Dordt College News

Summer internships

December 2, 2013

Summer is the perfect time for internships. Students are looking for a change of pace, and companies and organizations gear up to provide opportunities that will benefit them and their interns.

This summer, dozens of Dordt students interned for companies, churches, and organizations around the country and the world. They worked with organizations like YouthWorks in Kansas City, Missouri; Cargill in Manitoba; Maguire Iron in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; South Valley Community Church in Lemoore, California; and many more.

Students learn about internship opportunities from professors, parents, Dordt’s Career Center, or the Internet. Sometimes it takes concentrated and persistent digging to find an opportunity that fits their gifts and interests. Sometimes an internship almost seems to “fall into their laps.” The Alumni Office tries to make the process smoother by pointing them to alumni willing and eager to house them and provide a home away from home.

The real-world experience that students gain from internships is invaluable and often leads to full-time employment.

“The value of internships is that students not only gain valuable work experience, but they experience the complex culture of a company or organization, which often stretches them beyond their discipline but not always in ways they expect,” says Ethan Brue, professor of engineering at Dordt College. “They often learn how much more there is to learn. They also learn that it is no simple task to seek to serve as a Christ-follower in the world.”

The interns

Giovanna Romero Sarubbi
Media intern, HCJB Global

“Would I be willing to spend a summer interning in New Zealand?” Giovanna “Giovi” Romero Sarubbi asked herself when the opportunity arose to intern with HCJB Global. HCJB Global is an organization that integrates media and healthcare ministries. Vero Visser, a Dordt alumna, had interned for the organization at the London 2012 Olympics and suggested that Romero Sarubbi might be interested.

“I did some research and prayed about it, and the next thing I know, I was going to New Zealand,” said Romero Sarubbi.

In Auckland, New Zealand, she participated in “First Fruits,” a program, according to an article that Romero Sarubbi wrote for the organization, to “encourage the production of quality, cutting-edge programs with a gospel message that appeal to an unchurched audience.” She and three other media interns spent much of their time live streaming and filming. 

During the eight-week internship, Romero Sarubbi and her team members produced three videos that were posted online. They also worked on an online radio station. Sometimes the tasks were daunting, especially as Romero Sarubbi was new to video production.

“This was my first time filming and editing videos,” she said. “Sometimes, it was challenging, but I worked with awesome interns and learned a lot from them.”

A communication major from Paraguay, Romero Sarubbi liked learning how media can be used to do missions.

“I ended up doing work related more to digital media than communications,” said Romero Sarubbi. “I feel that God ignited in me a new passion for video production and doing missions with media. So I am excited to see where he is going to take me with that.”

Romero Sarubbi also enjoyed seeing the gorgeous landscape of New Zealand.

“The landscape is so beautiful,” she said. “I love the mountains, going hiking, and going to the beach. It reminded me every second of God’s sovereignty and power over his creation.”

“I would recommend a summer intership to anyone, and if they feel God is calling them there, go for it and do it,” she said.

Dustin Douma
Business intern, Helena Brewers

Dustin Douma, a junior sports management major of Sioux Center, interned with the Helena Brewers, a minor league baseball team in Helena, Montana. Morgan Halpert (’11), a former Dordt baseball player who works for the Brewers, was looking for a possible Dordt student for the internship.

“Before the season started, most of my work consisted of sales, including a lot of cold calling,” said Douma. “I was calling about group outings, picnics, and possible season ticket holders.”

Cold calling was, according to Douma, a struggle.

“At first it was uncomfortable, and I was not very good at it,” said Douma. But, with practice, he got better.

“A lot more goes into cold calling than most people understand. You have to have a plan and a way to meet the customer’s wants and needs.”

Once game days arrived, Douma’s job changed. He’d start at 9 a.m. and not leave the ball park until 11 p.m. Each game day was like opening day; “It was all about the fans’ experience,” said Douma.

