Indiana is launching a new statewide initative to teach students about the value of internships and other work-based experiences that can boost their job prospects in an increasingly competitive economy, the state's higher education commissioner said Monday.
Commissioner Teresa Lubbers said the Career Ready campaign will debut in late April as part of Gov. Mike Pence's challenge to Indiana companies to add 10,000 internships and other work-based learning experiences for students. The new push is a partnership between the commission, companies and colleges.
Lubbers said the Career Ready campaign will teach high school and college students about "meaningful" career and workplace experiences they can pursue.
"This effort will teach more students about Indiana's wide range of career opportunities — from job-shadowing to internships — that make them better prepared and more attractive to employers," Lubbers said during her annual state of higher education address at the Statehouse.
She said that with employers demanding better-educated workers, internships and other on-the-job experiences that are available to both high school and college students can help them as they pursue their educations while dreaming of landing a job in their field of choice.
Lubbers said recent Gallup-Purdue Index findings showed that only 6 percent of college graduates nationwide said they had "a meaningful internship or job in college."
The Pence administration's Indiana Career Council and regional work councils are working to get the state's companies to add 10,000 internships in the years ahead.
On Monday, Lubbers encouraged the state's colleges and universities to work with businesses to incorporate internships into their degree programs.
"We want work-and-learn experiences to become the new standard on our campuses and in our classrooms," she said.
The Career Ready Campaign will link students with internships, and job shadowing and training experiences in their area of interest through a website and regional career fairs. Colleges and schools will also hold career events and be encouraged to incorporate elements of the campaign into daily lessons.
Brandon Morgeson, a 22-year-old who will graduate in May from Ball State University with a degree in communications studies, landed an internship with the Indiana Senate last year after hearing about the chamber's internships during a college job fair.
Morgeson said the paid internship has given him invaluable on-the-job experience, even though he hasn't decided exactly what career he'll pursue.
"I feel like I got lucky with my internship. I see so many of my friends graduating and they're just going straight home and not getting jobs," Morgeson said.