More than 150 top tech college students are in Indianapolis today, hoping to score an internship through a program that TechPoint says can be a life-changing experience. Xtern Finalist Day aims to match the students, who were chosen from more than 1,300 applicants from throughout the country, with Indianapolis companies for full-time, paid summer internships. College-to-Career Talent Programs Director Merillat Flowers says, in addition to opening up career pathways, the program is a crucial opportunity for the city to sell itself as a place where top talent wants to live and work.

Flowers says the program continues to grow in its fourth year. Last year, the organization received about 900 applications.

Once students are chosen, TechPoint works with IUPUI to provide them with free housing, allowing them to experience Indianapolis. Flowers says students also participate in civic engagement projects, including teaching high school students how to code and creating apps for the city. 

Flowers says the TechPoint Xtern program attracts large companies, like Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) and Angie's List Inc. (Nasdaq: ANGI), as well as startups and medium-sized companies. It also involves non-tech-focused companies and organizations, such as Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY), that need to fill tech positions.

TechPoint leaders say one of the most important aspects of the initiative is the opportunity to showcase Indianapolis and Indiana as great places for top tech talent to live and work. Flowers says, fortunately, Indiana is "not hard to sell," saying its tech community is gaining a national reputation for being welcoming and supportive at a time when students seek a personal touch.

Students in town for today's event will have the opportunity to meet with around 50 companies that are looking for tech talent. Organizers sought out students from around the county studying in areas including computer science, informatics, software development and information technology. Flowers says about 85 percent of this year's finalists are from Indiana colleges.