INDIANAPOLIS — If you made a list of things coronavirus has canceled or postponed, you'd probably run out of paper. But on that list would be thousands of canceled internships college students were looking forward to this summer.
"So I was looking forward to interning at Angie's List where I was going to be in their cybersecurity department learning hands-on skills and a variety of things," Jessica Sebastian said.
Sebastian will be a senior at IUPUI this fall with plans to graduate next year with a degree in computer information technology before getting a second degree in law. But like at most colleges, landing an internship is a requirement to graduate. The global COVID-19 pandemic caused her internship offer to be rescinded.
"I was super bummed and I was frantically looking for something that I could kind of fill this gap because like you said internships are required for us to graduate," Sebastian said. "I was honestly like really sad. I was really down and out."
Then the phone rang with an opportunity to save Sebastian's summer and career track. TechPoint, a nonprofit that brings together Indiana's tech companies, is helping college students who've lost their summer internships due to coronavirus cuts through it's S.O.S. Challenge. The goal is to provide 500 students with paid replacement internships.
LEARN MORE & APPLY | TechPoint S.O.S. Challenge
"500 people isn't that crazy?" Sebastian said. "500 of us students across various different platforms we get to join in on this opportunity to make a difference."
The interns will be issued a team challenge to solve a real-life issue caused by the pandemic. The intern team with the best idea will give a presentation to Gov. Eric Holcomb and share a $25,000 prize.
Sebastian has already been selected and has a simple message for students needing to land their next big break.
"Apply. Jump in, come on and join the team, especially if you have an idea or you see something that our society or Indianapolis needs that has occurred during this pandemic that's what we're looking for," Sebastian said. "Peple who are excited and want to get experience this summer."
Participants must apply by June 1. The Challenge begins June 15 and ends July 17.
"We wanted to do something bold, so we brought together our community of members and partners — the leaders among employers, universities, government and philanthropy and as usual, our community stepped up," Mike Langellier, TechPoint president and CEO said in a statement. "Our many years of experience working with our Xtern students in the ultimate summer internship program, put us in a unique position to find a creative way to help as many students as we could."
"This is a fantastic idea, and I can't wait to see what solutions this next generation of talent comes up with," Holcomb said. "The S.O.S. Challenge is a tangible example of what makes this state's tech community so special and why Indiana is the place to be if you want to start or grow a tech company."