Former RAISE Intern Shares Story of Growth

Riley Stewman, Public Relations Assistant and former RAISE intern. (Photo Credit: Heather Stewman)

I started out in Southcentral Foundation’s RAISE program in 2011, when I was 14 years old. My three older siblings, all previous RAISE Interns, encouraged me to participate. They told me how exciting and what a privilege it was to have a job at SCF as well as to have the opportunity to meet a lot of other students. So, I took advantage of all the program had to offer including experiencing what it is like to have a real job, learning how to provide good customer service to people, and working professionally on a team.

The goal of RAISE is to help Alaska Native youth grow and begin the next steps in their education and professional training. The internship is offered every summer (14 to 19-year-olds are eligible to apply), during the academic year for high school juniors or seniors, and as a year-long graduate internship for recent graduates entering their first year of college. During my time in the graduate program, I started my first year of college at the University of Alaska Anchorage where I am currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. When I completed the graduate program this past summer, I was hired as a full-time employee as a public relations assistant.

My first year as a RAISE intern, I learned how to talk to customers, conduct myself professionally in the work environment, and work in a team setting. In the beginning, I learned about the C.A.R.E. (Connect, Appreciate, Respond, Empower) standards that SCF employees follow when assisting customer-owners. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work at booths in the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, which allowed me to interact directly with customer-owners. Not only did this provide me with experience in teamwork, as my group handed-out food and fliers to customers, but it also gave me the opportunity to experience customer service using the C.A.R.E. standards and learn about effective communication.

I participated again the following summer, and in this rotation, I worked outside with my group for most of the summer. We worked with two gentlemen who worked for the city’s parks, pulling invasive weeds around Anchorage that were endangering wildlife.

In the summer of 2015, I re-joined the program as a college and careers intern. In this group, we toured UAA and learned about the Native Student Services to see what they offered to Alaska Native/American Indian students. Additionally, I had the privilege to work in facilities for my worksite. About a month and a half after the summer program ended, I joined the graduate program.

The RAISE program offered to graduates is specifically targeted to recent high school graduates who are starting their first year of college. It has many great benefits: first, it provides you with a full-time job while attending school; secondly, RAISE pays the tuition for two classes, and their required books (even better, you are allowed to attend classes during the workday without having to take time off or lose pay); thirdly, since program seats are limited, there is greater access to departments, which gives interns the opportunity to experience work in the field most closely related to their career interests.

At the end of the RAISE program, I took advantage of an opportunity to transition from an intern to a full-time employee by applying for a position in the Public Relations Department. SCF promotes education and provides academic benefits to full-time employees who wish to pursue or continue on with their degrees. The benefit provides scholarship opportunities and academic leave for school so employees may continue their education while working full time.

I am currently in my second year at UAA, on track to graduate in 2020. I have first-hand knowledge that working full-time and going to school is not easy. Every day is a battle to wake up early to go to work and school, on top of the late nights of doing homework and studying. Making the time to study is a must; it comes with sacrifices, but in the end, all of the hard work and sacrifice pays off. I am thankful to have been a part of RAISE; it helped me be a better student and taught me to always work hard at anything that I do. I would highly recommend RAISE to any teenager who wants the opportunity to experience the real work world.

If you are between the ages of 14 and 19 and are interested in joining the RAISE Program, apply online by  clicking here.

by Riley Stewman

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