doing more.
“I’m going to start training my 2-year-old puppy to be a therapy dog,” she said. “I’m currently on the board for a charity that raises money for cancer patients in Rabun County, and I’m on the Rabun County Economic Development Authority which brings business to the county.”
Jennifer Arbitter has lived her dreams and has done all the things she set her mind to. With the right combination of skill and ambition, Arbitter believes that anyone can follow in her footsteps.
“Produce quality content, because that’s what people seek out, whether they’re watching the local news or YouTube or videos on Facebook,” she said. “Think about the impact of what you’re doing on a grander scale than how it’ll just affect you, because the internet is forever. Think of how you can make a positive impact.”