(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Indiana INTERNnet is working with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to grow the number of internships statewide. Beginning this fall, for-profit employers in Indiana are eligible to apply for matching funds through the new Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana program. All intern-employer matches will be made via Indiana INTERNnet, a statewide resource for internship opportunities managed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Through EARN Indiana, a revamp of the state's work study program, students offered state financial aid have access to resume-building and experiential, paid internships. In addition, employers receive state matching funds in exchange for hiring these students. The goal is to better match students and employers to maximize each student's academic success and career achievement, as well as to assist employers in finding a good fit for their team.

Employers with approved positions receive state matching funds -- up to 50% of a student's hourly rate, which must meet minimum wage requirements -- in exchange for hiring EARN-eligible students. All employers (both non-profit and for-profit) are encouraged to now submit positions for EARN Indiana participation.

"Internships have proven to increase students' employability by providing real-world, hands-on work experience," said Indiana INTERNnet Executive Director Janet Boston. "Increasing these paid opportunities is a critical workforce development strategy for Indiana. Opening the EARN Indiana program to for-profits is another step in the right direction."

The catalyst to revamp the previous work-study program was a report by Thomas P. Miller and Associates containing recommendations for improving the old program. The recommendations centered on using the work-study funding to promote experiential learning to help students cultivate career opportunities.

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

More information, along with specific criteria, is available on www.IndianaINTERN.net. Additionally, prospective participants should subscribe to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education's listserv or contact Amanda Stanley at (317) 234-8232 or earnindiana@che.in.gov with questions.

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The Indiana Chamber of Commerce partners with 15,000 members and investors -- representing 2.6 million Hoosiers -- to achieve the mission of "cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity."

Indiana INTERNnet, a program managed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, exists to increase the quantity and quality of experiential learning in the state of Indiana in order to retain top talent.

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