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Episode 54: The Definitive Conversation On Internships

May 08, 2018

Episode 54: The Definitive Conversation On Internships

Lisa unpacks her core beliefs in leading a great internship program. If you have volunteers in proximity to your efforts – you can’t afford to miss this convo.

EPISODE RESOURCES

GO DEEP INTO THE DIMES DROPPED, CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER, AND CHECK OUT THE LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  1. Twitter: @misslisabeee
  2. Instagram: @misslisabeee
  3. Instagram: @sbinternships
  4. Email: intern@Saddleback.com

Episode Quotable

Grab your reading glasses and download the PDF here.

Episode 54 Transcript

Mingo Palacios:

Hello and welcome to the PD Podcast where we dialogue with some of today’s most insightful ministry leaders on topics relevant to the next generation. I’m Mingo Palacios, your host and Pastor of Evangelism in Culture at Saddleback Church. Every episode you’ll meet a future focus leader who’s changing the face of ministry from millennials by simply observing the past. It’s our hope that these conversations challenge you to dream bigger, lead better, and intentionally make time to honor those who let us stand on their shoulders. Thanks for joining us.

Mingo Palacios:

Welcome to the Purpose Driven Podcast. My name is Mingo and today we are at Catalyst Conference. For the last two days, we have had a monstrous amount of incredible conversations all wrapped around being better leaders and this conversation is no different. I had the lovely Lisa Bee from Saddleback Church in on our podcast. Lisa is the director, the coordinator, the master, the strategist extraordinaire for all interns at Saddleback Church. And this is such a necessary conversation for people because at the heart of a great internships is the desire to love people greatly. And sometimes organizations don’t get that. They don’t practice that, they say it, it’s on their card, but by methodology they really miss and so me and Elisa collectively have worked together. We actually have a PD podcast intern live who has been with us over the last several months. So Lisa, what you have to bring to the table for our audience is so valuable mainly because people are at the baseline of every internship experience and we can’t afford to mess that up. So thanks for being on our show today.

Lisa Bee:

Thanks for having me.

Mingo Palacios:

And for our listeners, Lisa is a seasoned podcaster. She’s run episodes galore. Actually, this is her very first recording. So, we’re just so thankful that you said yes. And I’m certain that in this conversation there will be listeners who will rethink the way they engage with their volunteers and their interns. So, Lisa, why don’t you give us just a high level overview of what it means to manage or what you look for when you are crafting an internship experience for our listeners who may have the same responsibility?

Lisa Bee:

Yeah. Well, I always actually like to start with the “why?” Why do we have an internship program? Why is it important? First, you know, for us at Saddleback, we are a teaching and training church. We are so passionate about developing leaders. I think our really cool thing about our program is that we aren’t just passionate about developing pastors and helping people who want to go into vocational ministry, but we’re passionate about developing leaders wherever God is calling them. So that could be the medical field, the arts and media, the business world. But, you know, the why, which never changes, the what changes, the how changes, but the why behind our internship program is that when you look at the world today, man, we are just in desperate need of godly, effective leadership and it’s the church’s responsibility to do that, to be pouring into leaders. And so that’s really a kind of the heart behind our program. The motto of our Church, the mission of our church can really be summed up through the phrase, “Bring them in, build them up, train them for, and then send them out.” So we’re sending out ministry and it’s just exciting to be part of a church that really values that. One of our Saddleback values is continual learning and so we as a staff get to be part of that, we benefit from that. We are constantly growing as we are leading and learning and so we get to give that to interns and invite them to be part of that process as well. So that is just so exciting.

Mingo Palacios:

What are some of the easiest but biggest misses that you see when you hear about churches that are running internship programs that cannot get off the ground. They’re like, “We want to develop this internship thing, but man, we cannot for the life of us see it succeed.” What are some of the big misses that you’ve seen? Then maybe you can give us some solutions and responses to those misses that you have had the benefit or the blessing of managing.

Lisa Bee:

Yeah. Gosh, so many thoughts to that. I think one of the really great things when looking at our program it has evolved and just gone through so much change over the years. It used to be a leadership academy. We used to have our interns actually live at our Rancho campus.

Mingo Palacios:

I didn’t know that. Are you serious?

Lisa Bee:

Yeah. Absolutely.

Mingo Palacios:

Wow they used to live at the Rancho campus.

