Hi, everyone. My name is Alana Entinger, and I am a third-year International Affairs student. As mentioned in my previous blog that was posted on September 8, 2020, I created a professional relationship with one of my previous professors. She assisted me in helping me find a research mentor, and since then, I have finally begun my research project with the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO)!

When I first heard about the opportunities that UGA students have to research, I was intimidated. It seemed like it was way out of my league to do a complex project as an underclassman student. However, my research mentor has been giving me advice every step of the way. Although I am only four weeks into the project, it is by far my favorite class that I have taken at UGA (INTL 4960R). While I have thoroughly enjoyed every SPIA course thus far, I am researching a topic that is my niche.

While I still have a lot to learn about the research process since this is my first time participating in research with CURO, my mentor has already taught me so much. I have learned how to find more reliable academic sources and have started to incorporate non-traditional sources into my work, too. For example, I have started listening to podcasts and watching informational videos, which has helped strengthen my understanding of the research topic. Although I have not learned how to use “R” yet, I am getting closer to interpreting data, and I am super excited to start!

To any UGA student or prospective student that is reading this, I hope that you will consider doing research. This is the best piece of advice that I can give you. Even though this course has pushed me academically, I have learned so much about my research topic. It has also helped me navigate my post-undergraduate plans as I want to work for the intergovernmental organization that I am researching! And in addition to learning a lot about this intergovernmental organization, I am also learning about concepts and theories that I have been able to apply in my other SPIA courses and electives.

Although it can seem terrifying, it is so much fun. Furthermore, there are so many opportunities that come with conducting research. For example, you have the chance to present your findings at the CURO symposium, and you can also write a thesis! There are so many more advantages, and as long as you have a mentor and an idea of what you want to research, you are allowed to do this!

For me, it has been such an incredible opportunity to step out of my comfort zone personally and academically. Not every school makes research as accessible for undergraduate students as the University of Georgia and the School of Public and International Affairs do, so I encourage anyone who is reading this to look into the process!