GMI Connection

Internship Survey Proves Value of Research Panels GMI Connection - Issue 4 : Article 2

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nl4-2.jpgInternship survey proves value of research panels

Wondering how your programs compare to others? Whether to start (or stop) a program? GMI's research panels provide leaders access to the opinions of hundreds of current and future missionaries. Keep up to date on current studies through the GMI Research Blog. Need input in a particular area? Suggest a research topic – or commission a panel for your own study.


Should mission sending agencies offer cross-cultural field internships? Such programs can provide key support for long-term teams while aiding the mobilization of future missionaries.


But creating an internship program requires time and money – plus the cooperation of long-term field staff who will have to oversee interns. Is it worth the effort?


The answer may depend on how likely prospective missionaries are to do an internship; on how field missionaries feel about interns; and on how likely interns are to become long-term field staff.


This kind of information is important for agency decision makers, but it is not easy to gather. Agency leaders thinking about offering internships might call a few of their peers in other agencies or float the idea to some of their field staff.


research graph1.jpgBut what if there were a way to get information on this topic – and others – from a cross-section of field missionaries and prospects? What if that info were available not just to one agency's leaders but many?


Those questions capture the vision of GMI's Research Panels. Panels are groups of people who share common characteristics and who agree to take occasional surveys on topics of interest. Currently, GMI manages two panels – one comprised of more than 1,500 cross-cultural field workers, another with more than 3,000 people considering long-term cross-cultural service.


GMI gives these groups regular opportunities to share their experiences and opinions on issues of interest to the mission community. Since many agencies have similar challenges and opportunities, it makes sense to gather and distribute reliable information about them. Topics we plan to address this year include social media, support development, home assignments, measures of ministry progress, mobilization events and more.


Research panels make data gathering time- and cost-efficient, and allow insights to be made broadly available to the mission community. Some top-level survey findings are freely published and publicized via the GMI Research Services blog, Twitter and Facebook. Detailed findings are organized into reports available for purchase on GMI's online store.


Those interested in tracking research findings from GMI can follow us on Twitter or regularly visit the GMI Research Blog.


research graph1.jpgIndividuals and organizations in the mission community that need feedback from specialized audiences can rent one of the GMI Research Panels for their own use. This means that doctoral students in missiology no longer need to call 100 agencies asking for access to their field staff in exchange for a promised copy of their research. And those 100 agencies no longer need to field such calls – they can just refer the students to GMI!


Write info(at) for more details or to suggest topics for panel surveys.


So, back to the question posed earlier:

Are internships worth the effort?

Our survey revealed that a third of prospective missionaries said they are likely to do a mission internship. However, interest increases with one's commitment to long-term service. More than half of those most likely to serve long term say they are somewhat or very likely to do an internship.


research graph2.jpgThree quarters of the 314 field missionaries interviewed had experience with interns. Six in 10 of them agreed or strongly agreed that they are satisfied with their agency's internship program, while acknowledging in open-ended comments that internships involve a lot of work for field staff.


They also estimate that 45 percent of interns stay active in full-time field service after their internship, with a third continuing to serve with the agency for which they interned.


The detailed report, to be published soon, will include detailed information about the key elements that lead to satisfaction with internships, as well as descriptions of the three types of interns based on their motivation for service.


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