Several times this spring, my grandmother and parents urged me to apply for Sealaska’s ten-week summer internship. They saw it as a great source of experience and told me to take advantage of the opportunity in front of me. I was hesitant in even starting the application process simply because of how unmotivated I felt at that point. I had just finished my second year of college and I wanted time to relax and hang out with friends. I ultimately decided to send off the application because it seemed much more enjoyable compared to being a couch potato all summer.
I am so glad I took some time to reflect on what was the best choice for me concerning my employment this summer. During the second week of my internship, Sealaska sent all of its interns to Juneau, Alaska. The plan was to inform us of their company purpose, values, and goals, all while showing us a great time through fun and informative activities, and enjoying some great food. I learned that Sealaska’s company values are simply to work together, be curious, be humble, be honest, be willing to act, have courage and eliminate bias. With these values being great for a business, it also occurred to me that these are values that can be integrated into our personal lives. Some ways I can apply this value is to be more caring for others and even simple tasks such as working out or homework. By becoming more caring, it is important to understand that everyone is unique with different viewpoints. Being empathetic is a great skill to work on in order to see issues through the perspective of peers.
The company’s purpose is to take its success and invest back into its people, which is what they were doing by bringing the interns to Alaska. The big values that stuck out for me were courage and curiosity. Without being curious, I would just stay stagnant and make no strides toward improving myself. Being curious doesn’t always mean you will act on your thoughts, so having the courage to act is also very important in becoming a better person or improving your business.
There were many activities that we all participated in throughout the week, such as kayaking with whale sightings, a short hike at Mt. Roberts, and an improvisation session that served as an icebreaker between the interns. These activities were great; however, there were two moments that were powerful and very moving for me personally. The first event that affected me was listening to our Sealaska hosts, Derik Frederiksen and Kirsten Henning, speak about their lives and their different career paths. Listening to Derik and Kirsten talk of their upbringing and what they went through to reach the points they are at currently provided me with a sense of relief. Derik’s path ranged from college, to a job in forestry, graduate school and even being a military consultant all before deciding to come work for Sealaska. This also touched on the fact that there is no right path in order to succeed, I learned from them that time isn’t the actual issue with succeeding in your own goals. The real problem is not having the drive to put in the effort in order to accomplish your goals.
The second event was listening to Tlingit traditional scholars David Katzeek and Paul Marks speak to us about various topics. Through David and Paul’s speech, I felt empowered, motivated and hopeful for my future and everyone else’s. David and Paul stated that we were all special and how important we really are. Without the belief in yourself, the motivation needed to conquer your problems will never come. After the speech was finished I left the building feeling much better than when I had first arrived. I occasionally catch myself worrying about my future when the only thing I can truly control is how hard I work and having belief in what I am doing.
I’ve also been making the habit of going out of my way to make others feel valued as individuals. As the great Kid President, a well known YouTube personality once said, “Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody.” Whether it be just saying hello to a stranger or asking someone how they are doing, the size of the gesture doesn’t particularly matter. You never truly know what someone is going through and being kind and considerate of others can go a long way. To make someone else feel important and special is vital in building their self-confidence. Not everyone is blessed enough to hear that they are important. The Sealaska internship has given me a new goal for my career: to gain a platform to tell others that they matter and that everyone has great potential already inside.