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Douglas Roberts

Douglas Roberts

SPIA: May 2012

Legislative Assistant at Florida State Senate

During my final semester at UGA I participated in the Georgia Legislative Internship Program which brought my passion for politics to fruition. I knew I wanted to solidify a career in politics and the best thing I did for myself was talk to everybody. We live in a world where a strong professional network can go a long way towards helping your career. But even with a strong network, finding that first job can be tough. Knowing this, I began working on campaigns to expand my network and prove my work ethic. I built a strong network throughout Georgia and found myself six months out of college and working temporary political gigs in hopes of getting my “break.” Eventually, it came when I became the Government Affairs Coordinator with the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Georgia.

After working for BOMA for a while, I was informed by a friend that a Senator in Florida needed a new Legislative Assistant. I contacted the Senator and was offered the position. As a Legislative Assistant, I travel with Senator Tom Lee for committee meetings. I also draft legislation, present before committees, and work closely with elected officials, legislative staff, and government relations professionals on bill language and intent. The part of my job that I like the most is working on the various pieces of legislation because it allows me to learn about a host of legislative and political issues. My career goal is to one day work as a regional lobbyist. My current job is an essential component to achieving this goal because I now have legislative experience in more than one state, and am becoming well-versed in many different issues while expanding my network across state lines.

The advice I would give to students is to first understand that much of today's professional environment is based on relationships. Sure, once that is established one's merit and work ethic are what keep the doors open, but to even have the opportunity to show your worth requires that you know the right people. With that being said, practice networking. In most cases, it’s best to start with just casual conversation pertaining to a shared interest. It could be the Dawgs, or anything else that creates a common bond. In my opinion, it all starts with something as simple as that!