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Alaska Permanent Fund: More than just a yearly check

Trevor Allred

As an Alaska resident for the last 16 years, I have received my yearly Permanent Fund Dividend check, deposited it, and not given it much thought. Recently however, I have realized that the Alaska Permanent Fund is much more than just a dividend check and the corporation behind it.

The Alaska Permanent Fund was established in 1976 and is funded by a 25-percent tax on proceeds from the state’s oil and mineral development. These revenues are set aside in the Permanent Fund to continue benefitting current and future generations of Alaskans. Due to sound investment management, the fund has grown to nearly $41 billion in the last 36 years.

Starting in 1982, the fund began paying an annual dividend to every Alaska resident. The first check was for $1,000, and dividends have been anywhere from $331 to $2,069. Most recently, in 2011, the Permanent Fund paid out $1,174 to each and every resident. Many residents look to the yearly check as an extra source of income. Personally, I count on the dividend check to aid in paying for my education.

The Permanent Fund became much more than just a check to me last year when I was introduced to the Permanent Fund Internship Program through a high school baseball coach. As a college upperclassman, internships in your field of study are extremely important for post-graduation career development, and often necessary to fulfill graduation requirements.

The Permanent Fund Corporation coordinates a summer internship program that brings together participating managers of the Permanent Fund and Alaska students or Alaska residents studying outside of the state. The internships are not just limited to Anchorage or Juneau. In 2011, the Permanent Fund Corporation hired two interns and partnered with Rogge Global (New York), RMC Capital Management (San Francisco), McKinley Capital Management (Anchorage), L& B Realty Advisors (Dallas), GE Asset Management (Stamford), Crestline Investors (Fort Worth), and Alaska Permanent Capital Management (Anchorage). Each one of these companies employed an intern who was hired through the Permanent Fund Internship program.

After being introduced to the program and shown the Permanent Fund Internship website, I focused on the two Anchorage internships and began the application process in January. After getting to the interview stage with both companies, I was offered the position at Alaska Permanent Capital Management. I am currently two months into my internship and my experience so far has been incredible. Every day I am exposed to a wealth of knowledge as I work with investment professionals. I get to expand on my classroom education and participate in real world investment and finance decisions.

I am currently working on multiple projects including a Best Execution project and a TIPS study. The Best Execution project is basically a self-audit on a random sample of trades to confirm that trades executed for the client were done at the best price. The TIPS project is a research study into what economic factors drive the performance of Treasury Inflated Protected Securities. In addition to these projects, I sit in on weekly investment strategy meetings and assist on the trading floor in a number of ways. I have attended several client meetings including the two day meeting of the Permanent Fund board of directors in May.

This hands-on experience has expanded my education beyond the classroom and I will look to take my new knowledge of the investment world into the final year of my undergraduate education at the University of Dallas. My experience this summer has shown me that the Permanent Fund Dividend and Internship programs really are benefitting Alaskans.

Trevor Allred graduated from South Anchorage High School in 2008. He is a senior at the University of Dallas, majoring in Economics and Finance with a minor in Business.

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch. Alaska Dispatch welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, e-mail commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.