Purdue's Interns for Indiana Program Helping Regional Companies Meet Competitive Demands
March 5, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - For Christopher Barbauld, Purdue University's Interns for Indiana (IfI) program has opened the door for the launch of not one but two companies. And the Purdue Calumet graduate isn't finished yet.
Barbauld participated in two IfI internships in 2006. He has since started two companies - first, Realty Papers Inc., and then The Barbauld Agency, a Valparaiso full-service marketing and advertising agency that emphasizes a research-based strategy and non-traditional advertising for clients, primarily located in the Midwest. And he now has a patent pending with his concept behind Realty Papers.
"Interns for Indiana gave me a true understanding of how to apply textbook marketing principles in the real world," he says. "It was an exciting experience that caused me to choose a marketing degree rather than a general business degree."
Launched in 2004, Interns for Indiana is designed to enhance student learning by facilitating practical hands-on experiences for all majors. Primarily funded by the Lilly Endowment, the program has matched nearly 500 Purdue students with internships at 160 Indiana startup companies and provided more than 200,000 combined hours of labor.
"Interns for Indiana, now open to high-tech startup company applications for summer 2012, has an impressive history of providing excellent experiential learning opportunities for students at four Purdue campuses," says program sustainability coordinator Monica Shively.
"Students develop entrepreneurial knowledge and skills, as well as technological knowledge and workplace skills. And we are supporting the growth of Indiana startup companies, facilitating creation of desirable jobs for college graduates here in state."
Applications are being accepted for the summer through the online system until March 22. Interns work a minimum of 400 hours for the summer term, which runs from May 14 to Aug. 17.
Interest in the program led by the Discovery Learning Research Center continues to surge, particularly for students looking to position themselves for quality jobs after graduation. About 60 percent of the participants, for example, have remained in Indiana after graduation. Program alumni have started at least 18 companies.
During the academic year, scheduling is flexible to accommodate student class schedules. International students and students of all majors are eligible to participate. Requirements for students and participating companies are as follows:
* Student requirements: To qualify for Interns for Indiana, participants must be an undergraduate student at the West Lafayette, Calumet, North Central or Fort Wayne campuses in a full-time, degree-seeking program and have a junior standing or greater with minimum 2.8 GPA.
* Company requirements: To utilize IfI students, the company must be a for-profit Indiana high-tech startup. The company also must have challenging assignments related to the student's interests, education and experience.
As an IfI participant through Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Kelsey Hostetler joined EXTENSION INC., a health-care focused software developer in Fort Wayne, in June 2010, just a year after the company was launched.
From the onset, she tackled multiple projects - those that may normally fall outside of the scope of a marketing intern such as campaign budgeting and performance tracking, data entry and maintenance, and market research. She also led social media efforts and helped manage its communication calendar.
"As a small company, everyone wears many hats, and that was no different for Kelsey," says Whitney St. Pierre, director of marketing at EXTENSION. "Kelsey excelled in her internship and is now working with us as a full-time employee. We are very happy with our experience with Purdue's Interns for Indiana program."
For Calvin Greishaber, his experience through Purdue Calumet in the summer of 2010 translated into full-time employment at FFC Fencing Co. in Cedar Lake, Ind. Not that that was his plan. He knew it would provide a chance to network, meet people, build his resume and gain a strong recommendation from a reputable Indiana company.
"My IFI experience let me see all of the possible career opportunities that my degree gave me. It showed me that there were many more options available to me than I had thought," he says. "It allowed me to look at a much broader spectrum of career paths. It was also a way for me to get some real-world experience and identify my strengths and work on my weaknesses."
Recognizing the limited financial resources of most startup companies, especially during a tough economy, the program attempts to keep company costs for skilled interns as low as possible.
Another key reason for creating the program was the "brain drain" issue facing the state, in which Indiana's talented college graduates leave in search of high-paying, high-tech jobs in large metropolitan cities, particularly on the East and West coasts, Shively says.
In addition, the program boosts the quality of Indiana's workforce by providing experiences that encourage top-quality Purdue students to seek in-state employment after graduation, while driving economic development and job creation by supporting high-tech startup companies.
That was central for Greishaber.
"I always wanted to stay in Indiana after I graduated, but I was concerned that I may have to venture out of the state to accomplish what I wanted to as a professional," he says. "IfI showed me that there were many more career opportunities in fields that I had never previously considered. It showed me that having an agriculture degree didn't limit me to a career in an agricultural field."
- Monica Shively
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