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Janet Boston - 1/14/2016

We’re barely into 2016. The nights are long and everyone is turning up their electric blankets. That means it’s time to start thinking about … summer internships?

That’s right! Many students have begun searching for summer opportunities, and some employers already have hired their summer interns.

If your employer utilizes www.IndianaINTERN.net, I encourage you to post your openings soon and begin searching for the perfect intern. Be thorough when describing the expectations and duties so you attract the right type of candidates for the position. Create an intern work plan and offer students as much real-world experience as possible. Remember, you’re grooming the future workforce.

If your employer has encountered obstacles in creating an internship program, however, you’re not alone. The Indiana Chamber’s 2015 Employer Survey revealed there is work to be done in addressing barriers to entry and facilitating partnerships between employers and schools. Despite an increasing state and national focus on experiential learning opportunities for students, many respondents said they do not have an internship program. The top reasons given: lack of time to hire and manage interns, the need for more information on starting an internship initiative and cost.

For those employers who want to make internships a part of their company culture, these obstacles are not insurmountable. There are a number of resources available to support every stage of your internship program from development to evaluation:

  • Our online internship connection portal, www.IndianaINTERN.net, allows employers to post their internship openings free of charge. Prospective interns can search the web site for opportunities and apply for those that align with their interests. Employers can search for interns with applicable skills.
  • Indiana INTERNnet works with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education on the Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana program. Employers who offer a paid, experiential internship and hire an EARN Indiana-eligible student can receive up to 50% matching funds for their interns’ salaries. Remember to submit and fill your internship postings on www.IndianaINTERN.net for EARN Indiana reimbursement.

A greater number of internships in the state will be important for many reasons. Internships play a significant role in helping Indiana address the “skills gap” – the alignment between the skills employers are seeking in their employees and what the state’s educational institutions are producing. The Indiana Career Council set a goal within its workforce development strategic plan of increasing the number of internships available to Hoosiers by 10,000. This is part of the larger goal that at least 60% of Indiana’s workforce will have postsecondary skills and credentials by 2025 to meet the demands of the state’s growing economy.

For many employers, interns play a critical role in the workplace. Interns can:

  • complete project work that may be on the backburner;
  • increase your organization’s productivity;
  • reduce recruiting costs;
  • and bring fresh, innovative perspectives to your organization.

Roche Diagnostics in Indianapolis hired 83 interns last summer in different departments throughout the 5,000-plus employee company. Frank Hockmuller, human resources consultant, says interns play an integral part in everything from working on an artificial pancreas to raising awareness about FDA approval of Roche’s HPV test for first-line primary screening for cervical cancer.

“The internship program at Roche will help to ensure the organization and the state have the diverse human capital necessary to achieve our goals, and effectively deliver results now and in the future,” Hockmuller affirms. “Interns help Roche discover innovations across functions by ensuring everything that we do continues to be as good as our science. An internship at Roche could truly change a student’s life and potentially millions of others. At the end of the day, everyone is contributing with purpose and is doing now what patients need next.”

Opportunities for practical, applied learning are a win-win-win for students, employers and educators. A stronger workforce ultimately means a stronger Indiana.