New funding source makes Xtern internship program more affordable for startups

In an effort to place more summer interns at Hoosier startups, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is investing $300,000 in TechPoint’s Xtern program.

Indianapolis-based TechPoint, a not-for-profit organization that works to strengthen the state’s tech sector, announced the IEDC funding this week. The purpose of the funding, called the Xtern Startup Assistance Program, is to make it more affordable for small startups to hire Xterns.

Xtern is a competitive program in which college students are matched with employers for 10-week paid summer internships. Students are also provided with free housing in either Indianapolis or Muncie as well as professional networking, community-service and social opportunities.

For their part, employers agree to pay their Xterns wages of between $15 and $25 per hour. Companies also pay a $4,000-per-Xtern fee to help offset the program’s housing and programming costs.

The Xtern Startup Assistance Program will help defray costs for 50 Xterns who are placed at Indiana-based startups in the summer of 2023. Specifically: $100,000 will be used to cover half of the $4,000 fees and $200,000 will cover half of the students’ wages.

The IEDC said it views the funding as an expansion of its existing workforce training efforts, which have traditionally focused on adults already in the workforce.

“Indiana is in a global competition for talent, and TechPoint’s Xtern program is a proven, highly popular and effective way to generate much of the talent we need,” Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers said in a prepared statement.

To qualify for the assistance, a startup must have been in business for no more than 10 years, have 25 or fewer employees and be focused on things that will help Indiana “thrive in the Digital Age” in sectors such as agriculture, education, life sciences and advanced manufacturing, TechPoint said. Preference will be given to companies that have been in operation for five years or less and have fewer than 10 employees.

The program holds a lot of appeal for Eric Stanley of Carmel, the founder and CEO of Minority Moves Network Inc, or M2N.

Stanley founded M2N in November 2019. The startup has developed a job-search and career-development platform for what Stanley describes as “underestimated” job-seekers—those whose race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, veteran status, age, educational status or other attributes might make it harder to find a job that suits them.

M2N has five employees and one intern, a Ball State University student whom Stanley said is “adding tremendous value to our organization” as it prepares to launch its platform for beta testing.

Stanley said he definitely plans to apply for an Xtern—something that wouldn’t be financially possible for his small company if not for the Xtern Startup Assistance Program. “We are all wearing a lot of hats here, so any time that we have the ability to add someone who can help, there’s a lot of benefits there.”

Interested startups should visit TechPoint’s Xtern Startup Assistance Program page at techpoint.org/xtern-startup.

For companies of all sizes, TechPoint will host a webinar from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Wednesday to explain how the Xtern program works.

The deadline for all employers to commit to the program is Oct. 14, and companies will be matched with Xterns at a Fall Finalist Day event on Nov. 18. The employer registration page can be found here.

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