How can we best pass the torch of leadership to the next generation? That’s a question that Providence Life Services answers in many ways, but in no way as clearly as with our Internship Program. We’ve interviewed four interns, past and present, who have experienced the importance we place on investing in our future leaders.
A Full-Circle of Service
Elijah Heyboer, Park Place of Elmhurst Human Resources Director, started his Providence Life Services career in high school. “I went to Timothy Christian School,” he says, “and it was so exciting to look across the parking lot and see Park Place of Elmhurst being built.”
When he was 16, he began working as a busboy in the Park Place dining room. “That job is what set me on my career path,” Elijah says. “I was surprised to see what aging services looked like, what it could be. I was impacted by them, and my relationship with many of the residents grew.”
After a few years of studying Human Resources at Trinity Christian College, Elijah accepted an internship at Providence, getting HR experience at the corporate office, as well as at two communities. “My internship opened my eyes to the process, all the stuff that goes on in the background. I saw the laws and standards we were required to follow, but I saw that we actually go beyond and exceed the standard. Providence really goes above and beyond, and that’s what ensures the consistent quality care.”
After extending his internship, Elijah was hired at Park Place, coming full circle back to his busboy days. “They saw the value in me — as a kid, and then as a 20-year-old. And they see value in me now,” he says. “This is where I plan to be long-term.”
A Unique Perspective
Alyssa Elberson was only supposed to fill in for two months in the Accounting Department while the college interns were on winter break. “I don’t like math and numbers,” she says. “But I knew I could do filing, and I was happy to help wherever I was needed.”
But Accounting Manager Angie Sivak was impressed with Alyssa’s work ethic, so when the college interns came back, she requested that Alyssa stay on. “She’s a hard worker, but she’s also a smart worker. She knows to ask questions if she doesn’t understand something, and she’s been a help to everyone in all the different areas of the Accounting Department.”
Alyssa is thankful for the opportunity to learn more about healthcare; she’s currently enrolled at Joliet Junior College studying radiology. “I wanted to do hands-on work directly with patients, so I never thought I would like an office experience. But I love it. I love the variety of projects I do and the insight I get into healthcare.”
Now Alyssa loves working with numbers, and while Alyssa continues to work toward her goal of becoming a radiographer, she knows her Providence time has given her a unique perspective. “I’m really blessed to have learned a different world outside of my normal comfort zone.”
A Passion for Service
Tammy Mels began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Victorian Village as a way to enter the medical field while making money for college at Trinity. “I thought I wanted to work in healthcare, and it seemed like a good way to get experience.”
However, she had little experience with older adults. “I honestly didn’t think I’d like it,” she says. “I thought I would just make myself push through to get that experience.” But she says after two weeks, she’d developed deep relationships with the people she was serving. “I loved that job,” she says. “I loved training people to do the job, I loved talking about the job, I loved spending time helping the residents. It was a fantastic job.”
After some of her plans for a healthcare career didn’t work out, Tammy’s brother encouraged her to take a business class in college. “I took a business ethics class,” Tammy said. “I didn’t have much interest in business because I didn’t want a job where I sat behind a desk all day. But I had an amazing professor who showed me that business is about people, too.”
After interviewing Intern Coordinator Kyle Harkema for a class project, he asked if she’d be interested in applying for a sales internship at Park Place of St. John. That internship turned into an extended internship, which eventually turned into her current role as Community Coordinator at Village Woods.
“No matter what I did, Providence staff encouraged me,” she said. “I found my passion to earn a business degree that would help me as I work with seniors.”
Tammy still visits her beloved residents at Victorian Village and Park Place of St. John, while making new relationships with the residents she serves at Village Woods.
“I was made to work with seniors,” she said. “Providence helped me figure that out.”
A Heart for Service
“I knew I wanted to work in ministry, but I wasn’t sure how,” Ben Collins says. During his time at Cornerstone University, he took classes about the “business” of running a church, including the importance of marketing. He took the initiative to volunteer to help his church, Spirit of God Fellowship (SoGF), by redesigning and updating their web site. But he saw that there was more to do.
“I was passionate about helping my church because they do so many things well,” Ben says. “I wanted to find ways to tell people about who we are, so they can serve alongside us. That’s where marketing comes in.”
After graduating college, Ben was hired part-time as Director of Communications for SoGF, as the church entered a business agreement with the Providence marketing team. The Providence marketing team would oversee the re-branding of the church and help Ben develop a better understanding and knowledge of marketing best practice. During this time, Ben was also hired as a part-time intern for the marketing team, assisting with various projects while he learned more about the marketing process.
“I can’t believe how much I’ve learned,” Ben says. “I have a better handle on graphic design, branding, and teamwork. But what really surprised me is how much I love working in the field of senior living.”
His experience meeting with residents has shown him how vibrant senior living can be. “Talking with residents shows me how happy they are to be here, and that comes from the people who are so passionate to serve them,” Ben says. “I feel like the work we do on the marketing team has long-term impact. We’re helping people find exactly what they were looking for. I love being a part of it.”
Ben is grateful to have found a job that allows him to rely heavily on his creative side as he serves in ministry. “This is my favorite job that I’ve ever had,” he says. “I feel invested in. I can tell that people care about my experience here, and I believe in what I’m doing.”