spia networking

Tim Kassa (AB ‘99) speaks to students about career development at the 2016 SPIA Networking Night in Athens.

While some colleges within the University of Georgia host career fairs for students to meet employers, the School of Public and International Affairs instead provides other resources to aid students.

Zoe Li, a senior international affairs major has been involved in the SPIA Student Union for the past four years.

“Being a SPIA major you get a broader sense of what’s out there, but the challenge is to decide what to do with that range of knowledge,” Li said.

Li attended SPIA’s Washington D.C. program last spring and was introduced to the possibilities of a future career within the public sector. In terms of a career fair, Li said it’d be difficult to make a definite list of employers because the career field is so broad.

“I’m not sure what a SPIA career fair would look like. It’s difficult to know who to invite because we don’t want people to think that you can only go to law school or be a diplomat,” Li said. “There’s so many other opportunities out there.”

Dean of SPIA Matthew Auer said this year, he has focused more on career development, not only as a whole school but also on an individual level to cater to each student.

“It would be great to have a career fair, but we’ve done these other things that in some ways have substituted for that, and we aren’t done yet,” said Auer.

Resources for career development

Once a semester, SPIA hosts a networking night in which current students can meet and visit alumni and agency partners across a variety of organizations in politics, government and public affairs. The spring 2019 SPIA Networking Night is April 12 at the Holiday Inn Athens-University Area.

“The networking night is probably the closest thing we have to a career fair, and in some ways, I think it’s more effective because it’s exclusively our students and alumni,” said Auer.

In fall 2018, SPIA also added the position of an internship and recruitment coordinator, held by Adam Paige. His primary focus is to help students individually and facilitate the Emerging Leaders Program and the Experiential Learning Internship Program.

“Going forward, Adam will be identifying new agency sponsors across Georgia and working with faculty – particularly in international affairs – to secure places in agencies with SPIA-related missions,” Paul D. Welch, the director of student affairs for SPIA, said.

Kyle Poe is the career center consultant for SPIA and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, which involves partnering with faculty and staff to aid students through career development and job readiness.

Poe and Welch created an Arch-Ready Certificate program this past fall in order to provide students with an opportunity to come to career preparation workshops that were specifically tailored events to SPIA students.

While the workshops had low attendance from students in fall 2018, Poe said they would continue to gauge student interest in following semesters.

“In terms of the numbers, I think we need to be a little more strategic,” Poe said. “It won’t be a problem to get a lot more employers involved, but we’re also planning on reaching out to advisors and faculty to let them know what’s going on.”

Forging multiple career paths

Poe suggests for students to meet with a Career Center advisor and browse the “What Can I Do in My Major” on their website to be aware of opportunities. There is a variety of jobs within this field that can make finding a specific focus difficult, Poe said.

“I think the education of a SPIA student allows you to work in your passion, but it does require some self-reflection. I don’t think every student has to come to see us but they should because we can help you realize what your skill set is,” Poe said.

Chelsea Summers, a freshman international affairs and economics major, is in both SPIA and Terry College of Business and has seen the differences between the two schools. However, she recognizes the reason for those differences in the focuses of the colleges.

“One thing I think SPIA has is we have really good faculty who are always willing to do research projects and bring students on conferences,” Summers said. “That’s our secret power.”

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