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Meet the Intern: Ben Richards

Posted by richardsb at Jul 17, 2012 11:20 AM |

Meet the Intern: Ben Richards

Ben and Big Ben!

Make the coffee. Copy this report. Sort the mail. Maybe some of you out there have felt like this during your internship. Not so in the Systems Department at DiscipleMakers. Even on my very first day, staffing the Help Desk with Jason Maas, I was modifying email lists, troubleshooting the print server, and other things usually reserved for those who actually know what they’re doing. But Jason always made sure (and continues to make sure) that I did know what I was doing, with seemingly infinite patience and a genuine interest in guiding me every step of the way.

By the way, I’m Ben Richards, or Mr. Spock, as you may have gathered from my photo. I’m soon to be in my third year of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Lafayette College. I really like trains, mountain biking, and fixing things. I feel very blessed that God literally dropped this internship into my lap. (He knows that sometimes I need BIG hints!) During the fall last year, I was casually looking for possible internships in various areas and corporations, when I received a call from the DM HQ offering me an application and interview for the Systems internship! Not only was I surprised to be approached about an internship at all (let alone one I hadn't applied for), I didn’t even know that DM offered internships!

God's path to the start of the internship was one of fear, doubt, growth, rejoicing and ultimately praise. Raising support was completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable for me, but God used it to show His love and power. By His grace and the guidance of my mentor Brian Roberg, I was able to raise 80% of my support in just one month! This was especially important because I would spend the following four months studying abroad at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany.

After a two-week flurry of activity consisting of Orientation, Refresh (videos here!), and Staff Conference, I was able to settle down and begin my "regular" tasks, if such things could be posited to exist. Some of these tasks have included Help Desk (which itself covers a huge array of jobs which may or may not be related to technology!), physical plant maintenance, donation processing, the Online Giving project, the Google Apps project, and a whole lot of watching and learning. Each of these has given me insight into a different facet of operations at DM, and a broader vision for what it takes to support our field staff.


Things are usually pretty low-key in the office: There's no specific lunch hour, no time clock to punch, no hard and fast rules about time off, and no stiff department divisions. While some managers might consider this a detriment to productivity, it actually encourages (I feel) everyone to fulfill Paul's command in Colossians 3:23: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (NIV). In this way the HQ really serves each staff member by allowing him or her to care for other people in his or her life if necessary, while still maintaining the vision to "git 'r done!"

I've been experiencing the value of problem-solving, in that I don't necessarily need an in-depth knowledge of the technical end of the system in order to make progress on solving an issue. I've also determined that there is no occupation in the world which does not rely heavily on effective communication. My co-worker Adam Focht and I share an ongoing personal goal to become better communicators, and it's something that is central to spreading the gospel as well.

Here in the HQ we all wear many hats, and it helps promote a "family" atmosphere, rather than a hierarchy. This encourages us to serve the Lord and one another with humility and grace. (Warning: Shameless Plug Ahead) If this sounds like an exciting and fulfilling way to spend your summer, get started on that application!

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