Lisa Bee:

They used to live at the Rancho campus. It has looked so different over the years. So I think one thing that can potentially hold us back is being afraid to try new things. If something’s not working or if someone has an idea, you know, we generally will go, “Yeah, let’s try that” and if it doesn’t work, we’ll fail fast and we’ll try something new because there’s value in knowing why things don’t work as well. So, that’s definitely something that-

Mingo Palacios:

What a great word. There’s value in knowing why things don’t work. And so many times we’re afraid to fail, right?

Lisa Bee:

Yeah, of course.

Mingo Palacios:

But we live in such a great ecosystem. I speak on behalf of working at Saddleback also, is that the leadership that exists around us is not waiting to catch you stumbling. They’re in a learning process just as much as we are and a lot of times we forget that fact, right, they’re in a season of discovery just as much as we are and that trickles all the way through even to the person that’s coming to the table saying, “I would love to give myself in exchange for some leadership development, some skill development in an internship.” So why don’t you unpack for our listeners if they’ve got a pen, some of the basic, I would say approach philosophies, right? Because you’ve got some notes, some incredible notes in front of us. Just give us a little bit of what you value in an internship program that would help create a wireframe for somebody who was maybe thinking about building one themselves.

Lisa Bee:

Yeah. Well, we joke about everything at Saddleback is an acrostic, but that’s not a joke. That’s real. Even the word Saddleback is an acrostic. Fun fact.

Mingo Palacios:

Most people don’t know that.

Lisa Bee:

Yes. However, of course the most important acrostic at Saddleback is the interns acrostic.

Mingo Palacios:

Yes. Yes. I would never argue that. I would never argue that.

Lisa Bee:

So, these are the program elements and this is the kind of the how we deliver the experience that we want to be giving to our interns.

Mingo Palacios:

This is perfect information.

Lisa Bee:

So the “I” of the interns acrostic is intentional training because we are a teaching and training church, there are already so many awesome things that we can be pointing our interns to you. Then just in the program itself, we have intern specific leadership development workshops, community stuff. We’re all about the content. We’re also about the community and just building that special intern community as well, which kind of goes into the next one. The “N” is networking with other interns and staff. We are such a large staff at Saddleback. But some interns come in and they know zero people and that’s so overwhelming. I get overwhelmed.

Mingo Palacios:

That was my experience. Everybody starts with a small pool of people that they know unless you’re like the pastor’s son and then you grew up in the church, right? But this is most people’s pathway.

Lisa Bee:

Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, as staff, we want to be thinking about who can we connect our intern to so that they can be learning from all of these different voices. When we do exit evaluations with interns and just ask how their experience was, the first question we always ask them is what was the most valuable thing that you’re taking away from your internship? And they always, always say it was the relationships. So, we know how important that is.

Mingo Palacios:

And you can’t short that and so many times people think, “Oh, if I get a couple of interns, that means I get a bunch of free labor.”

Lisa Bee:

Totally.

Mingo Palacios:

Right? This is a big miss.

Lisa Bee:

Yes. Yes. So we say interns are here to learn and lead. They are not here to do and file.

Mingo Palacios:

Write that down. Write that down. Interns are here to learn and lead. Not do and file.

Lisa Bee:

Right.

Mingo Palacios:

That defiles and intern when you make them just do and file.

Lisa Bee:

Yeah. I asked one of our supervisors one time who was so great because I was like, I want you to teach other supervisors what would you say? How would you teach other people to care well for interns and he said, “I just want to give them the experience that I would have wanted if I was in their shoes right now.”

Mingo Palacios:

That’s perfect.

Lisa Bee:

When I look back at my time at Saddleback, I was a baby Christian in college, just came to know the Lord and people gave me opportunities to learn and fall on my face and make mistakes and be messy in the process and they invested in my journey. And so we’re investing in people, we’re investing in their journeys. It’s not, “Oh, come here and do stuff.”

Mingo Palacios:

Not, “Take work off my plate.”

Lisa Bee:

God does not need us to do anything for him. He’d be more efficient without us. But in his kindness he has invited us to be part of what he’s doing through the church. And so that is so exciting and we want interns to experience the thrill of that.

Mingo Palacios:

I love that.

Lisa Bee:

So, the “T” is thoughtful observation. So that kind of goes both ways. We as supervisors want to be thoughtfully observing how our interns are doing and coaching them and giving them the feedback that they need to adjust along the way. We don’t want to wait until the end and then kind of tell them we will rob them-

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah course corrections along the way.

Lisa Bee:

Yeah, exactly.

