September 17, 2013 | Matt Kucinski

Roland Hoksbergen and senior John Michael LaSalle spent this summer developing the Entravos website.

Many jobs require experience. But, many students need that first job in their field to get that experience.

John Michael LaSalle calls it a “catch 22,” Roland Hoksbergen?: “the experience pickle.”

Call it what you may—it’s a quandary both LaSalle and Hoksbergen are trying to address for their field of international development.

A foot in the door

“Lots of Christian organizations have opportunities, internships, fundraising and even some paid positions in a variety of sorts and settings,” said Hoksbergen, the director of Calvin’s international development studies program, “what we wanted to do is get these organizations to post their internship and entry level types of opportunities for the graduates who are going to be looking for them.”

So, this summer, Hoksbergen teamed up with LaSalle, a senior majoring in international development studies. The two, through a McGregor Undergraduate Research Fellowship created, a website dedicated to connecting recent university graduates with entry-level positions in Christian development organizations.

“We’d like Entravos to become a central place where there’s a broad variety of different types of work around the world,” said La Salle, “so that the inability to find a job early on is not a deterrent for someone who wants to have a long-term career in international development.”

Filling a niche

LaSalle says the idea isn’t new. Sites like post thousands of internships and volunteer opportunities already. But, he says, many Christian organizations don’t use it.

“It [] draws from a really wide audience,” said LaSalle, “so they end up getting lots of applications that don’t fit their mission, their organization.”

But, he says the Entravos’ site is appealing to these Christian organizations, which approach development a little differently. So far, LaSalle says the response has been mainly positive. He’s contacted 85 NGO’s, parachurch ministries and volunteer organizations and all but three have shown interest in posting to the site.

Creating an on-ramp

The name Entravos is a Spanish command that loosely translates to “Come on in.” That hospitable phrase closely reflects the posture of Hoksbergen’s career.

“For a long time my sense of personal vocation and mission has been to help young people get out into the field of international development,” said Hoksbergen.

Hoksbergen’s done just that. He’s been working in international development for more than 30 years. He received an opportunity to travel with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) while a student at Calvin back in 1976. And, during his time as a professor at Calvin, he’s provided an on-ramp for the next generation of Christian international development workers.

In 1993, he was the catalyst behind the creation of the international development studies (IDS) minor. In 2005, he helped create the IDS major. A year later, he worked alongside students in creating the Faith and International Development conference, a student-run conference, which annually brings together hundreds of college-age students to learn from representatives from dozens of international development organizations around the world. And, in 2012, Hoksbergen wrote the book, Serving God Globally, a practical resource on how to prepare for international service.

LaSalle says the website is just the latest of Hoksbergen’s efforts to get students out into the field. He’s appreciative that the college’s McGregor Fellowship program helped make it happen.

“It’s cool to see Calvin supporting something that will be valuable for Calvin students and a lot of other universities in the U.S., Canada and around the world,” said LaSalle. “To me, it emphasizes the going and doing aspect of Calvin’s mission—how they’re supporting students after they leave school as well.”

John Michael LaSalle

Roland Hoksbergen

Recent stories