Alaskan Internship Nets Hands-on Experience


Nick Akers, a Southeast Missouri State University senior, wants to clear up a few misconceptions about Anchorage, Alaska.

First, it’s not dark there all the time in the winter.  Second, people do not live in igloos in Anchorage.  Lastly, Anchorage is a fairly large city (almost 300,000 people), but it is different from most cities.  For example, it is not uncommon to see a moose in the middle of downtown Anchorage.      

Clearing up these misconceptions is important to Nick because Anchorage is the location of his internship.

“Living in Anchorage is awesome,” Nick said.  “The scenery is very beautiful, and there are tons of stuff to do here.  I love going skiing on my days off.”

His days are spent as an intern in the Health Promotion Department at BP Exploration Alaska working to design and implement health promotion programs for the employees in Anchorage, as well as Greater Prudhoe Bay.  He serves approximately 1,000 employees in Anchorage and about 2,000 on the North Slope.

Nick, who graduates this spring with a degree in health management with a health promotion option, is enjoying the opportunity for some hands-on experience. 

“It is great getting to apply the skills and knowledge that I have learned over the past years at Southeast to a real-life setting,” Nick said.  He noted that he especially enjoys working with program rollouts in the Greater Prudhoe Bay office.

Nick has been able to benefit from several other out-of-classroom experiences at Southeast as well. In summer 2004, Nick participated in a weeklong outdoor leadership class for credit.  He was able to go whitewater rafting, kayaking, hiking and rock climbing as part of the class.

He was also fortunate enough to have attended an American College of Sports Medicine conference in Kansas City with faculty and peers.

“It was a great learning experience,” Nick said.

The faculty does more than just attend conferences to help their students, though. 

“I had great relationships with most of my professors at Southeast,” Nick said, “especially the ones in my department.  They were always interested in helping out as much as they could, and very understanding with any problems you might be having.”

The key to success at Southeast, according to Nick, “is keeping yourself motivated and balancing your social life with school.  It is okay to go out and have fun. You just have to figure out for yourself how often you can go out and still get your work done.”

Nick found that balance with his fraternity, Sigma Chi. 

“Every Sunday, after our regular chapter meetings, a group of brothers would all go eat dinner together at a restaurant,” Nick said.  “We would pick a different restaurant every week.   It was always a lot of fun to talk about the crazy stories from the weekend.”

Nick also enjoyed going down to the river after classes on nice days or going downtown on the weekends.  Attending Southeast home baseball and football games were other favorite experiences.

Overall, Nick says he has enjoyed his experience at Southeast and says it has contributed to his success -- not to mention introducing him to Alaska.


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