GVEA Sparks Careers

With the responsibility of maintaining 3,292 miles of transmission and distribution lines, 40 substations, and 9 generating facilities, GVEA works to hire and retain an exceptional workforce.

GVEA’s Member Services team are all smiles as they gather in front of the Fairbanks Member Services lobby.

The employees are known for their dedication—individually and collectively—to the nearly 100,000 residents in the communities they serve.

The Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) power system operates in Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Nenana, Healy and Cantwell and extends 48 miles along the Steese Highway, 11 miles on the Elliot Highway and 26 miles along Chena Hot Springs Road. The system is interconnected with Fort Wainwright, Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Greely, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and all the electric utilities in the Alaska Railbelt, extending from Homer to Fairbanks.

With more than 75 years in operation, the power generating cooperative emphasizes the importance of a diverse workforce that’s composed of employees who demonstrate the highest standards of safety, commitment and self motivation.

Learning About the Mechanisms of the Utility Service Industry Is Engaging

Kaylynn Tillet, Accountant II, enjoys the variety her position at GVEA offers.

Kaylynn Tillett, an accountant, is an example of someone discovering opportunities for learning and advancement at GVEA.

Born into a military family stationed at Fort Wainwright, Kaylynn spent her first 7 years in Fairbanks. The family moved when her father was called to serve elsewhere, but they returned to the area and settled in the city of North Pole when she was 10 or 11 years old.

The North Pole High School graduate opted to pursue an accounting degree from the UAF College of Business and Security Management. Kaylynn followed the role model of her father who has a finance background.

“I am good with numbers,” she adds.

She started working at Golden Valley immediately after her graduation from UAF.

“Everyone always needs electricity, so it’s a very stable place to work,” Kaylynn says.

She began in the billing department because, at the time, there was not a position open in the accounting department. After 18 months there, an accounting post became available. Through an internal GVEA training and mentoring program, Kaylynn received additional opportunities to develop skills and gain practical accounting experience.

“Utility accounting is a whole different skill set than standard training,” Kaylynn says.

While higher education students may pursue studies to specialize in fields such as tax accounting or auditing, she says that learning the specifics of utility services can only be learned on the job.

“I demonstrated that I was a reliable, quick learner—a valuable employee,” Kaylynn says.

After 2 years at GVEA, she achieved the position of Accountant I. About a year ago, she was promoted to Accountant II. “I started working on more complicated projects,” says Kaylynn, citing calculations on the cost of power as an example. “A few years ago, I wasn’t even aware that Golden Valley purchased power from other companies. So many details go into it. You’re not going to learn about that in an education or university setting.”

Working in an Industrial Setting Is an Eye Opener

Enigma Swan Adams, Control Systems Engineering student intern, is earning valuable, career-building knowledge at GVEA.

Enigma Swan Adams, Control Systems Engineering student intern for GVEA, just graduated with a degree in computer engineering from UAF. Enigma was born and raised in Fairbanks. Her first name comes from the fictional character in Mad magazine named Alfred E. Neuman—the “E” stands for “Enigma,” referring to a person who is a bit of a mystery.
While in college, she preferred digitally focused classes, such as combinational logic and computer architecture. One of her favorite class projects was making a simple microprocessor in VHDL hardware description language. Her degree combines electrical engineering and computer science.

Enigma heard about the internship opportunity while she was at UAF. GVEA representatives came to one of her classes and also conducted a roundtable presentation at the university.

“The internship is really interesting,” Enigma says. “I’ve never worked in an industrial setting and, wow, GVEA is enormous!”

She has gone to the different plants, including Healy several times. “Healy is one of a kind, which is super interesting,” she says.

Enigma is currently working on multiple projects, including updates and upgrades to plant controllers as well as network communications.

“We work closely with UAF’s College of Engineering and Mines, as they are recognized as the top engineering school in the state,” says GVEA Director of Human Resources Reagan Russell.

While GVEA does not have a formal internship program, the cooperative occasionally hires interns in areas that the co-op may have difficulty recruiting.

“Our interns are provided opportunities to work in specialty areas they may not be exposed to during their education,” Reagan says “Our ultimate goal is to attract and retain students for future employment with GVEA after graduation.”

“I like to learn new stuff, and there is no shortage of systems to learn here,” says Enigma. “While the logic is familiar, the industry specific software can be challenging to navigate.

“Simultaneously, it’s hard to be surprised, but then everything is a surprise,” she reflects. “It’s a cool opportunity. It’s really great to work in a place like this in my hometown.”

The GVEA Work Environment Also Pays Personal Dividends

“I really enjoy being an expert in what I do,” says the now 25-year- old Kaylynn. “Other people in the company know that they can come to me for assistance. I like helping people.”

The accounting department is about helping other divisions with the tools they need to effectively do their jobs.
Her experience at GVEA has also given her more professional confidence.

“When I was getting my accounting degree, I wasn’t envisioning that I would be in meetings with management or presenting information to the board of directors like I am now doing,” she says.

Kaylynn notes that GVEA has a lot of personal benefits as well. “We’re valued more on our output, rather than time put in,” she says.
Regarding her work/life balance, Kaylynn acknowledges, “I’m a nerd through and through.” For instance, she runs a weekly Dungeons and Dragons’ storytelling campaign.

“My coworkers are a fantastic group of people,” she says. “They are always helpful, especially when I first started out.”

She appreciates that no one was frustrated with her for asking questions when she was new to GVEA.

“They’re a very welcoming group of people,” says Kaylynn. GVEA offers an incredible workplace with exceptional benefits including health insurance, short-term and long-term disability, retirement plan/401(k), wellness benefits, an educational reimbursement program and generous paid leave. For current employment opportunities, visit our Careers page.