by Micah Nix

In the final weeks of Spring 2020, before we were all abruptly sent home due to the pandemic, I was applying to be a part of the Applied Politics Certificate program. After a straightforward application and some brief correspondence with Dr. Haynes about the qualifications, I received my acceptance email in May just a few months before the new semester was set to begin. As excited as I was to know that I was accepted into this opportunity with great professors whose reputations preceded them, I was still so unsure of the semester ahead. I had no idea that this program would be the most fulfilling academic endeavor that I have taken on at UGA so far, and I am glad to be a part of something so incredible during a time that is so difficult and strange.

Not only was I unsure of how Fall 2020 would look in a pandemic, but I was also unsure of my future. I hoped that my next few years at UGA would help make my decision more clear, but I had no idea that it would be that much more clear in just a few months through this program.

The Applied Politics Certificate Program requires students to take three different classes during the Fall and the first class is Applied Politics with Dr. Haynes. Each week in this class, Dr. Haynes teaches us about a broad concept related to working in the political field. She also conducts interviews with different practitioners to explain their experiences, journeys, advice, and what they learned. These lessons and interviews have been very valuable to someone like me who is very interested in working in politics and government but is still unsure of what I specifically want to do. The interviews provide insight on what I should do to help me think more critically about my future plans and what I could happily envision myself doing. They also help me to better understand what all these political and public affairs jobs and careers entail. Not only do I have a better idea of all the jobs in the field that are available to me but I also have a greater appreciation of all the work done at the state level and in the private sector, as well.

The next class is Public Affairs Communications with Professor Watson. This class has been very interesting, especially during an election season. Dr. Watson explains how practitioners strategically lead communications campaigns and marketing plans. This is important for work in public affairs communication, campaigning, and the private sector.

The final class that all students in Applied Politics must take is Research Methods in Political Science with Dr. Glas. We each pick a research topic and complete a research paper throughout the semester. Learning how to conduct research on social concepts can seem very abstract and hard to grasp but being able to apply it is integral for a deeper understanding that is necessary for a career in political science.

While I still do not know for sure what the future holds for me, I am certain that the knowledge, connections, and advice I have gained in this program thus far will make those post-grad decisions far less daunting.