But I Also Want to Go to Grad School

Melissa Mainhart, Intern 2015-2017  |  November 01, 2018

The RUF internship is a great chance for women and men to explore the career path of vocational ministry. It is two years (or more) of engaging people in the mission of God, doing outreach and evangelism, and walking into the darkness on a college campus to win souls for Christ. But there are many of you who have already been called to other paths and vocations and that is so good. That may leave you wondering if there is a place for you in the RUF internship, or why you should even bother considering the internship if it is clear you have been called to a vocation other than ministry.

While I never considered those questions when applying for the RUF internship, I should have. I graduated from NC State in 2015 with a degree in Meteorology and my plan had always been to do the RUF internship, give back, go on to graduate school, get a job. My purpose in doing the internship was to rest from school and give back to the campus ministry that had loved and served me so well. My plan was cut and dry, nice and simple, everything organized into neat, labeled boxes. I moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to work at Oklahoma State University and all my illusions were slowly but steadily shattered.

What I found was that the internship profoundly changed me. It has made me more myself, drawn me to our God, and given me skills, experiences, and wisdom that has benefited all spheres of my life. And I did go on to graduate school. I am currently in the second year of my Master of Science in Meteorology program at Saint Louis University. But my time with RUF and my experiences as an intern have shaped me irrevocably; I would not give up my time at Oklahoma State.

I gained wisdom, knowledge, and maturity within the internship that have benefited me in graduate school and will continue to benefit me afterwards. I am a better worker because I know and strive to live out that I work not for human approval and compensation, nor for my own pride, but for my Creator and Savior because He loves me. Mentoring and counseling women has taught me patience, faithfulness, determination, persistence, compassion, and kindness. These attributes that I was privileged to practice make me a better team member, employee, and friend. It has taught me how to advocate for others and stand up for myself, the goodness of work, and the value of listening. I have become a more effective communicator during my time working with RUF. The internship taught me the goodness of and difficulty in setting good boundaries between work and home life that has benefited me in graduate school. This has caused my time in St. Louis to be more fruitful than it would have been if I had come here straight from my undergraduate education.


Time spent learning another discipline is time I could not have otherwise had. As a scientist I won’t ever be asked again to spend my time studying in the humanities and it was an eronomous gift to be asked to grow in another discipline. I am a more well rounded person because of this diversity and I find I understand my science more fully because of my time spent studying theology.

I have become a better church member and have seen how my spiritual gifts can be used in the church. Being under intense pastoral care and spiritual guidance has given me an understanding of what the church can and should look like, and how I can be a part of it. I learned how much I could love a group of people, it was more than I thought possible. Studying and teaching to others the tenets of reformed faith have strengthened my faith in and understanding of Scripture and our Lord.

Ultimately, I got more of God during the internship. I learned about our Father’s goodness, faithfulness, and provision through fundraising. I learned about the Spirit’s presence as our comforter and helper while I spent a summer living at my parents’ house and two years in a small town in Oklahoma. I learned about the Father’s goodness, faithfulness, and provision as I moved from North Carolina to Oklahoma and started my life over. I learned about our Savior’s sacrifice and our Father’s righteousness, justice, and boundless grace as I entered into the messiness of students’ lives with my own sin and mess. I saw how Christ’s love changes us to be more like him as I engaged in conflict and forgiveness with my staff and students. I saw the Spirit moving in the hearts and lives of my beautiful students, changing them and drawing them towards the Father even as the same was happening within me. These things stand as reminders to me of God’s promises in this broken life, they are so strong because they are made with the students and staff I love so much. In my suffering I cry out to God in confidence because He saw me throughout the internship--in my darkest moments and deepest joys--and He was working all the while.

You should do the RUF internship because you are more than your career, and the internship invests in your whole person. You will grow immensely and see just how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.