When Kelsey Wallace sees an opportunity, she seizes it at full speed. During her senior year at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), she began working full-time as the public relations and marketing coordinator at the Alaska Native Heritage Center while maintaining full-time status at the college. Along with full-time school and her fulltime job, she volunteered her time through different organizations and continues to involve herself as much as possible within the Alaska Native community.
“It’s a really cool job,” said Kelsey. “I really like going out and letting people know about the things we are doing for Alaska Native people and visitors.”
Kelsey is passionate about working to promote her culture and benefit Alaska Native people. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in rural development with an indigenous organization concentration and a minor in the Yup’ik language from the University of Alaska
Fairbanks. Marketing may be her job but it wasn’t her major. While she certainly has a knack for it, it wasn’t until her internship at Calista that she discovered it could become a career.
“Internships really do play a crucial part in figuring out what you want to do,” said Kelsey.
Two years ago, Kelsey interned in the Communications Department at Calista and she credits her internship as one of the reasons for her success early in her career. She says her internship experiences helped her network and earn money for college. Unlike many internships, Calista interns are paid and receive a living stipend.
“My first internship with Calista was in Anchorage after my sophomore year in college and I was a broke college student. I didn’t have any money and I didn’t know how to balance money, school during the summer and work. The paid internship gave me a solid and comfortable feeling. I was able to learn in different capacities and not have to worry about paying rent or figuring out how I was going to pay for food,” said Kelsey.
While she just finished being an undergraduate college student herself, Kelsey has great advice for students. She encourages Youth to attend college or a post-secondary education program and seize every development and internship opportunity available.
“Taking advantage of opportunities for internships really sets you up for success and opens many doors,” said Kelsey. “You are networking with so many different people from so many different organizations.”
As she grows in her current position and learns more about the world of marketing, Kelsey is also looking ahead at the next opportunity. Her future plans include earning a master’s degree and someday soon opening a small business. Her small business idea caters to Alaska Native women, helping to improve their physical and mental well-being while incorporating traditional Alaska Native foods into developing nutritional meal plans.
Whatever her future holds, Kelsey knows it will be helping others and working to preserve her culture.
“I’m very grateful for the support I’ve had and I’m sure a lot of students are, too. With funding through scholarships and internships it really gives us the opportunity to put ourselves out there and I know the experience and networking are important and very beneficial.”