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On my application to Wake Forest (go deacs!) five and a half years ago, I was prompted to write a “top ten list.” In 2016, my list was the top ten monuments/buildings I’ve been to the top of. In 2022, my new list is the top ten pieces of advice I have for incoming fellows: 


  1. Ask a lot of questions: I knew little to nothing about local government before starting my fellowship. Even more than six months into my work here, there is still a lot about local government that I don’t know, but I’ve learned a lot by asking my supervisor about the things that confuse me.
  2. Go on field trips: Ask your supervisor to bring you around to the various government facilities in the town or county you’re working in. I’ve been able to visit the landfill, courthouse, 911 call center, libraries, and water treatment plants; seeing these places has helped me understand more about the kinds of services local governments offer to their citizens. 
  3. Explore your host site: Admittedly, I have not done this as much as I’ve liked to but I look forward to hiking the various trails in my host county once it’s warmer outside. 
  4. Don’t be scared of a commute: It made the most sense for me to live in a bigger city about 30 minutes away from my host site. I’ve found that I actually enjoy the 30 minute commute, as I can drink my coffee in the morning and listen to music/podcasts on the way to work. 
  5. Go to Board meetings: You’ll learn a lot about how local government works by going to Commissioner or Council meetings.
  6. Find a good podcast or playlist to listen to that won’t distract you from your work: My personal favorites are Gilmore Guys (Gilmore Girls recap), Drama Queens (One Tree Hill recap), and Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (Celebrity interviews).
  7. Meal prep: I am emphatically NOT a morning person and I have perfected the art of getting ready and leaving my apartment in 15 minutes. Meal prepping and making my lunches the night before work saves me a lot of time so that I can sleep in every morning. 
  8. If you’re applying to grad school, try to start your applications early: Give yourself as much time as possible, so that you’re not stressed the week before your applications are due. Ask your references for recommendations about 2 months in advance of when you want to submit your application (and don’t be afraid to send reminders about your deadlines). 
  9. Find time for hobbies: When it’s nice out, I like to go on walks at a park near my apartment–not only for exercise but also for stress relief.  
  10. Become friends with your cohort: It is unlikely that many (if any at all) of your friends from college are going to work in public service fields. The fellows in your cohort, however, will fully understand the kind of challenges you may be facing at work. Schedule time to do Zoom (or real-life!) hangouts with your cohort!