Thinking About Doing an Internship?

If you’re thinking about applying to become an intern, I have some thoughts for you:

Do not make this decision lightly.

I don’t want to offer up a highlight reel of what was awesome, nor do I want to give you a patronizing view of what it’s like to do an incredible job that not many people get to do for 2 short months. I haven’t worked with an NGO for long enough to do that. However, my internship experiences with HCO have shaped me into the person that I am right now.

The best description for an internship in Haiti is this: You take one foot out of your home culture and put it into another culture in order to bridge the gap for the people around you.

When I look back at the people that I’ve met during the past two summers (interns & short-termers), and I examine my own time in Haiti, I come to this conclusion:

  1. You are probably not going to change someone’s life with one experience.
  2. Someone is probably not going to change your life with one experience.

But I thought going to a developing country and sharing the Gospel would make me into a better person? I thought working with “people less fortunate than me” would make me humble? I thought this would change my life?

Nah.

Working and living in Haiti guarantees none of that. Here’s what it does guarantee:

  1. Discomfort
  2. Difficulty
  3. Uncertainty

If those things sound awful to you, I’m glad that you are a rational-thinking human being. But please, don’t stop reading here.

I already told you that working in Haiti doesn’t guarantee you anything positive. If you are assuming that any internship will make you into a better Christian, a better Kingdom worker, a better person—stop.

Haiti doesn’t guarantee growth. Haiti gives you the environment to expand.

(And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.)

Here’s what I mean by my catchy phrasing: It’s not the experience that makes you grow, it’s how you incorporate that experience into your daily life after it’s over that makes you grow. It’s a conscious effort to be different after your internship. This is serious stuff. You are just as likely to be a prideful, patronizing, annoying, wannabe expat when you come home as you are to have a positive impact on your friends and family. It’s all about your mindset.

My intern experiences with HCO have shaped me into the person that I am. I’ve learned how to lead teams, how to interact with people I disagree with, how to adapt and operate in a cross-cultural context—not to mention the personal development and self-awareness that has come from my work in Haiti.

But none of that would have happened if it weren’t for the people surrounding me during the whole internship process.

I cannot stress this enough: in the months leading up to your internship, during your time in Haiti, during the readjustment phase after—make sure that you are surrounded by people who know more about ministry (and life) than you do. When you’re overwhelmed by the consumerism in the States, they’ll be there for you. When you’re upset that no one “gets you” anymore, they’ll be there for you. When you’re processing what the heck you just did for a whole summer, they’ll be there for you.

Do not expect this to be an easy experience; expect this to be an influential experience.

After reading all of that, if you don’t feel confident that you’re ready to do this, you’re probably right. You aren’t 100% ready.

But nobody is 100% ready to do something like this. Let me rephrase something I said earlier:

Haiti doesn’t guarantee growth. But in Haiti, God gives you the environment to expand. 

The single most important result of an internship in Haiti comes from God. When you say yes to an internship—when you step out in faith, God uses the people, places, and experiences around you to grow you. You just have to be willing to work with Him.

(And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.)


by Jonah Steele
Summer 2016 Lead Intern
Summer 2015 Intern
Student at Lincoln Christian University

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