Hi everyone! My name is Niamh Dempsey, and I am a fourth-year Political Science and International affairs double major with a minor in Law, Jurisprudence, and the State. I also had the opportunity to complete the Applied Politics Certificate last year, which significantly impacted my experience as a student in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at UGA. The Applied Politics Certificate is a one-of-a-kind joint program with SPIA and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. To complete the certificate, students need to take a Political Science class with Dr. Audrey Haynes, an Advertising & Public Relations class with Professor Joseph Watson, and complete an internship credit. Dr. Haynes’ class hosts weekly speaker events. It provides an opportunity to hear from practitioners in various roles across the political field.

Students also have the chance to go to lunch with these visiting practitioners, which was my favorite part of the program. It allowed me to pick their brains about their experiences in a personal setting. I made connections that have already helped guide me over the past year and, I’m sure, will continue to be integral to my transition out of college. Professor Watson’s class introduced me to the world of public affairs communication and political campaign communications. We developed essential communication skills in this course, including the ability to write and edit opinion pieces, policy briefs, and letters to the editors. The last step of this program is completing an internship credit. These classes introduced me to the many career opportunities for a political science and international affairs student. Dr. Haynes, Professor Watson, and even some visiting practitioners that I had the chance to meet were all incredibly helpful in my internship search. They were there every step of the way, even after I accepted my offer!

I interned for the Edison Electric Institute in their External Affairs department, which helped me complete the certificate program. I could utilize many skills I had learned in Dr. Haynes’ and Professor Watson’s classes, which eased my nerves significantly in the first few weeks! Over the 10-week internship, I crafted policy memos, one-pager reports, and social media communications, all while living in the nation’s capital and interacting with lawmakers and leaders. I cannot recommend interning in Washington, D.C., enough. I know I couldn’t have thrived like I did had it not been for the Applied Politics Program and the support from my professors, peers, and practitioners. One of the most impactful things the Applied Politics Program taught me is that people are willing to help and support you on your journey through school and even after graduation. My professors and everyone in my cohort were cheering me along every step of the way. Make sure to take advantage of every unique experience this program offers; it will undoubtedly change your college experience for the better!