When Laura McCallum applied for an internship with TWR, she didn’t expect herself to end up on the other side of the world. Between a seven hour time difference, starting a new job and learning to drive on the left side of the road, Laura’s spending her summer living quite literally outside of her comfort zone. But for this college student, that’s exactly where she wants to be.
Laura is an incoming junior studying computer science at the University of Michigan. She’s serving as an IT intern at TWR’s office in Kempton Park, South Africa. When asked about her experiences so far, Laura had a few things to say about work, ministry and the pursuit of elephants.
Q: How did you first hear about TWR?
I heard about TWR from a group called the Traveling Team, a Christian mobilization organization. They visited one of my Cru meetings (Cru is a Christian student organization that I serve with on campus) to tell us about the many opportunities there are to get involved with ministry in the areas that we are studying/interested in. I filled out a card with my contact information and major, not really expecting anything to come from it. But I was contacted by the Traveling Team the next week, they told me about TWR and the rest is history!
Q: What drew you to pursue an internship at TWR?
After I learned about TWR and how they use technology and media to spread the gospel to the world, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was so excited to find a place where I could use what I have been studying to serve God, something that I had been wanting to find for a long time. When I was offered a position in South Africa, I initially had a lot of doubts and questions, but I realized what an amazing opportunity it was to travel the world, experience another culture and see what God is doing there. I am so thankful that God lead me to TWR and that His perfect plan takes my abilities and interests into account.
Q: Have you always had a desire to work in ministry?
I grew up in a Christian home and have had the privilege of knowing Jesus for most of my life, but it wasn’t until I went to college that I started to make my faith a priority in my life. I would say that my desire to do mission work has arisen in college. I love technology and what I am studying, but I wasn’t sure that computer science went well with ministry. TWR has totally changed my view of that, and I am excited to work in ministry using my technical skills this summer, possibly in the future as well.
Q: What kinds of projects will you be working on this summer?
I am working with Lauren, my fellow intern in South Africa for the summer, on developing an app for TWR Women of Hope. The app will display the prayer calendar in both daily and monthly prayer requests. It will also use the location of the user to display helpful information about nearby hospitals and prayer groups. Hopefully we will work with other aspects of the IT department here as well, maybe even travelling to TWR’s transmitting tower in Swaziland!
Q: Have you experienced any challenges during this internship?
I have been challenged in many different ways even though I have spent only a short amount of time here. Professionally, I have been challenged with learning programming languages and structures that are completely new to me. At the beginning it felt very overwhelming, but my supervisor has been really helpful with guiding me through the process. I have already learned so much. Personally, it was a challenge to get used to driving on the left side of the road in busy South African traffic, but after a few days of practice it became much easier. Spiritually, I have struggled with turning to God first when I need guidance or comfort instead of friends or family.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
I will graduate in the spring of 2020 and I honestly have no clue what I will be doing. I love the state of Michigan, but I am also open to living and working somewhere else. I am trusting that God will reveal His plan for me when the time is right, and I am excited to find out what and where that will be!
Q: Is there anything specific you’re looking forward to doing in your spare time this summer?
Another piece from my childhood is my love of elephants, so I really hope to see some at a wildlife park while I am here. I am also looking forward to learning more of the culture by trying new things and spending time with co-workers and new friends during our time off.
Q: Let’s lighten up… What is the best birthday or Christmas gift you’ve been given and why?
One of the best gifts would have to be the book The Book Thief. My mom gave it to me one Christmas because she had heard good things about it, but I didn’t get around to reading it until about six months later (oops). It wasn’t until I read it that I realized it was one of the best gifts, because it turned into one of my favorite books of all time! I was so mad at myself for waiting that long!
Curious to hear more about international internships like Laura’s? Learn more at twr.org/internships.