TechPoint launches $250,000 S.O.S. Challenge for 500 students who lost summer internships due to COVID-19 

May 27, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS (May 27, 2020) — Thousands of college students from across the U.S. have lost on-site summer internships due to COVID-19, but 500 of those college students from Indiana are getting some help thanks to a new challenge being launched by TechPoint, Indiana’s industry-led, nonprofit tech sector growth initiative.

The Summer Opportunities for Students (S.O.S.) Challenge will provide up to 500 students from Indiana colleges and universities a five-week summer experience, helping them strengthen their resumes, demonstrate skills, and make professional connections. Students will work in teams on a COVID-related challenge. Additionally, each student who completes the program will receive a $500 stipend, plus a chance at additional prizes.

The student teams will be assigned “coaches” from a pool of 200 volunteers from the Indiana tech community. Nine real-world, COVID-19 related challenge topics have been identified, including workplace and work-from-home environments, telehealth, restaurants & small businesses, sports and entertainment events, e-learning, schools, community-based organizations, tourism, and transportation. Teams will choose a challenge category and will learn about the focus areas from subject matter experts, in addition to doing their own research. Teams will be asked to prepare a product prototype and go-to-market plan that can help address solutions to COVID-related problems or that can create new opportunities. These products will be presented virtually to a TechPoint panel of judges.

Winners will share a prize purse of $25,000. From each of the nine challenge topics a winning team will be chosen to receive $2,500 per team. Three teams will be selected to present to Governor Eric Holcomb. Additionally, one team will win the $2,500 “fan favorite” award for most public votes.

The S.O.S. Challenge welcomes undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students to apply. Preference will be given to students from universities that are TechPoint members, which will help identify and recruit the Challenge participants: Ball State University, Butler University, DePauw University, Franklin College, Indiana University, Indiana University-Purdue University, Ivy Tech, Purdue University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Western Governors University Indiana and Wabash College.

Participants must apply here 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,” said Mike Langellier, TechPoint president and CEO. “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,” Governor 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.”

Interactions with the industry coaches will enable students to expand their professional networks and get visibility into different companies while helping employers to identify top talent they may want to hire.

More than 50 tech employers signed up to provide coaches and assist TechPoint’s efforts to help displaced summer interns. Companies include Allegion, Angie’s List, Appirio, Atrium, Authenticx, Baker Hill, Brite Systems, Carbonite, Centric Consulting, Cisco, ClearObject, CNO Financial Group, Codelicious, Comcast Business, Cummins, Delta Faucet Company, DemandJump, DewPoint, Dynatrace, EduSource, Eli Lilly and Company, Emplify, Fineline Printing Group, Genesys, Google, High Alpha, Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, Infosys, JobVite, KAR Global, Kinney Group, Lena Works, Lev, MetaCX, NextGear Capital, Olio, One Click Ventures, OneCause, Ontario Systems, Peopleocity, PFL, Polis Center, Pondurance, Qumulex, Rocketbuild, Salesforce, SEP, Springbuk, Stanley Security, T2 Systems, Twilio, U.Group, Upper Hand and Verizon Wireless.

Comments from Leaders at Participating Companies

Sherry Aaholm, vice president and chief information officer at Cummins, Inc. and chair of the TechPoint Board’s Executive Committee: “Times like this call for business leaders to step up in big and small ways. This S.O.S. Challenge provides a perfect opportunity for us to make an impact in the lives of people in our communities.”

Syam Nair, executive vice president of Technology for Salesforce: “Indianapolis is incredibly important for Salesforce and is one of our largest hubs outside of San Francisco. This is a natural opportunity for us to band together with the local tech community and build the talent pipeline here.”

Scott Dorsey, co-founder and managing partner at High Alpha: “Thanks to the TechPoint team for moving so quickly and dreaming big with the S.O.S Challenge. I am thrilled to see these students have an opportunity to gain experience, make an impact and see what makes our tech community shine!”

The S.O.S. Challenge is a new component within TechPoint’s talent-focused offerings, which is headlined by its Xtern program, which has placed 731 students into internships with 131 local tech employers since 2013. S.O.S. Challenge students will meet virtually with tech leaders, get a virtual introduction to Indianapolis and engage in professional development experiences that prepare them to land a job in the future.

“We know college students use the summer to earn money to see them through the school year, but they can take part in the S.O.S Challenge and also have a job,” said Merillat Flowers, TechPoint’s senior director of Talent Programs & Team Development. “Presenting their work to the governor and CEOs of Indiana’s tech community should give their resumes a huge boost and give them some incredible practical experience.”

Funding for the S.O.S. Challenge comes from a portion of a 2017 Lilly Endowment, Inc. grant to the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) Foundation for TechPoint and its Xtern program. Learn more about the challenge here.

About TechPoint

TechPoint is the nonprofit, industry-led growth accelerator for Indiana’s technology companies and overall tech ecosystem. The team is focused on attracting talent, accelerating scale-up companies, activating the community, and amplifying stories of success. For more, visit www.techpoint.org.