By Macey Myers

Last fall, an email hit my inbox that would soon give me one of the greatest opportunities of my college career. Adam Paige, SPIA’s Internship Advisor, often sends email updates with local internship opportunities. This email was different. It explained the SPIA Experiential Learning Internship Program, a program that I knew nothing about. After reading the email, I was sold. It seemed too good to be true.

The SPIA Experiential Learning Internship Program is a program that allows students to pursue unpaid internships anywhere in the world while providing the student with an hourly wage, living reimbursement, travel reimbursement, and class credit. I quickly set up a meeting with Adam to learn more about the program, and soon after our meeting decided to apply. To my surprise, I was accepted! I then had to start tackling internship applications. While I had secured funding, I had not yet secured an internship, and this was critical.

The internship process was difficult. While Adam had a list of local internship opportunities that were in need of interns, he encouraged me to aim higher. I decided to apply for a congressional internship on Capitol Hill, though, and was offered the position. Receiving that offer email was one of the most exciting, surreal moments of my life, especially because I knew that this opportunity would most likely become reality.

I had always dreamed of living and working in Washington, DC, but I never thought that I would have the opportunity to do so, especially so soon. My funding was approved, so I accepted the internship position and soon moved to Capitol Hill. My experience in DC was easily one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I truly would have never had this opportunity without the SPIA Experiential Learning Internship Program. My financial situation never allowed me to pursue internships elsewhere in the country, especially not unpaid internships. The SPIA Experiential Learning Internship Program gave me my dream internship while still keeping me on track academically and financially. This internship also bolstered my resume, allowed me to network with other professionals in DC, and gave me a closer look at policymaking and the legislative process in real-time. This experience also gave me insight to the UGA alumni network, as my congressman was a UGA alumnus, as well as three other staffers in my office. My supervisor actually graduated from UGA within the last year; we were able to connect and relate in many ways because of our alma mater.

SPIA has numerous opportunities for its students, many of which allow students to pursue internships and other experiential learning opportunities they might not be able to pursue otherwise. I am so grateful for the donors who made this experience possible for me. I cannot encourage SPIA students enough to look into this program – it will change your life!