An Eye-Opening Internship
A student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Caitlin Vance was looking to try something new when she applied for an internship at Alaska Housing Finance Corporation in 2022.
“I’ve always known I wanted to help people,” she said. “My family influenced that in me and I grew up volunteering, but I didn’t necessarily know if I wanted to pursue housing services.”
Her internship experience ended up being a valuable learning opportunity that changed how she views herself as part of her wider community.
Finding Meaningful Work
“I thought when I started my internship that I’d mostly be showing people available units and that was part of it,” Caitlin said. “But I also interacted one-on-one with Alaskans going through stressful situations and tried to help them find a path forward to access safe housing.”
Caitlin was surprised to learn how many programs and resources AHFC offers and said she found the work personally meaningful. She cited programs like Step, which connects families to employment resources and helps them on their way to financial self-sufficiency.
“My birth mother experienced homelessness,” Caitlin said. “So seeing people go from unhoused to housed is a big deal to me. Getting to see families together and safely housed was very rewarding.”
Caitlin described how working in AHFC’s public housing properties showed her what an impact one individual’s work can have for Alaskans.
“Until my internship and talking to people who had faced homelessness, I didn’t realize all that could be done to help just by working at places like AHFC,” she said. “Everyone in the corporation plays a role in helping families become housed. It’s inspiring.”
Continuing to Learn
Caitlin felt she still had things to learn at Alaska Housing after her internship ended. She applied for a position as an asset technician and now works part-time in the public housing department, working closely with a property manager and a maintenance team to support the daily functions of a family housing property.
“I’m new to my role,” she said. “But it’s already taught me a lot about office skills and communication. I’ve learned to do every task to the best of my ability. Little things add up, even simple office tasks like filing and in the end those tasks have a cumulative impact for people.”
The Value of Internships
Caitlin is still discovering what she wants to pursue in her future, but regardless of the path she chooses, she believes that what she has learned at Alaska Housing will benefit her.
“My internship experience was eye-opening,” she said. “It made me ask myself what I could be doing to help my community. Even if I don’t pursue a career in housing services after college, I know that what I learned here will help me in my future.”
Speaking to potential interns, Caitlin said that her advice would be, “Just apply. You will get something out of the internship experience. If it doesn’t make you a better person, I’d be surprised.”
Looking for a career that makes an impact? View AHFC’s open job positions at ahfc.us.