Growing Interns, Building Partners

In its second year, CITC’s Summer Internship Partner Program has expanded opportunities for developing Alaska Native professionals

The CITC Summer Internship Partner Program's 2017 intern cohort includes: (l - r) John Rogers,

The CITC Summer Internship Partner Program’s 2017 intern cohort includes: (l – r) John Rogers, Athena Steinhilpert, Lindsey Sam, Danelle Thurmond, Kendra Robbin, Ryan Thorne, and Tamija Woods, with CITC Employee Relations Manager Nikki Graham.

When Ryan Thorne decided to intern for a second year with CITC’s Summer Internship Partner Program, he didn’t wait to be assigned a position: He created one.

“Since I’d done the program before, I knew the opportunity for partnering with a construction company was feasible,” said Ryan. He sought out a position with Tikigaq Construction as a project manager’s assistant and, as a result, created a new partnership between Tikigaq and CITC.

“He’s doing cool stuff and getting experience applicable to his degree, and we’re helping to fund his position for Tikigaq,” explained CITC Employee Relations Manager Nikki Graham, who launched the CITC Summer Internship Partner program last year in an effort to create real-world work experience opportunities for Alaska Native students. “It’s a win-win-win for CITC, Ryan, and our new partner, Tikigaq.”

This internship program was built on CITC’s connections with new and existing partners — in particular with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, a long-time supporter of CITC programs. Alyeska is helping fund five of this year’s seven internship positions.

Long time CITC partner Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is funding five of the seven Summer Internship Partner Program interns.

Long time CITC partner Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is funding five of the seven Summer Internship Partner Program interns.

“Alyeska has been a key partner in making this internship happen and helping doors open for the next generation of Alaska Native employees and business leaders,” said Nikki.

Partnerships with other organizations and companies provide internship experiences across a variety of career fields, including engineering, the gas and oil industry, nursing, and business management. For the second year in a row, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is working with CITC, having doubled its internship positions with the Partner Program.

CITC partner Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is a long-time supporter of the organization's education and employment programs.

CITC partner Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is a long-time supporter of the organization’s education and employment programs.

BIA intern Tamija Woods is pursuing a career in dentistry, but her position with BIA’s Division of Transportation has shown her how important communication is in any field.

“We’re always communicating with leaders of different tribes, so I’ve learned the value of being respectful and understanding,” explained Tamija, who is working on a project to develop an Alaska state map of tribal and village roads. “Everything comes down to good communication, and that’s something I can use in any career field. I think everyone should be open to an internship like this because it opens up so many other possibilities.”

Outside partners have also been key to providing the interns with additional experiences and activities; the Alaska Native Heritage Center, in particular, has facilitated cultural training. Interns are partnering with the Knik Tribe to do volunteer projects through the program, as well.

Meanwhile, this year’s interns have greater access to opportunities within CITC, too.

“We had more capacity internally this year,” Nikki elaborated. “Last year, we really focused on outside partnerships, so it’s exciting that we can accommodate more career interests within our organization.”

CITC summer interns have numerous networking opportunities, including the annual BBQ and Intern Gathering last week at First Alaskans Institute, where they joined interns from CIRI, Bering Straits Native Corp, Calista, and FAI.

CITC summer interns have numerous networking opportunities, including the annual BBQ and Intern Gathering last week at First Alaskans Institute, where they joined interns from CIRI, Bering Straits Native Corp, Calista, and FAI.

This year, interns located at CITC are working in human resources, accounting, recovery services, and information technology (IT).

“This is my first time working in an office setting,” said IT intern John Rogers, who worked in the food industry before earning his degree in computer technology at the encouragement of CITC IT Director Jerry Kung. “I wanted to get some experience and practice in an office before jumping into a job. Seeing the inner workings of how an IT department like this supports the rest of the organization, you begin to understand all the detail that goes into helping people.”

In addition to new positions in and outside of CITC, the Internship Partner Program features other opportunities new to the program this year, including weekly intern luncheons, an intern team leader, and enhanced networking opportunities.

“Just the other day I ran into the vice president of a Native corporation, and he recognized me,” Ryan offered. “Just being out there and meeting people like him at the different networking events through the internship, that’s given me greater opportunities to get a full-time job. That’s one of the major benefits to this experience.”

For more information on the CITC Summer Internship Partner Program, please visit the program webpage.