Tununak Shareholder: To Find Best Life, Listen to Heart
Calista internships and seasonal work for Donlin Gold supported Thomas Albert’s career goals and subsistence lifestyle
June 23, 2020 | Adapted from 2019 Annual Report to Shareholders
Thomas Albert grew up in Tununak enjoying a subsistence lifestyle of hunting for seal and geese with his father Felix.
He listened to stories about his grandfather Paul Albert who served in the military, owned his own business, and was a community leader. As he grew older, the stories motivated Thomas to think about his own future.
Thomas liked working on engines. After searching online for the best-paying “mechanic” job, he ended up enrolling at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2009 to become a mechanical engineer.
Over time, however, he began to explore career opportunities—with Calista and Donlin Gold—which took him down a different academic path, into construction management.
Thomas has worked multiple seasons at Donlin Gold’s field camp, mentored by experienced Shareholder employees including Evan Polty, Jr., Peter “Boise” Alexie, and the late Wassillie Gregory. The paychecks have helped with college bills and supporting his family in Tununak.
In 2014, a year after Calista acquired STG Inc., Thomas was selected as STG’s first Calista intern and traveled to Emmonak to work on a tank farm project.
One of his favorite memories of Emmonak was the instruction he received from an STG superintendent. “He would tell me to get out of the office to see how things are done. He’d say, you’ve got to be the first one out there and get things ready—30 minutes before the workers came.”
Thomas interned with additional Calista subsidiaries—Tunista Construction and STG Pacific—that allowed him to work on construction projects around Alaska, including a bridge project for the Coast Guard in Kodiak, and other projects the Lower 48.
The internships spurred his current interest in vertical construction. He hopes to join future projects on military bases and wherever else help is needed. But right now—thanks to urging from some of his mentors—he is focused on completing and graduating from UAF in the fall with a degree in construction management.
“I want to be the best project and construction manager that I can, putting a great team together.”Thomas Albert
His career interests have not diminished his love of hunting. This spring, after school ended, Thomas returned to Tununak and gathered a lot of subsistence food for his parents.
Thomas encourages other Calista Shareholders to listen to their hearts and try the things that sound interesting to them.
“If you go to college and you don’t like it, or it’s not for you, don’t stop right there. Pick up an application and try for training and see if you like it. It’s all about getting out there, trying and seeing what you want to do. Don’t sit at home waiting to see what comes to you.”