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Indiana INTERNnet - 2/23/2021

INDIANAPOLIS) — At a virtual award ceremony today, Indiana INTERNnet (IIN) – the statewide internship matching organization – praised the resiliency of students, employers and educators during a particularly challenging year for work-based learning. IIN also announced an expanded focus and rebranding to further aid in talent development.

The IMPACT Awards program, now in its 15th year, recognized winners and nominees in the categories of Intern of the Year (college, high school and non-traditional), Employer of the Year (non-profit and for-profit), Career Development Professional of the Year (high school and college) and Intern Supervisor of the Year. A panel of impartial judges chose winners from 110 nominations.

“Today’s winners and nominees did not let the challenges of 2020 stop them from doing extraordinary things in work-based learning,” said Mike Slocum, Indiana INTERNnet’s executive director. “It was inspiring to hear how employers, students and educators quickly adapted to ensure internship programs continued.”

A special recognition, the David R. McKinnis Community Partner award, honored a program that works to better their community by creating quality internships and experiential learning opportunities. This is the second year the award has been presented. McKinnis served as Indiana INTERNnet board president from the program’s 2006 affiliation with the Indiana Chamber until stepping down from his position at the end of 2019.

Along with celebrating internship excellence, IIN announced its forthcoming new identity, Work and Learn Indiana (WLI), and its new three-year strategic plan. Internships – more than 11,000 created over IIN’s existence with record-setting numbers in recent years – will remain. However, WLI will also focus on helping employers fill their talent pipelines with high school students and adult workers.

“It was time to look at expanding that imprint we can make – moving from a transactional relationship between businesses and interns to really partnering with companies and students,” confirms Lori Danielson, owner of Terre Haute-based GoTime Coaching and most recent president of the IIN board of directors. “It’s all about how we can better support a diverse, more equitable workforce.”

IIN had been closely affiliated with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce since 2006. As part of the move forward, WLI is now officially part of the Indiana Chamber and its emerging Institute for Workforce Excellence. The institute is dedicated to helping employers attract, develop and retain high-skilled, productive talent in Indiana.

The 2021 IMPACT Award winners are:

  • College Intern of the Year (tie):
    • Mason Gordon (City of Rushville; Purdue University)
    • Erin Moher (netlogx, LLC; Indiana University)
  • High School Intern of the Year: Kelly Burnham (Miller’s Merry Manor; Woodlan Junior/Senior High School)
  • Non-Traditional Intern of the Year: Jake McCarty (The Garrett Companies, Greenwood)
  • Intern Supervisor of the Year: Cindy McCullough (BGBC Partners, LLP, Indianapolis)
  • College Career Development Professional of the Year: Jan Nickless (Indiana University)
  • High School Career Development Professional of the Year: Lori Heuer (Columbia City High School, Whitley County)
  • Employer of the Year (For-profit): RJL Solutions (Terre Haute)
  • Employer of the Year (Non-profit): The International Center (Indianapolis)
  • David R. McKinnis Community Partner Award: TechPoint (Indianapolis)

The celebration was sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, with Gerry Dick of Inside INdiana Business as the event emcee.

For more information about the Indiana INTERNnet/Work and Learn Indiana program, visit or call (317) 264-6852.

Details about the winners are below and at (which also includes a list of all the statewide nominees and the Work and Learn Indiana logo):

College Intern of the Year: Mason Gordon (Purdue University)
Mason Gordon spent three of his four years at Purdue University interning with the city of Rushville. During that time, he built strong relationships and contributed to multiple meaningful projects. The skills Gordon built, however, were put to the test in 2020.

As COVID-19 reached Rushville, Gordon led a team of interns in reaching out to more than 500 companies to proactively measure the impact of the virus on the city’s economy. Through those calls, Gordon and his team collected valuable data and gathered key contact information so the city could easily communicate information about its COVID-19 response and various funding opportunities.

Rushville intends to continue using the list of contact information Gordon gathered for the city’s business retention and expansion efforts.

Gordon’s impact didn’t stop there. He led the city’s intern team in managing a program called Rush Back to Local Business. The initiative raised $20,000 to help incentivize a gift card program to boost the local economy during the shutdown period. That led to the city selling nearly $60,000 in local gift cards in just three hours.

He also worked with the Heart of Rushville to submit and receive COVID-19 grants. Through his efforts, Gordon secured two grants totaling $11,700 for the organization.

Gordon’s passion for rural development and his experience with the city of Rushville has led him to pursuing a master’s degree for rural futures planning and innovation at the National University of Ireland Galway. He’s attending the university thanks to being selected as a Mitchell Scholar. Gordon is only the second Purdue student to receive that scholarship.

