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Janet Boston - 6/13/2013
Source: http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/contributors.asp?ID=2618

The collaboration between Indiana INTERNnet and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) will provide employers a resource for posting their internship openings and finding interns. This new state work-study program is now called Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana (www.in.gov/ssaci/2340.htm).

Indiana INTERNnet’s web site (www.indianaintern.net) is serving as the platform for these student-employer matches to take place through the EARN program. Students and employers complete a brief web site application with the CHE reporting eligibility status back to the applicant. EARN-eligible students and employers will be designated by the EARN Indiana logo on the web site.

Employers will receive state matching funds – up to half of a student’s hourly rate, which must meet minimum wage requirements ($7.25) – in exchange for hiring qualifying students. At this time, a qualified employer may be an approved college or university, a unit of state or local government or a private, not-for-profit organization. Students qualifying for need-based state financial aid, including the Frank O’Bannon Award and the 21st Century Scholarship, are eligible for EARN Indiana.

Beginning this fall, internships with for-profit companies – currently excluded from participation – will also be eligible for EARN reimbursement. This expansion was part of House Bill 1312, passed by the Indiana General Assembly during the 2013 legislative session. This legislation will particularly aid start-ups and small businesses and expand the pool of employers offering meaningful, compensated internships to students.

Several events in the education sector led to the creation of EARN Indiana.

The Division of Student Financial Aid (SFA) is now a division of the CHE. Prior to July 1, 2012, SFA was known as the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI). SFA’s mission is to make college affordable through need-based financial aid and to allow choice by granting awards to those attending public, independent and proprietary colleges. EARN Indiana is managed by SFA.

CHE’s strategic plan, Reaching Higher, Achieving More, contains goals for improving the state’s work-study program. The recommendations center on using the work study funding to promote experiential learning to help students cultivate career opportunities. Employers play a critical role in developing the next generation of professionals, and hiring interns is a mutually beneficial way of helping to strengthen Indiana’s workforce.

Benefits of hiring interns include:
• Bring fresh, innovative perspectives and skills to your organization
• Increase productivity
• Complete project work that may be on the backburner
• Reduce recruiting costs
• Mentor and cultivate our future workforce leaders
• Exhibit corporate citizenship
• Encourage students to stay in their local community
• Offer management experience to employees working as intern supervisors

An internship is a form of structured and supervised experiential learning that provides individuals with practical experience in their chosen fields. Internships allow students to utilize classroom skills in the professional world.

“It is not an overstatement to say that Indiana’s future depends on the education level of our citizens,” says Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers. “Increasing college completion is our passport to opportunity and prosperity, and we must embrace this challenge with a sense of urgency and shared responsibility.”

Indiana INTERNnet is excited to be part of the movement to make sure experiential learning opportunities are available and promoted to as many students in Indiana as possible. This is a great resource for employers as well, and it’s a step toward strengthening Indiana’s workforce and economy.

More information, along with specific criteria, is available on the Indiana INTERNnet web site, www.IndianaINTERN.net. Additionally, prospective participants can subscribe to the CHE listserv (http://lists.in.gov/mailman/listinfo/earnindiana) or contact Amanda Stanley at (317) 234-8232 or earnindiana@che.in.gov with questions.

Janet Boston is executive director of Indiana INTERNnet.