By Ashana Armstrong,
Marine Biology and Environmental Science
Class of 2016
Something I always tell people about APU is that our students are really good at finding opportunity and going where it leads.
I know because I’m one of those students.
In the past few years, since I arrived on campus from Puyallup, Wash., my passion for marine biology and environmental science has taken me to Hawaii, around Alaska and as far away as Maine, where I earned academic credit in ornithology, gardens and greenhouses, and composting.
But this past summer was among my best yet.
In May, I noticed that Bering Strait Native Corp. was looking for interns. The program is aimed at business students interested in fields like accounting, information technology and human relations. The corporation wasn’t looking for science students, but I still hoped there’d be a place for me. My grandmother is a proud Yupik who grew up in the northwest Alaska villages of Golovin and White Mountain. My roots are in places served by BSNC.
At my internship interview, I learned that Bering Strait’s business development unit was venturing into a new subsidiary in environmental remediation. I was brought on to help with that.
My internship taught me business while I became immersed in the Native corporation overall. I learned more about my heritage. I attended very helpful workshops on leadership, public speaking and resume writing. I learned to build a spreadsheet that tracked a contract budget and helped save everyone involved a good chunk of money.
I met Alaska Native leaders, including longtime statesman Willie Hensley. I learned about the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. And I made new friends, including co-workers and other interns.
In five short months at Bering Strait Native Corp., I gained so much and made great professional connections. I’d encourage any APU student whose roots are in Alaska Native culture to look to their corporations for internships to help you learn real-world skills while you learn about yourself.