He was responsible for getting the merchandise shop ready, setting up the ATM machine, raising the flags, getting the programs ready, and delivering items to the clubhouse. He was also in charge of the "Brewers for a Day" program, which gave one fan the opportunity to sit in the Brewer dugout during the game.

Creativity, according to Douma, “is vital in minor league baseball. It’s all about getting the fans inside the gates and giving them the best experience possible. Promotions like “Hillbilly Horseshoes,” where contestants threw toilet seats around a plunger handle to win prizes, were big hits with the crowd.

Douma said he learned “a lot about how minor league baseball teams operate and all the things that go on behind the scenes that fans do not see.” 

Hayley Dahl
Graphic design intern, DKY Integrated Marketing

Dahl spent her summer working for DKY, a small advertising company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“My major is graphic design, so my dad thought it would be a good idea for me to get firsthand experience,” she said. “How could I say no to that?”

“I worked on the production side of the business at DKY,” she said, “putting details together or making changes to brochures, short videos, images, business cards, websites, and countless other advertising materials.” She worked on marketing materials for companies like Winnebago and Toro. 

It took some time for Dahl to become fully proficient in programs like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, but, as she worked on more projects, she learned more functions and became more confident.

“Each new assignment honed my abilities as a graphic designer,” she said.

She appreciated her welcoming and helpful co-workers at DKY.

“The cool thing about a small business is that it feels more like a family,” she said. “Each employee was eager to help me learn.”

Calvin Leader
Lab intern, Johns Hopkins

Calvin Leader interned as a software developer for Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Maryland.

“My main job was making data visualizations to show basic users who don’t know a lot about networks or other computer concepts what is going on in their network.”

The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins does a wide variety of other research projects, but Leader and two other interns were assigned to a group of 23 full-time employees who program such data visualizations.

“I liked the atmosphere at Johns Hopkins,” said Leader, a senior. “They really want to help people out.”

And, as he said, he “learned a lot about computer science and programming languages.”

“Before this, I was never in a setting where I was with a bunch of programmers working on developing software together,” said the computer science major from Crofton, Nebraska. In the classroom, students are often working on their own projects. “Here, it was a collaborative effort.”

What surprised Leader was how much fun the people he worked with had at work. They planned themed events such as a day where employees dressed up as superheroes.

“On that day, we all went outside for an ice cream social, and then two of my co-workers and I were in a three-legged race. And we won!” said Leader. “We got Dunkin’ Donuts coffee the following week.”

The main struggles Leader encountered in his internship were “the typical things that go along with computer programming.”

“There are always problems when you’re writing code,” said Leader. “You run into a problem, and you say, ‘OK, how am I going to fix this?’ The employees at Johns Hopkins are so helpful that they’ll help you with a problem without just writing the code for you.”

Leader’s internship came through Dordt alumnus Ken Verbrugge (’69), a project leader in the APL lab. At the end of the summer, Leader’ s supervisor told Verbrugge, “Thanks for finding Calvin for me. I could use more of this type of person. Whatever Calvin was assigned to do, he accomplished quickly with limited supervision. Calvin was capable of learning what he needed if he did not already know it.”

Jonathan De Graaf
Engineering intern, Iowa Department Of Transportation

Jonathan De Graaf, a junior engineering major from Marshall, Minnesota, learned about asphalt this summer. Interning for the Iowa Department of Transportation, he took samples of asphalt, helped pour asphalt, and found that he liked working with asphalt.

De Graaf’s crew spent several weeks doing full-depth patching, removing old asphalt and filling back in with new. They also did cold-in-place recycling, where the current road surface is crushed, mixed with asphalt, and then reused on the same road.

“A large part of my job was to read the plans and make sure that what the engineer had designed was actually happening on the road,” he said. For example, he had to make sure that the cold-in-place recycling stopped before a bridge if the engineer had so indicated.

De Graaf was given a 1,600-page book of rules to follow and admits that confronting workers about rules wasn’t something he particularly enjoyed.

