By Bjorn Karlman
The right college job goes beyond having money for bills, a date or a fun weekend. It also means more than a few lines of “relevant experience” on your resume.
As Union College students who have worked at AdventSource can tell you, finding a great job as a student can be an amazing compliment to a fulfilling college experience and can help catapult them to future career success.
Located on Union’s campus for 35 years, AdventSource has served as the official supplier of Adventist ministry resources for Pathfinders and a range of other church ministries.
Former student worker and Union alumnus Jamie Roberts ’15 described AdventSource as “the premier provider of ministry-based services and products that touch many parts of the world. Your Pathfinder honors? AdventSource. Your church QuickStart guides? AdventSource. Your school and church websites? AdventSource.”
Or, as Martha Hornung ’07 said, it’s like “Adventist Amazon.”
AdventSource serves Adventists in North America and employs more than 25 full-time employees and nearly 30 college students to create, print and ship resources, act as customer service reps, run an event management service and operate the Adventist church’s official church and school website provider.
For Monica Pervis, who graduated from Union in May 2016 with a computing degree, AdventSource meant so much more than simply a job.
“Good mentors make a world of difference,” she said. “I had people at AdventSource I could go to for advice for both my career and life in general. They were invaluable to me as I navigated my way through college and into the ‘real world.’”
Pervis worked as an IT intern and said the network she built, along with her job experience, ultimately enabled her to find the occupation she is in now. She is a PC technician at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in the Kansas City area.
At its core, AdventSource is valuable to students who work there because it makes for meaningful and useful work.
“AdventSource is a great place for student development. Unlike many internships (where coffee making is implied in the job description), AdventSource provides projects and responsibilities that make a tangible impact—an impact that truly touches the world,” said Roberts, now a senior financial analyst for Florida Hospital Central Region.
Hornung worked as a production and order technician while at AdventSource. She said she learned the value of teamwork by assisting with printing resources, assembling products and packing and shipping merchandise to clients.
She is now a benefits specialist at Nebraska-based Bryan Health. Asked if there was a principle, job tip or other nugget of wisdom she had learned at AdventSource that she still uses today, Hornung responded, “Service, service, service!”
She explained that it meant “making sure the person next to me (whether a coworker or client) is served first and well. This principle learned is a mirror example of what Jesus said: ‘Take care of my sheep.’”
Student initiative also thrives there. Steve Creitz, a senior illustrator at Justinen Creative Group in Caldwell, Idaho, worked for the organization 30 years ago airbrushing Sabbath School felts.
“I was working doing piece work and figured I could do it MUCH faster if I talked my roommate into screen printing the designs onto mat board, which I was then able to cut out to make stencils and quickly blow through my stack of felts,” Creitz recalled. “Soon all the others wanted me to make stencils for them as well.”
The organization also helps students gain a broader perspective. Take Nate Johnson ’07 and ’12 graduate, who was hired by AdventSource as a sophomore in high school.
His first duties involved screen-printing scarves and shirts for Eager Beaver, Adventurer and Pathfinder uniforms.
“It was time for my first performance review and my supervisor, Mike Luke, asked me how I thought I contributed to the company. I started out saying ‘Well, I’m just a screen-printer,’ and he stopped me there, pointing out that I wasn’t just a screen-printer but I was part of something much bigger,” said Johnson. “I was part of AdventSource.”
All work and no play?
Of course, time spent there is not all work and no play.
“Anyone who knew me during my time there knew that I LOVED the movie ‘Top Gun,” said Johnson, who now works as a computer systems coordinator at Olsson Associates, an engineering firm in Lincoln, Neb. “So when it came time for me to leave AdventSource in 2007 they made me a cake and printed a picture of Tom Cruise from the movie. Everyone there signed it and that was very special to me.”
Pervis recalled a time when she and her co-worker celebrated their birthdays during one of the international Pathfinder Camporees in Oshkosh, Wis.. “Another co-worker brought a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner so we could have a birthday celebration every night at supper, half the week for each birthday,” she said. “Last I knew the birthday banner was still being passed around.”
Other things keep making the rounds
Jason Burke ’15 remembered a practical joke that ran between the IT and accounting departments. The prank involved a picture of a surprised man’s face that was hidden in various places and bounced back and forth between IT and accounting.
Burke, who now works for BNSF Railway, also enjoyed persistent efforts by one staff member to “find soulmates for single interns.”
Even if staff missions to help you find the love of your life are unsuccessful, working at AdventSource will still leave you with something special. A common thread arose in student recollections of their time at AdventSource: Working there had spiritual significance.
Roberts said the main lesson he learned at AdventSource was:
“To do meaningful work you have to remember you are doing it for Him.”