Alexis Boss is a senior at UGA, double majoring in international affairs and political science. Her experience with the SPIA Emerging Leaders program has opened her eyes to the importance of practical experience during her undergraduate career.
Alexis came from a family where getting an education was a given. “It all started when I was a kid; my aunt would watch the news with me and wanted me to be aware of things that would affect me as I got older,” Alexis explains. Her grandparents and aunt would read newspapers with her as a child instead of children’s books, a memory that Alexis looks back on fondly.
Alexis chose SPIA because, she says, there are so many different opportunities and avenues to take. Her aspirations have shifted from lawyer to ambassador to finally, a lobbyist. The experiences she has had with the Emerging Leaders program helped her decide that path.
“I want to be a good lobbyist, not a bad lobbyist,” Alexis laughingly says. “There are so many negative perceptions of lobbyists as these ominous figures, but like everything in politics, there’s another side— a good side.To me, lobbyists have a huge influence; while there are negative perceptions, there are lobbyists that work towards children’s healthcare, nonprofit organizations, housing, community outreach, and education.”
“The most important thing to me was to be able to make an influence, to make change,” Alexis concludes.
Alexis chose the SPIA Emerging Leaders program because at the time, securing an internship proved to be a challenge. “Internships are important because everyone should have experience that’s relevant to their field,” Alexis adds, “So, I wanted an internship that was government-related so I could try to find my passion.”
Alexis met Dean Auer at a SPIA coffee hour where they spoke about her college journey and trying to find an internship. “I emailed him afterwards so I could figure out a path that made sense for me,” Alexis says. “We sat down and went through different ideas, and cultivated a professional relationship. Then, the internship coordinator suggested to me the Emerging Leaders program.”
Alexis received an internship through the program, and continued developing her skills and professional network.
“When I got accepted to the program, I was so happy,” Alexis reveals. Her internship was with the city hall of Winder, Georgia, and after six months, they offered her a part-time job, where she still works.
Alexis emphasizes that the SPIA Emerging Leaders program connects students with faculty that then connects them with other resources and contacts.
“My favorite part [of my internship] is putting together community events for the city,” Alexis explains. “I actually came up with an idea for a back-to-school bash with the public library, and we just had our most successful ‘Spooktacular’ event at the public library.”
Alexis values the experience and especially loves the hands-on aspect of local government and the opportunity to interact with the community.
When asked about the Emerging Leaders program’s impact on her career, Alexis says, “This program has been a blessing in disguise. I didn’t realize that this one thing could snowball into so many other opportunities. This will set me up for another internship that will eventually set me up for a career,” Alexis asserts. “I’ve learned and grown and matured as a person and professionally. The program has really been a blessing for me to be where I am now and where I can go in the future.”
The SPIA Experiential Learning Fund gives students who are interested in working in the public or nonprofit sector the opportunity to get compensated for their unpaid internships with priority to underrepresented groups. To qualify as underrepresented students must satisfy at least two of the following conditions: (1) history of overcoming unique challenges; (2) first generation college student; (3) member of a low income family; (4) reside in a rural or inner-city location; (5) raised in a single parent household. If you are interested in supporting the Emerging Leaders Program to ensure a greater number of opportunities for students to pursue their public affairs interests then give to the Experiential Learning Fund.