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Courtney Arango - 3/25/2013
Source: http://www.IndianaINTERN.net

WANTED: Employers to Hire Eligible Students for Internships

Question: What’s better for students than a summer job? Answer: sleeping in and watching “The Price is Right,” you say? Good guess—but we’re talking about paid internships.

If you’re unsure about internships, let us help define them. An internship is a form of structured and supervised experiential learning that provides individuals with practical experience in their chosen fields. Internships help illustrate classroom skills in the professional world. Finding a quality, paid internship allows students to produce meaningful project work, which can lead to job offers upon graduation.

Benefits of hiring interns include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced recruiting costs
  • Fresh, innovative perspectives
  • Tech-savvy team members

Beginning this summer, Indiana INTERNnet will partner with Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana to provide qualifying students access to resume-building, paid internships. In addition to the 1,000-plus internships regularly posted to Indiana INTERNnet’s web site, the new EARN Indiana positions will give qualifying students professional experience and networking opportunities, readying them for a career after graduation. Students qualifying for state financial aid are eligible for EARN Indiana. O’Bannon Fellows and 21st Century Scholars are among the largest eligible student groups.

Indiana INTERNnet’s web site provides EARN Indiana with an Internet-matching technology tool to help students find relevant positions and employers post meaningful internship opportunities—for free!

“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.”

Employers will receive state matching funds – up to 50% of a student’s hourly rate, which must meet minimum wage requirements – in exchange for hiring these 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. “We’re excited to be part of the state-sponsored movement to make sure experiential learning opportunities are available and promoted to as many students and Indiana employers as possible,” states Indiana INTERNnet Executive Director Janet Boston. “This is a significant step toward strengthening Indiana’s workforce and economy.

Several events in the education sector have led to the creation of EARN Indiana. The Division of Student Financial Aid’s (SFA) 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. SFA is a division of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE). Prior to July 1, 2012, SFA was known as the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI).

In addition to making awards, SFA promotes awareness of Indiana financial assistance programs through its website, guidance counselor workshops, financial aid nights, college fairs, community forums and other statewide events such as College Goal Sunday.

As the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI) merged with the CHE on July 1, 2012, it was important to see how the state's current financial aid programs and policies align with the Commission’s strategic plan: Reaching Higher, Achieving More.

As part of this effort, a report containing recommendations for improving the state’s work-study program was presented. The recommendations center on using the work study funding to promote experiential learning to help students cultivate career opportunities.

The report also recommends improving the recruitment efforts of students and employers to maximize the benefit of the program. Specifically, it suggests that for-profit companies—currently excluded from participation—be able to participate and that student eligibility not be restricted to those that used a financial aid award from the state. This issue is raised in House Bill 1312, which is being considered by the Indiana General Assembly during the 2013 legislative session.

More information, along with specific criteria, will be made available in upcoming editions of INTERNnetwork and on our web site, www.IndianaINTERN.net. Additionally, prospective participants should subscribe to the CHE listserv or contact Kristin Casper at (317) 233-0129, kcasper@sfa.che.in.gov with questions.