Summer Interns Tell Their Stories

Love a good missionary story? The kind with language learning leaps, surprising friendships, and cross-cultural workers serving side-by-side with local Christians in other countries? But you probably also know that serving in missions isn’t just for those who go to the ends of the earth. It’s also for those who “hold the ropes,” the people who make sure the bills get paid and that people are taken care of, for example.

Donors and prayer supporters make the mission possible. And mission agency staff play crucial roles too. They do everything from graphic design and grant writing, tech support and hospitality to recruitment, coaching and training. Pioneers has an office full of people who do such jobs with passion and excellence.

Enter the Interns

These days, we also offer internships for university students and any upcoming professional seeking experience in these fields. Many need internship credits for school. They also want to gain experience and develop professional skills to use later on. Some may even be thinking about working for a mission agency in some capacity or another.

Interns bring skills, energy and fresh perspective to tasks that might never get done without them. That was certainly the case with the five interns who worked at our U.S. headquarters for ten weeks this summer. We invited them to use and develop their professional skills, get a bigger picture of missions and participate in our Christ-centered community.

As their internships wrapped up, we sat down with a few of them to see what it was like.

Meet Jessie, Digital Marketing Intern

Jessie - Pioneers intern

What she did

Jessie, a marketing major, worked with our digital marketing coordinator to create, test and carry out digital communication projects. She put together a massive database of our most helpful web content and helped launch a couple of online hubs to share it. Coming into the internship, Jessie didn’t expect to be building web pages. But it turned out she loved doing it.

Why she came

Jessie didn’t have far to come; she lives in Orlando. And though she applied to an out-of-state internship, too, she liked the idea of spending the summer working with a Christian nonprofit in her hometown.

What she experienced

The internship was a great experience for Jessie. She loved working with a team, learning how to solve problems and being able to tackle big projects on her own using tools she had never heard of before the internship. The team took her in. “It’s crazy how quickly the team felt like family and how comfortable we were,” she said. “That was half the fun, that we could talk to you guys about anything.”

Another of Jessie’s favorite parts of the internship was having lunch one-on-one with Koko, a former missionary who serves in the U.S. office. Each of the interns had meetings like that. Koko shared her life story and answered Jessie’s questions about missions. “I was very inspired,” says Jessie. “And with Pioneers in general… seeing people who are passionate and want to learn more was really cool.”

What she learned

Jessie is full of ideas and realized that’s a great strength to bring to a team. She also saw that she needs other people to help make these ideas work. Jessie was amazed how much she was able to learn over ten weeks, something she hopes to continue. Echoing words she heard regularly from her internship supervisor, she says: If you find things that grab your interest, dive in. Don’t be afraid to seek out opportunities. Look for ways to learn new skills and get experience using them, whether that’s a formal job or just helping out a friend.

“Do I have a willing heart to do whatever He calls me to?”

Oh, get this: One of Jessie’s secret fears coming into the internship was that Pioneers was going to try to “make her into a missionary.” And let’s be honest, we’d love to see these interns choose that path. But we wouldn’t want them to feel pressured. As Jessie discovered, the more important question is how God is leading. Interacting with Pioneers staff and hearing about their experiences, Jessie asked herself, “Do I have a willing heart to do whatever He calls me to?”

“I’ve been amazed and reminded that God is a global God and is working everywhere. And also that I can be a part of that, and should take part in that and just have a willing heart to steer my life whatever way He pleases.”

Awesome. Amen.

Meet Annie, Video Production Intern

What she did

Annie, who studies communications at her university, served as a production assistant for our video team. She joined the other video producers in conversations about possible projects. She worked on storyboarding and script writing. And Annie also learned to set up and operate lights, cameras and audio equipment. For one project, Annie’s team built a whole set, from building plywood walls to picking out wallpaper and collecting furniture and props.

With Annie’s help, the team was able to create four videos for a mission conference, multiple Instagram reels, and a series of ten videos to go with a soon-to-be-published book by Pioneers-USA President Steve Richardson.

Annie didn’t just learn about video production, she did it. “I was able to be super hands-on, which was cool,” she says. “I felt like what I was doing mattered.”

Why she came

Like Jessie, Annie was already looking for internship opportunities when she found this one. Her parents work for Pioneers in Europe. They had heard about our intern program and suggested she apply. But coming by herself from out of state was daunting. Of course, she knew some people in the office already, and that helped. By the end of the internship, she knew many more.

What she experienced

Annie says that stepping out into the unknown made her more aware of God’s presence. It was her first summer on her own, away from family. “I bought my ticket not knowing how I was going to get around because I don’t have a car. And then living with a host family I didn’t know, it was a lot of uncertainty. Now that it’s almost over, I can be like, ‘wow, I actually did that, that’s crazy.’ I just got closer to God this summer through those moments of uncertainty.”

“And everyone at the office has shown me such love, such generosity and grace,” she adds. “I’ve definitely seen God’s character through every single person I’ve interacted with.”

What she learned

Like Jessie, Annie learned some important things about herself through being an intern. She discovered how much it helps her to be structured and organized. A teammate was really helpful with that. Every time they had a task to work on, she sent Annie a calendar invite. Having clear goals and schedules made a big difference. And Annie says it will help her this next school year.

This experience may also affect what type of work environment Annie will seek out in the future. “I’ve learned that I need to be in a social environment. This summer has been great that way, being in the office, always having people around I can ask questions, have a conversation with, or get lunch with. It gives me so much energy.”

“I learned more about missions these past 10 weeks than the past 10 years.”

You might think that growing up in a missionary family would mean Annie would have less to learn about missions, and about Pioneers, than the other interns. But she says this is not the case.  “Even though I grew up on the mission field, I somehow learned more about missions these past 10 weeks than the past 10 years. So cool!”

And what’s next? Annie is grateful she learned practical skills she can use as she steps into a leadership role on the media team at her university. “Coming in I had no ideas what anything was called and how to set it up,” she Annie. “Now they can say, go put up the light, and I put it up. I feel so much more qualified now than I did before. I don’t even know how I got around not knowing what I know now!”

Interested in an Internship?

  • Our Orlando Internships page will be updated each fall. We’ll start recruiting for 2023 summer interns in October and are excited to see who God will bring our way.
  • Looking for an international internship? We have those too. Many of the young adults who serve with our Edge program get internship credit for their participation. Edge opportunities for 2023 are listed on our website.

Stories from the pursuit

Finding Faith on the Internet

Read what happened when a North African man looking for grace and freedom connected with a local believer who could help. It all started with a search online.

Join the “Couriers” Who Pray for Missions

Let prayer take you where your feet can't go. Couriers come alongside our missionaries daily to carry their needs to the Father through prayer.

Is the Commission Still Great?

In his new book, Pioneers-USA Steve Richardson uses stories from Scripture, history and his own ministry experience to wrestle with questions about modern missions.