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7/14/2014

Admittedly we’re a little biased, but the Indiana INTERNnet and Indiana Chamber teams believe your company is not operating at full capacity if you aren’t hosting an internship program. Missing out on increased productivity, new creative energy and an efficient recruiting strategy, yes – but also potentially missing out on dollars from the state.

If finances are preventing you from hiring an intern or if you want to stretch your budget to recruit additional interns, Indiana INTERNnet’s partnership with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) to host the Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana program may help. In addition to the interns who use our site, eligible EARN Indiana students alleviate some of the payment burden for their employers.

The initiative provides students with financial need access to resumé-building, experiential, paid internships, while employers receive state matching funds in exchange for hiring these students. All student-employer matches are made through the Indiana INTERNnet web site, which provides employers a free platform for posting their internship opportunities.

Employers receive state matching funds – up to half of a student’s hourly rate, which must meet federal minimum wage requirements ($7.25 per hour) – in exchange for hiring qualifying students. Full-time undergraduate students eligible for need-based state financial aid, specifically the Frank O’Bannon Award or the 21st Century Scholarship, are eligible for EARN Indiana.

The program runs in three waves: Summer (May 1 through August 15), Semester I (August 16 through Dec. 31) and Semester II (January 1 through April 30). An internship must last at least eight weeks; however, they can span multiple waves if they are approved each time by CHE.

Sandy Petrie with the Noble County Public Library has hired two or three interns through Indiana INTERNnet and EARN Indiana each cycle. She estimates the library has saved about $10,000 annually, and indicates the library could not host interns without this assistance from the state.

Petrie even found a future full-time hire through EARN Indiana. She reached out to a music major in Albion who was not considering the library field at all. He accepted the offer and ended up falling in love with the work, changing his major to information technology. Petrie said it didn’t take her long to decide that she needed to hire him full-time once he graduates.

“We didn’t realize what we needed until we brought him in. He didn’t realize what he liked until he tried working for a library,” Petrie explains. “It worked out so well for both of us.”

An EARN Indiana-qualifying employer may be the following:

  • An approved college or university
  • A unit of state or local government
  • A private, not-for-profit organization
  • A for-profit company (with preference given to small businesses)

Indiana INTERNnet’s web site serves as the platform for these student-employer matches to take place. Students and employers can complete a brief application process, and CHE will report eligibility status back to the applicant. EARN Indiana-eligible students and employers are designated by the EARN Indiana logo.

In order to receive matching funds, certain minimum standards must be met:

  • Internship must provide experiential learning
  • Internship must be paid
  • Internship must be at least eight weeks
  • Intern must work 12 to 20 hours a week during academic year (12 to 40 hours during summer)
  • Intern activities may not be political
  • No more than 25% of intern’s work can be administrative in nature
  • No more than 50% of the organization’s workforce may be interns
  • Federal work study funds may not be received for the internship position

Ronnie Hileman, property manager at Salamonie Reservoir with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, says Mississinewa Lake saved $6,000 to $7,000 through EARN Indiana and increased the productivity of full-time employees.

“A lot of times, this internship is a student’s first job,” Hileman notes. “Working on a natural resources property, these students have the opportunity to learn time management, fiscal management, problem solving, how to operate equipment and how to work with groups. It also gives younger students the opportunity to work with seasoned veterans and learn from them.”

More information is available at www.IndianaINTERN.net. Additionally, prospective participants should subscribe to the CHE listserv or contact Amanda Stanley at (317) 234-8232 or earnindiana@che.in.gov with questions.

To register for our free service, visit our web site or call (317) 264-6862 to speak with Indiana INTERNnet staff about your internship program.