Hundreds of students and more than 50 companies from small startups, to enterprise-level organizations came together last week at historic Union Station in downtown Indianapolis. Each student was vying for a coveted spot for summer 2024 in what is now known coast-to-coast as “the ultimate tech internship program,” and potentially full-time jobs after college, too. As TechPoint staff members in our first year with the organization, it was our opportunity to witness the very well-organized chaos that is the not-so-secret sauce of the Xtern program.

If we learned anything from the eight-plus hours we spent surrounded by the hopeful, determined young tech workers, it was that there is no need to worry about whether or not the next generation of tech workers is up to the challenges we face. We’re going to be fine. Better than fine, in fact. 

The recruitment process by the numbers: 

  • 2,455 resumes were submitted and reviewed 
  • 809 work samples were graded  
  • 349 student profiles were sent for review to host companies 
  • From that, 135 students representing 33 universities and 20 home states were selected to take part in Fall Finalist Day.  

The enthusiasm was palpable as both employers and students arrived, some even an hour ahead of schedule, demonstrating their eagerness to engage with each other. Notably, this event saw the inclusion of employers from South Bend, marking an expansion of the program beyond central Indiana. 

The day opened up with Mike Rutz, CEO of MakeMyMove  and ended with closing notes from Alycia Perrotto, Managing Partner, Enterprise Sales, Verizon Wireless. A common thread in their narratives was the pivotal role relationships played in their journeys to success.  

Rutz also reminded the crowd that the interviews would be a two-way street. 

“Xtern isn’t just about employers choosing students, but the students choosing you,” he said. “They have a choice in the matter, and they’re among the best candidates you’ll see, so remember you’re being interviewed, too. We want to retain these people, so don’t be shy about highlighting the many things that will make them see why Indiana is where they want to be.” 

Lunch conversations with hiring pros included rave reviews for candidate’s interview skills and experience. Many said they dreaded the task of culling the list to their open spots because every candidate so far had been well-qualified. 

“Finalist Day lived up to the hype,” said Sean Haas, Garatoni-Smith Family Foundation director of the Work Based Learning Hub and Ivy Tech Community College South Bend/Elkhart director of work-based learning. “Our employers were impressed before the 17th with the approach to recruiting talent, but walked away after the event with a far better understanding of the efforts put in by the team at Tech Point. The day ran like a well-oiled machine and demonstrated the stability of this program for our area employers.” 

Startup companies were especially appreciative of funding from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to supplement their hiring through the IEDC Xtern Startup Program.  

“Startups are lean, mean machines, so adding help is essential but sometimes hard in the early stages,” said Alleo CTO Scott Herren. “The IEDC support is such a great way to afford the help we need while growing our future talent pipeline.” 

Some companies that attended Fall Finalist Day not to hire but to explore the program were blown away by the process and the caliber of candidates. We’re optimistic that a good portion of these touring companies were prepared to take their shot next year during Spring Finalist Day.  

The Xtern program attracts and develops top tech talent and also serves as a means to showcase the opportunities and lifestyle available in Indiana. By providing Xterns with a chance to experience the state firsthand, the program aims to retain that talent locally.  

“This is a crucial aspect as it contributes to the overall growth and sustainability of Indiana’s tech ecosystem, helping to build a pool of skilled professionals who choose to establish their careers in Indiana long term,” said Dennis Trinkle, TechPoint’s Senior Vice President, Talent, Strategy, and Partnerships. 

If you’re a company that missed out on Fall Finalist Day, don’t despair. You’ll have another chance come spring. If you’ve been wanting to host a student, have an established program, or just want to learn more, give either of us a call or drop us an email. We love to talk about the Xtern program.