15 October 2021

I was paid to go to my dream state: Alaska!

Written by: Alisson Vera

Working as a Communications Fellow for the National Park Service – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program has been amazing!

On a recent field visit, I was able to road trip all over Alaska, learning about how RTCA works with communities and all the projects that are being worked on or have been completed. I got to use my journalistic skills more than ever and it was so exciting.

I was able to visit Glenallen, Delta Junction, Homer, Anchorage, Valdez, McCarthy, Kennecott, and Whittier. Going late in the season allowed me to explore tourist spots with little crowds and much needed peace and quiet. I was also able to visit parts of Alaska that I never would’ve thought to had I come on just a personal trip. It was incredible to learn about how rural Alaskans deal with outdoor recreation and the obstacles that sometimes arise when trying to create safe open spaces.

I worked closely with the Alaska RTCA team and learned about what it’s like scouting for projects to work on and how they go about helping communities achieve their goals. Being able to meet with partners and sit in on community planning meetings was invaluable. I was also able to learn a lot about how government hiring works and what it’s like to be a federal employee for the long run from my coworkers in Alaska. It was a great opportunity to network and explore future career possibilities for myself.

Alaska has always been on my bucket list and when I was looking for positions, I passed up on a position for SCA because it didn’t really feel like it would contribute to my career growth. It was sad because it would have allowed me to live in Alaska for a few months. Then I found my current position and I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of being paid to do what I love in a state that I was dying to visit.

I think it’s really important, when looking for future positions, internships and fellowships, to look for things that you will enjoy. The appeal of the location or the small perks shouldn’t be the only deciding factors. When you’re doing what you love, you’ll be able to do it well and it’ll take you places you never would’ve guessed were possible.

Do what you love, the rest will follow.

Agency: National Park Service

Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)

Location: Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program - DC Field Office

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