Every Day at the Capitol
Georgia Southern had its official “Day at the Capitol” on February 3, but for University Honors Program students Andrew Smallwood and Rachel Neuhauser, every day this semester is a day at the capitol. Both students are spending the spring in the Georgia Legislative Internship Program.
Smallwood (political science ‘15) chose to participate in the internship because of his interests in political science. “It was an unparalleled opportunity to network and gain an extra leg up in terms of experience,” he said.
Smallwood said that each day for the interns is a little different. Some days are spent answering calls from constituents or organizing events, and on other days he is summarizing legislation in order to brief elected officials on special topics.
Neuhauser (sociology ’15) find the work very rewarding. “Through hard work, I’ve gained the respect of dedicated public servants, who in turn entrust me with immense responsibility,” she said.
She chose this internship to have a better understanding of the government that influences lives on a daily basis. “In order to be an active citizen, it is necessary not only to understand the government, but also to have an educated appreciation for government,” said Neuhauser.
Smallwood agrees and said, “I was excited to be doing work that mattered with people who can really make a difference.”
Both students will use this internship opportunity in their honors thesis. Neuhauser’s thesis is an examination of modernization processes in China. The internship has given her a new perspective on the role of government and constituency. “In having the knowledge of what a state government controls, I have a greater understanding of the magnitude of issues that China’s government faces,” Neuhauser said.
Smallwood’s honors thesis is an analysis of government branch popularity. His work in the Governor’s Floor Leaders’ Office has given him the privilege of witnessing the two branches interact with one another. But the best perk of the internship is the reference letters that come from senators, representatives, lobbyists, he said.
Both Neuhauser and Smallwood work with high profile senators, representatives, and lobbyists. “There are a lot of negative associations to politicians, but in my experiences so far, they do not apply to Georgia officials,” Neuhauser said.
“They may be high profile, but they’re just people,” Smallwood said.
Neuhauser and Smallwood encourage other students to apply for this opportunity. “The legislature deals with so many issues that people from all types of backgrounds can find their niche,” Neuhauser said.
Smallwood echoed that sentiment, and emphasized how the position pushes him forward in his requirements at Georgia Southern as well as prepares him for his career. “Accompanied with class credit, the work experience is second to none,” he said.
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