By Margaret Beckley

Coming into SPIA at UGA as a freshman, I knew I wanted to major in International Affairs and Political Science, but I did not realize that SPIA would give me so much more than a degree.

UGA can seem like a big school, but the size of SPIA allows you to have the same sense of community with your professors and peers that you would find at a small school. In addition to this community, SPIA has given me a wealth of other opportunities that have made my time here so memorable. Through SPIA I was able to study abroad in Europe on SPIA’s study abroad program in Verona, Italy. This program has hands down been my favorite experience while at UGA. Through the program I got to experience different cultures first hand, I made lifelong friends, and I got to interact with amazing UGA faculty. One of the professors on the trip was Dr. Bullock, and  by getting to know him in Italy he became one of my mentors within SPIA. It was Dr. Bullock who further encouraged me to take part in an internship in the summer between my junior year and senior year. Dr. Bullock is a major advocate of both studying abroad and internships because they give you unique experiences and help you develop tools and networks for you future career.

With Dr. Bullock’s advice, I interned over the summer (and then was extended for four more months) at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. I loved every minute of my internship and learned so much from it. One of the biggest takeaways during my internship was just how big the SPIA alumni network is. Although SPIA is a small college within UGA, the sense of community among SPIA graduates follows into the professional world. During my internship I meet SPIA graduates who were so excited to help a fellow SPIA student (one even also studied abroad through the Verona program). Those people became instant friends and mentors, and I do not think many other colleges can provide that sense of community that SPIA does. Now as a senior about to leave UGA, I am confident that the experiences I had through SPIA have prepared me for me career, and I know that I am leaving with a community and network of fellow SPIA students that will help me succeed.