The Right Connections.

Author:LEWERS, CHRISTINE
Position:The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce's INTERN netconnects College students and employers
 
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How Indiana employers and college interns find each other

As higher-education coordinator with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Taray Delemore likes to ask college students throughout the state what they think their internship and full-time employment prospects are in Indiana.

The results might surprise a lot of Indiana businesses.

"Students have no knowledge of the types of industry and employment opportunities in Indiana," says Delemore, who thinks such a student/employer disconnect is major factor behind Indiana's "brain drain" and 50th-place ranking among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the number of residents 25 and older with baccalaureate degrees. "I'd meet a geology major in Muncie who wanted an internship in Indianapolis and would ask me 'Where do I go?'"

In May the chamber launched Indiana INTERNnet (http://www.indianaintern.net) in part to answer that question and to stem the tide of college graduates leaving the state. The program links employers, students, colleges and universities through a Web site and a toll-free hotline. Indiana INTERNnet is primarily funded by Lilly Endowment, with other sponsors including Anthem, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, the state of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Commerce, the Indiana Technology Partnership, the Lumina Foundation, the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Why focus on internships? Delemore says more than 50 percent of interns accept full-time positions for the companies with which they have interned, according to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

"We sought to create a vehicle to connect Indiana colleges and employers," says Delemore. "Internships were among ways to leverage business/education partnerships."

Not only does Indiana INTERNnet help employers find interns and vice versa, the program also offers resume building, interviewing tips and internship advice for students as well as help for employers in contacting and building relationships with career centers throughout Indiana.

"There is probably a wealth of opportunities Out there that could be developed," says Sheila Spisak, associate director of the career center at Ball State University. However, small and medium-sized companies often need help getting internship programs off the ground, she says.

She suggests companies interested in hiring interns start by gaining a basic understanding of the different types of...

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