TechPoint’s signature Xtern program has helped attract and retain tech talent to Indiana for nearly 10 years, but the companies that have benefitted most from the early career development effort are established companies. Exciting young startups – which could one day grow into local or global giants – often don’t have a robust budget or structure to attract talent, provide training and offer amenities to engage these young professionals in pursuing lifelong careers in Central Indiana.
That will change next year, thanks to a $300,000 investment in the Xtern program by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) which for years has invested in workforce training grants. Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers sees TechPoint’s Xtern Startup Assistance Program as a smart expansion of IEDC’s workforce training efforts, which traditionally target adult workers in need of learning new skills to adapt to evolving technology and to help Hoosier businesses thrive.
“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,” Chambers said. “This is a solid investment in growing our own talent to meet the demands of the future as we continue to recruit new economic development in established sectors as well as new ones like microchip and battery innovation.”
TechPoint President and CEO Ting Gootee said the assistance program is part of the organization’s examination of how best to continue its mission of helping Hoosier tech and tech-driven companies access all the resources they need to succeed.
NEXT Studios Managing Entrepreneur John McDonald helps Hoosier entrepreneurs develop their ideas, launch startups and take their products to market. He said the Xtern startup initiative should be well received by Indiana’s tech community.
“Entrepreneurs are deep on ideas but usually short on the talented people they need to get their innovations to market,” he said. “We’ll definitely be spreading the word throughout our network to match up companies with the Xterns. It’s a great short-term help for the startups but also a great way to grow even more entrepreneurs.”
Chelsea Linder, a Partner at gener8tor which runs accelerators for startups across Indiana, appreciated that the Startup Assistance Program focus is statewide. “Indiana is full of smart and eager entrepreneurs, and it’s great to see TechPoint and the IEDC reaching outside central Indiana to offer this really valuable help,” she said.
Gootee said TechPoint staff has spent much of 2022 looking at how best Indiana can overcome the global talent challenge, which it has described as a perfect storm of a large number of retirees, fewer workers to replace them and increased demand for tech workers. Part of the solution is the creation of new pathways to great jobs and a collaborative effort to grow Indiana’s tech workforce by 41,000 workers by 2030 across the board in startup, scale-up and enterprise level Hoosier companies. An examination of existing programming showed that in the 2022 Xtern class, only 17 of the 139 students were employed by startup companies.
Examples of innovative Indiana startups that may qualify for the program include Afterschool HQ (Fishers), Alleo (Carmel), Encamp (Indianapolis), Folia (Bloomington), GroWiser (Avon), LeagueJoe (Broad Ripple), M2N (Indianapolis), ModicusPrime (LaPorte), NavigateMaternity (Fort Wayne), Qualifi (Indianapolis), RxLightning (New Albany) and XR Technologies (Indianapolis), Gootee said.
“These companies, and many others, are pushing the envelope into new and exciting areas that will enable Indiana to showcase its innovative spirit and abilities,” she said. “To get there, they’ll need as much smart, fresh talent as they can get, and this should be a great help to them.”
The Xtern program does more than give college students a well-paid, 10-week-long summer internship. They also receive – at no cost to them – housing, professional development, civic engagement opportunities and social networking designed to help them see Indiana as a place to begin and grow their careers. Survey data consistently shows that about 25 percent of the Xterns enter the program likely to live and work in Indiana after college. Ten weeks later, more than 70 percent of them say they’re likely to stay in Indiana, and more than half of the Xtern alumni start their careers in Indiana.
Companies that employ Xterns are charged $4,000 per student to offset the wrap-around experience costs. Startup companies, some with bootstrapped funding, operate on much leaner budgets and may not be able to justify the upfront cost of hosting an Xtern. Under the agreement, IEDC will match 50 percent of the costs for 50 Xterns who would be available exclusively to Indiana-headquartered startups that:
Since 2014, TechPoint’s Xtern program has connected more than 1,300 college students with summer internship positions with 150 employers in the Indiana tech ecosystem. The recruitment pipeline attracts applications annually from more than 2,000 college students from more than 200 universities across the country.
Chambers said the idea to work with the Xtern program came from an intern working with the IEDC after researching many different potential solutions to the challenge of keeping talent in Indiana.
Hoosier startups interested in hiring an Xtern should visit the Xtern Startup Assistance site.
TechPoint will bring the additional Xterns into its 2023 summer program. Students can learn more and apply here until October 10.
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