Proposed bill to create paid-internship programs, impact new graduation pathways requirement

Natalie Khamis

The Indiana General Assembly convened for its first session on Jan. 3 to discuss the enactment of new Senate and House of Representatives legislature for this year. During one of these sessions, Jeff Raatz, Senator and Senate education and career development committee chairperson, said he has proposed Senate Bill 420, that creates paid internship programs with employers in the state for students.

According to Raatz, this bill will incentivize the optional work-based learning graduation pathways requirement for the Class of 2023 through paid internships. In return, Raatz said employers would receive a tax credit for creating space within their businesses for high school student internship opportunities.

“We have difficulty with employability skills today. The workforce today is very transient. The skills of showing (up) to work on time and being dressed appropriately are missing from today’s society,” Raatz said. “My hope is that some of the issues seen after high school will be eradicated by students being able to participate in the workforce during high school at an elevated level and get paid for it.”

While CHS does not currently have an internship program in place, Melinda Stephan, college and career resource and programming coordinator, said Raatz’s proposal for a paid internship program would be a beneficial way for students to have hands-on real-world experiences as if they were employed in the workforce as well as instill motivation.

“In the real world, we get a job. We get paid,” Stephan said. “Being able to make a connection between what you’re learning and how you’re going to use that learning (through internships) is very powerful, and I think it’s more ideal to get paid for those internships, just like it is in the real world.”

After taking on an internship at the Indiana Public Defenders Council this past summer, junior Vivian Zheng said the internship was beneficial because it gave her experience working beside an attorney before going to college to pursue a degree in law. She said she agreed with Stephan and said paying students for internships provides students the chance to obtain real-world work experiences.

“A lot of (the) time students don’t want to take on internships or would rather work just because they want to make money, which is completely understandable. It’s hard to have a solid bank account when you’re in high school,” Zheng said. “Getting paid while pursuing internships to get a feel for what you want to do after high school would be very beneficial to students. It’s the best of both worlds: money and experience.”