by Alana Entinger

My name is Alana Entinger, and I am majoring in International Affairs. In January 2020, I transferred to UGA as a sophomore. Although I did not get a full semester because of Covid-19, I was able to make Athens my home very quickly because of the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA).

My advice to incoming freshmen, transfer students, or students who are new to SPIA is to connect with your professors. Although going to office hours may seem scary because the professors are experts in their fields, they do want to get to know you on a personal level and want you to do well. By going to introduce yourself, it shows them that you are invested in doing well in their class, and it will help them put a face to your name when you reach out and need help with an assignment.

Dr. Laura Zimmermann, who teaches “Politics of Development” (INTL 4320), played a huge role in how quickly I was able to settle onto campus. She helped me find a mentor for my upcoming research project and spent many hours helping me review course materials and talking about our mutual interests, especially Brexit.

My second piece of advice is to make friends with other SPIA students. I did this during my first semester, and it made going to class even more enjoyable. And this semester, I found that a lot of the friends that I made in the intro-level International Affairs courses were enrolled in the same classes as me! Finding people with the same interests was so important because I found that they were going through the same experiences as me. And this might seem cliché but having a support system on campus is so important.

Also, consider joining student organizations. This is another way to make friends with people who have mutual interests, and it is also a great way to network. I joined the SPIA Student Union last semester and went to an event where students had the opportunity to ask three professors any questions about local, state, or federal elections. It was very informative, and afterward, I talked with a professor, Dr. Audrey Haynes, about adding a minor in Political Science. She offered to help me if I had any questions, and I plan on reaching out to her this semester!

Lastly, utilize the numerous tools that SPIA provides. SPIA has an Internship and Recruiting Coordinator, Adam Paige, who is extremely knowledgeable and can help you find internships based on your interests and major. SPIA also has a Mentor program, where undergraduate students are paired with an upperclassman with a similar major. This can be helpful if you are looking for advice about which classes to take, or if you have any questions about SPIA!

Although I have only been here since the start of 2020, SPIA has already given me so many opportunities to succeed, and I could not imagine being a member of any other college at UGA!