College Intern of the Year: Erin Moher (Indiana University)
During her internship with netlogx, Erin Moher wasn’t afraid of making major contributions to the company’s culture. The importance of diversity and inclusion within organizations was highlighted during 2020. Moher coordinated with netlogx’s Learning Management System (LMS) administrator to develop a companywide workshop. She arranged training materials, discussion questions and communications for the release of netlogx’s Diversity and Inclusion Workshop.

Along with leading netlogx’s diversity and inclusion initiative, Moher’s leadership continued to shine through the other training courses she created in the LMS. With the help of a fellow intern, she recorded the Intern Series to explain what is expected of the company’s interns, what the interns should expect of netlogx and how to juggle an extended internship as a college student. She also created multiple training videos focusing on home security and Zoom that greatly helped fellow employees as they transitioned to working from home.

Moher also made sure netlogx’s team members felt connected while working remotely. She hosted a Halloween costume contest during one of the company’s biweekly virtual support sessions. Through her active involvement with netlogx’s Wellness Committee, Moher worked with the committee leader to finalize how the company’s Team Step Challenge would continue virtually.

“Erin is the epitome of what interns are able to do when extended smart trust,” says Abbey Szentes, a human resource and internal support assistant at netlogx.

High School Intern of the Year: Kelly Burnham (Woodlan Junior/Senior High School, Woodburn)
Senior Kelly Burnham is part of her high school’s Interdisciplinary Cooperative Education program. Through the program, she works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in the dementia wing at Miller’s Merry Manor in Fort Wayne. Throughout her two years as a CNA, Burnham became a steady source of comfort to the special population within the nursing home.

“She always shows kindness, gentleness and patience with every resident she comes into contact with,” notes Brooke Ebersole, director of nursing. “She provides all aspects of care for them, and they have come to trust her and depend on her.”

Burnham consistently works with the nursing home’s administration to promote high-quality care to new admissions. She also helps new CNA students who come into Miller’s Merry Manor. She assists with floor duties and gives advice and guidance on how to care for each resident in a dignified way.

Burnham received the Miller’s Merry Manor Employee of the Month award for March 2020 during the outbreak of COVID-19. She earned the honor based on her ability to help and monitor conditions when other nurses were not available to assist.

After high school, Burnham plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a specialization in health, labor and delivery.

Non-Traditional Intern of the Year: Jake McCarty (The Garrett Companies, Greenwood)
Jake McCarty started his internship with The Garrett Companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. That meant he would be working remotely like the rest of the organization. However, he didn’t let that stop him from taking on major projects, impressing the team with his time management and making new connections.

Within two weeks of beginning his internship, McCarty established YouTube channels for five business locations and populated the channels with video content created from photography assets. Eventually, he also began pitching articles he wrote for the company’s corporate and residential locations to area businesses and municipalities. The city of Greenwood picked up his article “Investing in our Hometown” and tripled its online reach.

Despite working from home, McCarty made many connections within The Garrett Companies by managing its new hire promotions process for the marketing department. This role gave him the unique opportunity to meet and correspond with the nearly 35 new hires that joined the organization during his internship. His warm personality and friendly approach were the perfect fit for making each new hire feel comfortable and special, shares Nikkie Crosby, McCarty’s immediate supervisor. “Nearly every day someone was stopping by my office or chatting me in instant message to say how much they loved Jake and how glad they were that he was on the team.”

Career Development Professional of the Year (college): Jan Nickless (Indiana University)
Indiana and Purdue universities don’t always set aside their sports rivalry, but when it comes to Jan Nickless, representatives from both schools agree that she’s a superstar. Nickless was nominated twice, once by colleagues from each school. She served as the senior associate director of experiential education at the Indiana University Career Development Center.

Nickless developed innovative student employment and mentoring programming to assist Pell Grant and exploratory students. In January 2021, Nickless’ plan to centralize all on-campus part-time jobs and internships through university human resources took effect, making it much easier for students to find opportunities.

She also led the charge with IU legal counsel, former IIN Executive Director Janet Boston and others to establish a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that allows internships to be shared from Indiana INTERNnet with the university’s customer service management system. That MOU has served as a template for IIN as it extended partnerships with other Indiana colleges and universities.

While Nickless’ impact is impressive, it’s her customer service and kindness that makes her stand out. No matter if she’s working with a major Indiana employer or a freshman student coming to see a career coach for the first time, Nickless treats everyone with the same level of care.

After 37 years in higher education and career development, Nickless retired at the end of 2020.

