I recently attended a talk about Indiana INTERNnet, a state-wide internship matching program.
Not knowing what to expect, I took a break from editing little Indiana THE BOOK and headed to Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana to hear from a variety of speakers about Indiana INTERNnet and EARN Indiana.
Indiana INTERNnet: A Small Business Solution
Grabbing a plate of food, I sat down at a friendly-looking table I shared with folks from the Crisis Center of Rensselaer and a small business owner. After chit chatting a bit, the presentation began with a welcome by Roy Vanderford, the Director of Strategic Solutions Center of Workforce Innovations. He shared that internships blend work-based experience with an academic learning environment. It’s the best of both worlds, as I would soon learn.
Energetic and humorous keynote presenter Jennifer Fisher, a Culture and Retention Manager at Group Dekko, took the podium.
Jennifer shared how interns consistently improved their bottom-line in a way that they hadn’t planned on!
How Do Internships Benefit Indiana Business?
For many businesses, internships sounded like a fantastic way to give kids real world experience while providing a tangible benefit to business owners. For small business owners who are often already stretched so thin, it could be a dream come true!
There are a few key points that Jennifer shared with our small group regarding the benefits of interns.
- Get help and support in areas where you need them.
- Save money on recruiting costs.
- Re-energize organizations.
- Generate great ideas!
She pointed out that these high school or college students WANT to be there. They want to be noticed and to make a difference. They’ve got a passion and energy and a desire to be useful. Yes, they may need a little patience as they get used to arrive on time and dressing for the job, but what a small business stands to get back is invaluable!
How Does a Business Set Themselves Up for Internship Success
As with most anything, there needs to be a balanced give and take. Businesses large or small need to make sure that they are, as Jennifer stated, creating experiences that are valuable assets to a resume.
We all have our idea of what an internship is, right? Kids pouring coffee, making copies, and answering the phone. But that doesn’t cut it anymore. In my opinion, kids need this peek into real life to not only up their chance of finding a job that fits later on, but to grow in a way that they can’t do through school alone.
Small businesses or large ones need to have action-oriented goals that an intern can complete. Jennifer urged us to think about the things we wanted to accomplish, all those projects we set aside because we are just too darn busy to complete them! She pointed out that interns can help with that!
Not only that, but interns may come up with new, better ways of handling things. At the company where she works, an intern each year has managed to find one way to save money that has paid for all of the interns! That was just from finally completing projects that were on the “to do” list but that no one ever actually had time to do.
When someone new comes into your business, they often see things that the people working there can’t. Think about that!
How to Find an Intern in Indiana
If, that is, the small business can find someone who fits what they need–and vice versa.
Now, where can a small business owner possibly go to match an intern? Indiana INTERNnet! This internship matching program is unique in that business owners have the ability to post internships and then comb through responders while internship hunters have the option to seek out opportunities.
Janet Boston, the Executive Director of Indiana INTERNnet took us through the process of creating a profile on Indiana INTERNnet. It’s so simple! Businesses must get approved as must your actionable list of goals. Remember, the goal isn’t just to find someone to answer your phones but to train our future leaders–and to hopefully keep them in the region!
It’s no secret that highly skilled kids are leaving Indiana. We need to have reasons that keep them here and internships that lead to job placement (in more than 50% of cases) is one way to achieve that goal. Your business may be an alternative, attractive option that these kids didn’t even know existed.
How to Pay for an Indiana Intern
You may be thinking that this sounds terrific but are curious about the associated costs. I hear you! The beauty of an internship is that you can pick and choose among students who apply. While you don’t need to pay them, if you are interested in attracting quality help, you might want to rethink that! Besides, you may even get a little help with that, too.
EARN Indiana, or Employment Aid Readiness Network, as presented by Amanda Stanley, the Director of Program Relations Indiana Commission for Higher Education, is a way to help businesses recoup some of the costs associated with an intern.
Students searching for valuable resume builders and are receiving financial aid may qualify you to receive matching state funds of up to 50%! That’s pretty huge!
Consider this: Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25. So, you could go cheap and the government will still match your contribution or you can kick it up a notch, provide a great work experience with an environment to go with it, and work on developing your own “feeder” system (as J. Fisher called it). Interns are a way to get new blood into a company, to train them well before they are ever ready to be hired–and to make them such a fan of your business that you can hire them on after they graduate!
Qualified employees include private, not for profit organizations or a for-profit company–where small businesses receive preference! ALthough an Indiana INTERNnet internship can last between one week and one year, anyone considering EARN Indiana needs to offer an internship that will last 8 weeks with 12-20 hours each week. Interns cannot complete more than 25% of administrative tasks and no more than 50% of your workforce can be interns.
Are Internships Right for You?
Like the rest of the room, I felt so on board the internship train! Although my own resources are stretched pretty thin, I realized that I have a lot to offer a potential intern.
They could learn valuable online marketing skills, how to write a script (since I do write my own PBS scripts), and how to properly format articles meant for the internet. Any intern pursuing a writing or social media career could come away from little Indiana with a lot of new skills!
So? What about you? What could you offer an intern that could help them gain great resume experience while helping your business succeed? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below.
Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is little Indiana!
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