Mingo Palacios:

That means that you have to be present. This is also like a big miss is they think if I can get a bunch of interns that I can check out and not be there for this thing and the healthier expression of an internship is to be present and have mutual engagement on how things can be better on both sides of the coin, right?

Lisa Bee:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Mingo Palacios:

I love actually being surprisingly approached. The best leaders ask, “How can I make this better for you?” And just because somebody has an intern doesn’t negate them from being a leader because sometimes there is inside of an intern, a tremendous emerging leader. And then as the person who is managing that intern, you actually are mutually encouraged because you’re going, “I love the feedback you’re giving me because I want this to be a great expression, legitimate growth for both of us.”

Lisa Bee:

Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s the flip side, we’re observing interns, but they’re also observing us. They are looking at everything we’re seeing and doing and assuming that that’s the way to do ministry. I mean obviously, right, we do everything right all the time.

Mingo Palacios:

Twenty four seven. Twenty four seven.

Lisa Bee:

So the impressions that they’re forming of ministry of healthy ministry-

Mingo Palacios:

Right. It’s a huge responsibility.

Lisa Bee:

Of ministry of Saddleback that’s being shaped by their time with us and the example that we’re setting. So interns make us better leaders. They sharpen us as leaders. We are a better, stronger church because of the interns that we have.

Mingo Palacios:

I love that.

Mingo Palacios:

“E”

Lisa Bee:

So the “E” is experienced based learning. Obviously that’s the bulk of an internship experience. I think the best thing that we can do for interns is expose them to as much of our jobs as possible.

Mingo Palacios:

The real stuff.

Lisa Bee:

The real stuff, yeah.

Mingo Palacios:

Not just the fun stuff in so many internships, they’re just like, “OK, here’s your pile of stuff that you have to process.” Right? But it’s the full expression, the best internships are full expressions of whoever’s shadow they happen to be living in for the season they’re there.

Lisa Bee:

Right, absolutely and then the “R” is regular coaching and mentoring. So Abby was just telling me how you guys meet every week and we value being personal over being professional and so, yeah, so we’re, we’re not just here to provide some professional work experience. Like I said, we’re investing in interns’ lives and so that’s regular coaching and weekly meetings with interns. It’s not just, “Hey, are you clear with what our assignments are for that week and what the tasks are.” It’s, “Hey, how are you doing? What’s God teaching you? How can I help you? What do you need prayer for?” You know, these aren’t profound questions, but they can really encourage some profound conversation.

Mingo Palacios:

Definitely. Oh my gosh, we’ve walked through some serious life in just the ministry together. You know what’s really interesting is when you talk about that attention to being personable, not just professional. I think that there are a lot of people who go, “I don’t have enough legitimacy in what it is that I’m doing, so I don’t think that we could take on an internship because I don’t think that they would experience enough professionalism that we could offer something that would be a learning experience for people. And in my personal reflection, I just wanted to be close to the people that I thought eventually I would become like. So I don’t want to know how much or how little you have to actually do by way of like paperwork. I’ll help you with that to be in proximity to you. And I think that people forget or they disqualify themselves as potential intern managers or the people that could deploy an internship like program because they don’t think that they have enough professional experiences to offer people. When in reality you can build a relationship with anybody and you probably are underselling the fact that people want to have a relationship with you and have some proximity to your experience.

Lisa Bee:

I think people know more than might think they know.

Mingo Palacios:

Of course. Yeah. A hundred percent.

Lisa Bee:

If you’re a step ahead of a college student, you have so much to teach them and that is just so exciting that we really are invited to have that level of influence in their lives. It truly astonishes me that God lets us do that.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. I love that. I’ve got a question that’s off the script. Because we’ve got two N’s.

Lisa Bee:

We’ve got two N.

Mingo Palacios:

Ok give me the “S” and then I’m going to ask you a question off script.

Lisa Bee:

Ok the “N” And it is new and modified goals in what really distinguishes interns from volunteers, I would say is that they have distinct learning objectives. They have goals.

Mingo Palacios:

There’s expectations.

Lisa Bee:

This is part of the pathway, that stepping stone that’s going to get them to where God’s leading them next. And so we want to be revisiting those because they can change. And then lastly, the “S “and the interns acrostic is significant projects.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s great.

Lisa Bee:

So you know, we’re generally dealing with millennials and younger. They are excited. They are world changers. They want to make a difference. They want to be part of something big. They’re going to know in two seconds-

Mingo Palacios:

You’re speaking to me right now.

