Overworked? Drained? Kill Five Birds With One Stone

October 9, 2008 by

At one point in the not-too-distant past, my part-time communications position (which is now full-time) got so un-part-time, that I started keeping track of my hours, determined to show my supervisor how crazy it had become. My life felt like it was going by fast—too fast. Some days, I was so scattered, I felt like I was unable to complete simple tasks, let alone full-out design and marketing concepts. I felt completely drained of any creative ability whatsoever.

Then one day, someone said a word that would change my existence. That word was “intern.” She had a contact who was a marketing professor at a local college. Long story short, I made that professor my contact and begin talking internships. After a very short wait and interview process, I had selected a candidate. I thought my biggest hurdle would be convincing my supervisors that it was a good thing to “hire” someone who isn’t a Christian (gasp, I know). The staff at our church is great. Everyone was 100% on board.

Five benefits of an intern:

  1. Investment: Investing in another human being, whether it be spiritually, professionally or personally, is one of the single most rewarding things you can do with your life.
  2. Perspective: No matter where your intern is on his spiritual journey, he brings an incredible outsider’s perspective. No more sitting around tables trying to guess what a non-believer or non-member thinks, just go ask! My favorite question for our intern is, “Is this weird?” A general outsider’s perspective is also great for finding mistakes and noticing things you miss because you see it daily.
  3. Energy/Passion: If your intern is passionate about his field, it will rub off on any staff member he comes in contact with, including you. When I saw how excited he was, I remembered why I love this line of work. My creativity shot through the roof. I was proud of my work again.
  4. Shake-Up: Your staff, if in their own Christian bubbles, will be forced into communication with someone who has a different lifestyle and/or background than them. That cannot be bad, any way you slice it. Suddenly, the staff are looking at their ministries through a whole new filter.
  5. Workload: This is a no-brainer, but you will be able to push some things off of your plate once your intern is established and comfortable.

My original motivation was selfish: “How can I use this person to make my life easier?” The ending result and impact on our team far outweighs any benefit for me. We aren’t done yet, but I have a feeling he is going to teach us more than we could ever teach him. He already has.

E-mail your local colleges and see if you can get on their job boards for next semester. And, no, it is not OK to ask for Christian applicants only.

Post By:

Danielle Hartland

Danielle Hartland is the director of communications at Grace Church in Erie, Penn., where her goal is to create and foster accessible communication strategies that cut through without cutting in. You can find her fastest on Twitter: @daniellesuzanne.
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9 Responses to “Overworked? Drained? Kill Five Birds With One Stone”

  • Paul Carlson
    October 9, 2008

    Love it.
    This inspires me.

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  • Danielle
    October 9, 2008

    I’m glad, Paul. It really is worth it. Let me know how it goes if you decide to walk down this road.

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  • Anthony N
    October 9, 2008

    Great post! I have also been in the same situation…an alternative would be finding a part-timer who can take up additional work loads. Shadowing an existing employee may save you time and money.
    I too have felt the “life going by too fast” and “scattered feeling.”
    Thanks for the insight to a great post.

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  • Danielle Hartland
    October 9, 2008

    I’m glad, Paul. It really is worth it. Let me know how it goes if you decide to walk down this road.

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  • aaron lundberg
    October 9, 2008

    It sounds like Danielle comes from a pretty amazing church.

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  • Heather
    October 9, 2008

    I REALLY want to email this to our leaders on staff, but I don’t see an option to email? Is there one? Thanks!

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  • Molly
    October 9, 2008

    Great article, Danielle. And good things to think through. I know that you will be a good mentor/teacher to your intern and that he will learn much from you.

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    October 10, 2008

    Sorry Heather, no ‘e-mail this’ feature (or print this or Digg this or whatever verb you want). But ye olde ‘copy & paste’ works pretty well. ;-)

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  • chuck
    October 12, 2008

    i love this site…
    thank you for being forward thinking enough (you and your staff) to be able to bring in someone who isn’t “Christian.” I have worked on and around church staff for almost 10 years. every staff should have a “token non-Christian” (i don’t mean that in a demeaning way) to bounce ideas off of…

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