Indiana college and high school students take note! Although there’s still a full semester of the school year to go, Indiana INTERNnet is kicking off intern recruiting season now with the help of strategic partner, digital talent recruitment company WorkHere and its live chat team. I recently sat down with Indiana INTERNnet E

xecutive Director Mike Slocum to get the inside story on the program, its partnership with WorkHere and the power of live chat.

WH: For the uninitiated, what is Indiana INTERNnet?

MS: It’s an innovative program managed by the Indiana Chamber of Comm

erce that’s designed to retain talented young people in our state by connecting students with experiential learning opportunities with employers across the state. We know internships work. Nationally, up to 50 percent of internships lead to full-time employment. At the core on Indiana INTERNnet is a dynamic, searchable database linking employers, students, high schools, and universities plus a personal assistance component that helps individuals make the best match. 

What makes the program even better that it’s free for students and employers. Plus, employers can get up to 50 percent of their interns’ wages from the state if they hire Employment Aid Readiness Network (EARN) Indiana-eligible students.

WH: Why did you select WorkHere as a strategic partner in 2019?
MS: I met WorkHere founders Howard Bates and Mike Seidle several years ago when I was at Ivy Tech Community College. I was really impressed with what they were doing to disrupt the employee recruitment industry. After I joined Indiana INTERNnet, I thought WorkHere could play an instrumental role in connecting Indiana’s top student talent with in-state internships and jobs.

WH: Why is WorkHere a good fit with Indiana INTERNnet?
MS: Our program matches students with employer-sponsored internships in all 92 counties in the state. Our goal is two-fold: create a talent pipeline for employers and help students get the experience they need for full-time employment with Indiana’s top companies. WorkHere fits neatly into our strategy. The combination of services—geofenced talent sourcing, digital ad campaigns, and live SMS chat—are very effective in creating talent pipelines in specific locations, engaging with internship seekers and converting them into successful candidates.

WH: Indiana INTERNnet is WorkHere’s first live chat customer. Did you know you were a guinea pig?
MS: (Laughs) I had no idea, but I do like being first. WorkHere’s live SMS chat makes a ton of sense for our program. Our primary customers are ages 16-24. This is a group that relies on smartphones for virtually everything they do. Text is this generation’s go-to for communicating. Young adults would much rather text than email or call. If we want to help them find internships, we have to be where they are—on their phones, texting. WorkHere makes it really easy. Students click on a logo on our website and within seconds they’re chatting with a live person about an internship they’re interested in. It doesn’t get any better than live chat when you’re trying to connect students with internships.

WorkHere’s live chat also fits well operationally with our digital work environment. We’re serving our audience 24/7. Having a dedicated chat team available to handle initial inquiries and do light screening speeds the recruitment process and frees my team to work at the higher end of their credentials.

WH: What concerns do students have about internships? How does live chat address them?
MS: The biggest concern is “Am I going to get paid?” Here’s the good news: Eighty percent of internships on our site are paid. Students earn an average of $13 per hour. Another concern is the length of internships. Some students want summer only. Others would like to intern beyond the summer months. Some want an “intern-to-hire” situation. WorkHere’s live chat team is the perfect way to answer internship seekers’ questions and help them find the right opportunity.

WH: What kind of results have you seen using WorkHere?
MS: 2019 was Indiana INTERNnet’s most successful year ever. More than 15,000 students used our site last year. Summer is our busiest season and we had well above 10,000 students looking for internships. The number of internships offered in 2019 was up as well. A total of 4,174 internships were posted last year. As of January 1, 2020, we have 8,140 companies across the state registered on the site, with 1,275 internships posted, and 5,178 students currently searching. Those numbers will spike up as we get into the recruiting season.

WH: What other features of WorkHere have worked for you?
MS: The goal of the program is to help students find internships that meet specific criteria. Things like an industry they want or a company located close to home or campus. WorkHere is very good at hyper-local, geofenced digital ad campaigns that allow us to target and connect internship seekers with opportunities in the preferred industry and location. One of the challenges we have is finding students and internship opportunities in Indiana’s rural communities. WorkHere’s ability to geotarget specific areas of the state is a huge help.

WH: When should students sign-up for Indiana INTERNnet?
MS: Internships used to be largely seasonal, but now companies offer internships year-round. Summer is still the busy season and large companies start recruiting students for summer internships in January. There’s so much competition for students, we refer to it as a “war for talent.” My advice for students is to register with Indiana INTERNnet as soon as possible so they can land good internships. It’s also good to intern with multiple companies.

WH: What are your goals for Indiana INTERNnet in the new year?
MS: We want to continue to expand the number of internships offered and students served by 10 percent year-over-year. I’m optimistic we’ll do bigger numbers than that! I’d also like to see us expand our high school internships program as internships will be a graduation requirement in Indiana in a few years.

WH: Do you have any challenges for WorkHere in 2020?
MS: I’ve promised my bosses another growth year so WorkHere, let’s make it happen! I’m super excited to see what 2020 and the next few years bring!