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Leigh Ripke, Ena Holding
Former Intern Works in Calista’s Real Estate Arm Before Graduating
Storyknife, Nov./Dec. 2019 edition
Leigh Ripke works at Ena Holding—Calista Corporation’s real estate holding line—as an Office Assistant, but her career with Calista began four years ago with her first internship.
Leigh was born in Bethel and raised in the Mat-Su Valley. Her mom is from Chefornak and her dad is from Oregon. Growing up, Leigh had the chance to visit her mom’s side of the family every other year in Chefornak.
She loves berry-picking with her grandparents and listening to her grandma’s stories that help guide her.
“I like to sit and have tea with my grandma while she talks about her past,” says Leigh. “My grandma’s stories tell me how to be and how to treat people so I can be a better me.”
Leigh’s favorite berries are the tundra blueberries because they taste more natural.
“People say the berries sold in the store are grown naturally, but the blueberries from the Region are wild and they just have more flavor,” Leigh says.
Internship at Yulista
Leigh is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Management at UAA. She has interned at Yulista Aviation—a Calista subsidiary—in Huntsville, Alabama for four years in a row.
“I’ve always had great colleagues and upper-management,” Leigh says. “I really like the company—they make me want to work for them.”
“So many employers want you to have experience, but how do you get that going to school full-time? These Calista internship opportunities are invaluable for building up your resume once you graduate.” – Leigh Ripke, Ena Holding Office Assistant & former Yulista Intern
Her internships at Yulista Aviation brought a new experience each year. Managers sought to form a well-rounded background for her by allowing her to work in different roles. Her first year was the most memorable and fulfilling. She started the internship as an undeclared college student, but the internship opened her eyes to the future.
“I had a great supervisor that I saw as a mentor,” Leigh says. “One day she asked me what I wanted to major in, but I didn’t know because nothing inspired me at the time. She asked me to look into a business major because it’s versatile and you can do a lot with it. Business was applicable at the time, and that experience helped solidify my major.”
Leigh gained a well-balanced view of Yulista’s operations through functions like budgets and inventory.
Gaining Real Experience
Leigh currently works at Ena Holding as an office assistant, but she’s gaining real estate experience from working on small projects with staff. Leigh has gained experience in researching property taxes and creating budgets.
“I’ve learned how to spend forecasted expenses using year-to-date expenses as a guide and creating real estate spreadsheets. These are things I don’t have prior experience with, but their guidance is helping me excel at it,” says Leigh. “I initially thought I’d just be running errands. It’s harder than expected, but I enjoy the challenges.”
In all her experiences, Leigh knows it will pay off in the long run.
“The most rewarding thing about the internships is that it lets you test drive a career,” Leigh says. “So many employers want you to have experience, but how do you get that going to school full-time? These Calista internship opportunities are invaluable for building up your resume once you graduate.”