Career Development Professional of the Year (high school): Lori Heuer (Columbia City High School, Whitley County)
In her role with Whitley County Consolidated Schools, Lori Heuer developed a four-year career connective program called Whitley Works for students at Columbia City High School. This program offers career exploration and work-based learning opportunities for students by connecting them to area businesses – through mentorships when they are freshmen, career interviews for sophomores, job shadows for juniors and internships for seniors.

Heuer likes to think outside of the box for the benefit of her students and her community. She helps students discover what they’re good at and their interests before connecting them to adults and businesses that can help them further develop their skills and explore those interests.

At the educational level, Heuer collaborates with school counselors to consider how the work-based experience may align to graduation requirements (including Graduation Pathways) or enhance the student’s high school educational experience. She acknowledges that her work is not done independently from other high school counselors and teachers. Through her efforts, she has placed 391 students in internships and worked with 165 employers in Whitley County and northeast Indiana.

Intern Supervisor of the Year: Cindy McCullough (BGBC Partners, LLP, Indianapolis)
Each year, Cindy McCullough’s colleagues at BCBG Partners, LLP know where to find her during the months of January to April. She’s camped out in a room with the company’s interns. She dedicates her time to maximize their learning and development experiences while also engaging them in fun activities. Even when the company transitioned to working remotely, McCullough made it a focus to keep the interns involved.

During the three-month internship program, McCullough intentionally focuses on understanding each interns’ skill levels and how to maximize their growth. Then, she aligns that with available projects. On the personal side, McCullough works to create a friendly, warm and accepting atmosphere for the interns so that they can develop their skills in a low-stress environment. She treats each intern with patience and care.

McCullough’s commitment is always to the individual, ensuring she meets with each intern on a weekly basis. She also advocates for the interns as they enter the professional workforce. Because of their positive experience, many of the interns join the firm after finishing their internship. This is critical to BCBG’s strategy for developing, evaluating and securing talent.

Employer of the Year (for-profit): RJL Solutions (Terre Haute)
Trust is a key component to RJL Solutions’ internship program. During their experience, interns are entrusted with important projects and challenging assignments that are necessary to the success of clients and the company. Interns are assets to the team and are expected to perform as such.

RJL Solutions’ internship program was developed over a three-year period by a current employee who began her journey as one of the first RJL Solutions interns. The program provides interns with dependent positions in their respective departments that allow them to have the proper training, experience and consulting opportunities to prepare them for their future desired careers.

A major component to RJL Solutions’ program is a group project of the interns’ choice in order to exercise their passions in the various industries RJL has clients in. At the end of the internship, the interns present their finished project to the entire RJL team.

Also, on a weekly basis, interns come together with the internship program coordinator for one hour or more to learn about a relevant topic of the business world or their specific industries. These sessions help them prepare for life outside of their undergrad experience, whether that is going back to school for graduate and certificate studies or entering the workforce.

Employer of the Year (non-profit): The International Center (Indianapolis)
As some Hoosier employers either scaled back or canceled their 2020 internship programs due to COVID-19, the International Center expanded and adapted to incorporate virtual, in-person and hybrid experiences. It hired 27 interns into their 2020 internship program with all of them from Indiana colleges and universities.

The International Center’s 2020 interns helped them quickly adapt their traditional plans. When they needed to pivot their fundraising endeavors, interns helped plan and execute a drive-in fundraiser. They helped the Center shift their five-month international leadership program to be hosted virtually. The International Center values each intern for the skills and education they bring to the table.

Each intern is supported by a supervisor for their work, the leadership team for their professional mentorship and an ambassador for their organization and cultural orientation. The Center’s COO also worked with the staff, board and community leaders to identify additional opportunities for interns to participate in high-level events and meetings. While the intern may serve the organization during their semester, the International Center’s staff commits to serving the intern throughout their education and professional journey.

David R. McKinnis Community Partner

TechPoint (Indianapolis)
In 2012, TechPoint launched the Xtern Program. The 10-week program provides internship opportunities to more than 100 students from around the country with Indianapolis tech companies. The interns also participate in cultural and networking activities that show off what the city has to offer. Xtern plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining future Indiana tech leaders.

The year 2020 threw the Xtern Program into limbo. The five-person talent team sprang into action and fully reimagined Xtern in fewer than six weeks. While many of the Xtern companies made their internships virtual, some unfortunately had to cancel their programs.

That’s where the Summer Opportunities for Students (S.O.S) Challenge came to the rescue. The S.O.S. Challenge provided work experience and $250,000 in stipends to 500 students from Indiana colleges and universities who lost summer internships due to COVID-19 cuts.

Students worked in teams on a COVID-related challenge. Those who completed the program received $500 each in addition to the chance at a $25,000 prize purse and giving virtual presentations to Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana tech sector leaders.


The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”