Lisa Bee:

Yes.

Mingo Palacios:

Because I want to be about that.

Lisa Bee:

Yes, we all do and they will know in two seconds if we’re giving them garbage work to do and assignments. But we want them to know that there’s a place for you in the church for your gifts to be used and for the dreams God’s given you to be fulfilled. Like dream big. This is a place where you know, you can be part of something big.

Mingo Palacios:

You said something so profound in the statement or the paragraph before where you said, “This is a stepping stone for them.” This is something that we want them to see us like a slingshot to wherever God has them. And unfortunately, I feel like so many people treat interns like stepping stones, right? Where they’re like, I’m just going to use you to help me get to the next thing that I need to get done. We need to recalibrate the way that we engage with interns. It’s their stepping stone to what God has for them.

Lisa Bee:

Exactly.

Mingo Palacios:

That declares that we’re here to serve, not be served. And it tells people that we have your best interests in mind. Not just our convenience in mind. I’m so convicted by it because being a passionate young person, sometimes I feel like I have to submit myself to kind of a beating in order to get close to somebody that I think can offer me a little bit of knowledge that I can’t afford on my own. I wish it wasn’t that way culturally, you know, that like when you come in to serve that you would be celebrated, you know, and this is what this internship, this is what that acrostic all embodies is the ability to celebrate. Somebody’s willing to come to serve. Tell me this, I’m going to ask you this question. Settle the debate about paid and non-paid interns. Because a lot of the emerging generation is like, “Hey, I’ve got something to bring to the table. I think I should be compensated for it.” What do you think about that?

Lisa Bee:

All churches do it differently. I think there are a lot of factors that go into that. Our part time internships really they are flexible enough that if an intern does need to generate some income, they can do a part time job or do something on the side and still have their internship experience with us. I would say to don’t equate the value of an internship with whether it’s paid or not. I know people who have had paid internships and it was not a positive learning experience for them. There was not an investment for them. Paid internships don’t have sort of the regulations and state and federal stuff that unpaid internships have. Unpaid internships, there are things we have to think about with that. They have to be for the benefit of the intern. It has to be focused on a learning and a transformational and growth experience. So the primary beneficiary has to be the intern. And with a paid internship, that’s not necessarily the case. You can be doing and filing all day and get minimum wage, but at the end of your internship are you going to have had a transformational experience? Not necessarily. So I would say don’t equate one with the other and it’s really up to churches and just what a lot of different factors are involved.

Mingo Palacios:

Sometimes it’s so unfortunate that we will settle for being paid despite what the program has to develop or what it promises by way of like the maturation of the person or the people engaged in that. I appreciate that. My second question, and we can close our conversation down with this is, when covering the topic of interns, what would you say? Whoa. What just happened? So the break just let us know it right behind us on this thing. So we’ll wrap this up quick. What do you say to a church trying to build an internship program? What one piece of advice would you give them?

Lisa Bee:

Honestly, do it. Don’t be afraid to fail fast, make mistakes but really we, as the church need to be investing in developing leaders.

Mingo Palacios:

I love that. Yours is a model that people can study and can come and can take cues from and could emulate. Correct?

Lisa Bee:

I love learning from other churches too so let’s connect. I love just the how different it looks everywhere and just how we really are better together and talking through how we can do that well.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s great. If somebody wants to follow along or get connected to you, how do they do that?

Lisa Bee:

Yeah. You can email intern@Saddleback.com. Go to Saddleback.com/interns, or we’re also on instagram at SBinternships, so lots of different ways to connect.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s perfect. Lisa, I love your heart. I love what you get to do. I know that we have benefited from your leadership across the table with interns. Thanks for sharing with us a little bit about how to be better leaders amongst those that God entrusts us with. I hope this episode encourages you. Share it. If you’re an intern, send it to your boss. If you are a person in ministry and you don’t have interns and you want to develop a program, send it to your boss. I just think that you need to know what this is all about because you’ll be a better ministry for it. We love you guys. We’ll talk to you soon.

Mingo Palacios:

We’d like to thank Purpose Driven Church for making this podcast possible. If you’ve been feeling burnt out or plateaued in your ministry, we invite you to join us for Purpose Driven Church conference happening this June right here in Southern California. You can learn more and register by visiting PD.church. We hope today’s insights left you feeling inspired and propelled towards your greatest potential. Thanks again for joining us for another episode of the PD Podcast. Until next time.

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