The Semester in Tallahassee program will offer nine New College students access to the state political process during the legislative session, in conjunction with FSU, for just the cost of New College admission and an apartment.
Semester in Tally is sponsored by Professors of Political Science Keith Fitzgerald and Frank Alcock, as well as Assistant Director of Internships Andrea Knies. It will place a major emphasis on students interning in the Capitol and gaining valuable experience to supplement their studies.
“Internships are available with a variety of organizations representing different vantage points in the legislative and policymaking process,” Alcock said in an email. “These include legislative staff, government agencies, NGOs and private firms. Some are issue or sector focused, others are more generalized. Other internship opportunities that are distinct from the legislative session are also possible.”
Fitzgerald and Alcock are currently using their personal contacts and relationships to find the best internship for each student’s interests. Students were able to choose from a list of internship possibilities with organizations the professors have connections with, and also have the option to seek opportunities on their own.
“If students have specific target organizations for which we do not have current contacts, we can still assist them in approaching those organizations,” Alcock added.
Over the past few weeks, the nine student participants have been preparing for the program as part of a weekly tutorial led by Knies. Weekly assignments for the tutorial have included crafting professional resumes, applying to internships, and choosing FSU courses for the spring.
“Part of what we learned through our planning process is that there are a lot of moving pieces, and you’re not only working with New College for all the off-campus study elements,” Knies said. “You’re working with FSU if you want to take classes there, you’re working with some separate housing organizations to live in Tallahassee, and you have to find an internship. And so because there are so many elements, we decided that in order to make sure the students are well prepared to go to Tallahassee, we just think it makes sense for us to meet weekly to talk about what’s important and what needs to come next.”
The student participants encompass a wide range of AOCs including but not limited to economics, political science and anthropology. The tutorial helps students use the Semester in Tallahassee program to create a unique experience that will satisfy each student’s diverse academic needs.
“The program is definitely going to give me the opportunity to fine-tune what I want to do with the rest of my life,” second-year general studies AOC Olivia Van Housen said.
Third-year political science AOC Allen Serrell hopes to use the program to further his knowledge of the political process as he works toward graduation.
“If there’s one thing I remember from my Florida Politics class, it’s that state governments are just as consequential, if not more consequential, to the citizens of the state as the federal government,” Serrell said. “And I’m told by multiple people that have been involved in the political process that there’s things you can learn by working in the legislature that you can’t necessarily learn in a classroom.”
When the spring semester begins, students will be able to take two courses at FSU. Students will also be able to participate in a seminar with an in-residence NCF faculty member. The off-campus contract of each participant will ultimately total four courses, plus an internship.
Throughout the semester, there will also be many opportunities for students to meet with New College alums in the area and form more connections.
“The Tallahassee alumni group is very interested in being involved, so we’ll be able to put together either receptions, or dinners, hopefully some volunteer events, that the students are able to participate in there and get to know the alumni as well,” Knies said. “So there’s that additional piece to it.”
Going forward, the Semester in Tallahassee program is scheduled to be an annual off-campus study opportunity for second and third-year students at New College.
Students will move to an apartment complex near FSU and the Florida State Capitol in January to begin interning and taking classes at FSU. They will also design an ISP that can be conducted in Tallahassee during January.
“It’s going to be really fun,” Van Housen said. “I’m really excited to be hanging out with this group of people for a long time. And, I think it’s going to be a great learning opportunity. That’s what I’m going to take it as.”