“There were strict rules that some felt they didn’t have to follow. For example, you’re supposed to wear a safety vest when you’re outside,” he said. “Some would say, ‘But I’m on the paver. Do I still have to wear one?’ It’s the law, so they have to.”

The scariest part about the internship, according to De Graaf, was the drivers on the road. They’re often watching the construction rather than the road and don’t notice that the car ahead may have slowed down or that a worker is in their lane. They sometimes drift into the construction zone, and workers aren’t always able to pay full attention to traffic.

Drivers on cell phones are especially dangerous, he says.

Despite the dangers, De Graaf hopes to work in the field once he graduates.

Michael Jansen
Intern, Center for Public Justice

Dordt Senior Michael Jansen was familiar with the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) in Washington, D.C.; his mother, Gail Jansen (’74), had been on the organization’s board several times. But, it wasn’t until Michael Gerson, a Washington Post writer and CPJ supporter, came to Dordt’s campus for the First Mondays Speaker Series in April that Jansen decided to apply for an internship there.

Jansen spent much of his time drafting a history of the organization.

“I did online research and talked to former and current patrons to gauge what themes should be highlighted,” he said. He also made recommendations about what to include on CPJ’s website, which is currently being redesigned.
Jansen and four other interns also met once a week to talk about assigned books and to discuss justice issues and current events.”

"They had us read books such as Church, State, and Public Justice, which gives five Christian perspectives on the church and the state and how they should or shouldn’t be intertwined. The five of us represented five perspectives,” he said. The discussions led to lively and sometimes heated conversation, and became one of his favorite parts of the experience.

“Being exposed to different perspectives, being challenged politically and religiously was good,” said Jansen. “I don’t think you learn things by being surrounded by people who agree with you. Despite our differences, we got along well.”

Jansen attended events at organizations such as the Brookings Institute, met regularly and talked with CPJ CEO Stephanie Sommers, and wrote an article titled “Citizens, Saints, and Patriots” for, an online CPJ  journal.

“The family I lived with had kids under 10 and were a blessing to me,” said Jansen. “They invited me to go on a 4th of July boat ride on the Potomac River and watch fireworks from Capitol Hill, which was really cool.”
Jansen’s CPJ internship helped sharpen and challenge his beliefs. He appreciated CPJ’s perspective that Christians need to pay attention to politics.

“For CPJ, government isn’t just a result of the fall, and it’s not the enemy,” said Jansen. “They focus on how you can get involved in politics and use your Christian worldview in that sphere of life. It’s not about withdrawing from the public sphere but engaging in it and working out of a Christian worldview.”

Jansen hopes to pursue graduate work in international relations or intelligence, and politics will definitely remain a mainstay in his life.

“Washington is more polarized than it’s ever been, and I think people are too,” said Jansen. “That can be frustrating, when little gets done. I see a need for divisions to be reconciled. I don’t know what that looks like going forward, but I’d like to be part of it.”

Austin Katje
Accounting intern, iBusiness Solutions

Austin Katje, an accounting major from Orange City, Iowa, had never lived outside of Sioux County before this summer, so he jumped at the opportunity to move to the Twin Cities to intern at iBusiness Solutions, an information technology organization founded by Dordt Alumnus Tim Brands (’90).

“I did accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and quite a bit of tax stuff every week, as well as monthly and quarterly entries,” said Katje.

In a small business like iSolutions, there wasn’t always eight hours of accounting work to do every day. Katje also worked with marketing, helping move to a new logo and adding new fonts to the company’s documents and letterheads. One week, when his supervisor was gone, he “was” the accounting department.

Katje lived with Dordt alumni during his internship this summer. “I was incredibly blessed to have met the Groenewegs,” he said. “They treated me like I was their son.”

“It was my first real professional job,” Katje said. “I learned that communication and being able to ask questions are really important.” He found that his supervisor and co-workers were valuable resources and were eager to help him.

“I’m definitely grateful for the experience I had,” he said.


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