Consider American Government
In my first year of college, an adviser recommended that I take an American Government course at some point. I was NOT excited however, I did want to know how taking such a course could be more valuable than what I could read online any other day. Figured it couldn’t hurt to take one as an elective so… in two semesters I finished a course in American Government and another in State and Local Government.
I should have been more excited.
Not Knowing my Rights!
Often times we really don’t know what we THINK we do. Many of us have heard, “Know your rights,” in one way or another, but I sure didn’t know all of mine. Going through these courses forced me to thoroughly examine the Constitution and to challenge basic things I thought I knew. I was also encouraged, for the first time, to research the dominant political parties here in the U.S and to see how their platforms aligned with my beliefs and whether or not they would truly defend my individual rights. Throughout the course, each chapter became more personal as we dissected local issues and national injustice, discussing how each case affected us individually.
Ask Pressing Questions
Before the semester is over, there may be a field trip to your local government offices, an in-class guest speaker – or both! This is the time to get your questions in. During my State and Local Government course we visited our City Hall and had multiple political representatives and officers speak in class. It took some time for me to learn this but, most representatives or officers that take the time to visit your class aren’t just there to be polite. They seemed to be quite interested in hearing the student’s point of view and in trying to answer most of our (sometimes outrageous) questions. After all, most students are residents, residents have standing issues and well… fixing these standing issues can help them to keep their jobs. They need you to ask the hard questions and yes, class may get a little intense sometimes, but what this does is teach us, as students, how to properly engage in meaningful discussion without ripping each other’s heads off (that would be pretty gruesome).
The Hook Up?
It is no surprise that networking in college and university is a MUST. What may be slightly surprising, though, is how little students take advantage of opportunities during college. Classes like the ones mentioned above provide some of the best chances of networking, especially for students interested in political science. Thanks to the way my courses were set up at St. Petersburg College, I was able to go on field trips, attend events and interact directly with local politicians. That is A-LOT of exposure… the hook-up. Shaking the hands of a major representative is great, but it goes far beyond that. Internships await!
In closing, I leave you with one thing. If you are advised to take some form of an American Government course…really, really consider it.
*Tip* If you can, try to get a few ‘business cards’ made (putting your school email and name on it) so that you can hand them to whomever you wish when the opportunity arises.