12 Mar

Transfinder in the News - Transfinder expanding intern program as recruitment tool


Transfinder CEO Antonio Civitella has opened offices in Austin, Texas and Shanghai, China in recent years, ensuring the Schenectady transportation routing software company has all the employees that it needs to serve its 2,000 customers, most of them school districts, from around the country. 

But Civitella has decided to push forward with a somewhat less global approach to workforce development by expanding the company's internship program that it offers students from local colleges. 

Although the idea may seem outdated or old fashioned to some, Civitella and company executives believe that the extra work and expense of qualifying interns, teaching them how the company operates — and paying them — will pay dividends. 

The company is hoping to have 12 to 15 interns work there this year, up from just three interns in 2016. 

"We're always talking about how we need to keep some of these students in the area," Civitella said Monday. "We're hoping that more companies do more of this." 

Although Transfinder has a particularly strong relationship with Siena College, where Civitella got his undergraduate degree, the company also works with students from other local schools, including the University at Albany and Union College, as well as schools from outside the region, including Northeastern University and the University of Maryland. 

The students are paid an hourly wage "in the teens," said Joe Messia, the company's chief operating officer, although he declined to provide the exact figure. They can also earn college credit. 

Adding so many college interns, spread out throughout the year, isn't easy. 

Transfinder uses an online platform called VidCruiter that allows it to pose pre-recorded questions to candidates. The answers can be reviewed at any time, and Transfinder execs don't have to spend their valuable time setting up and conducting phone interviews. 

The summer internship session is particularly helpful to Transfinder because it is the company's busy season as school district transportation customers prepare for the fall semester. 

Interns work 40-hour weeks, remaining in the Capital Region instead of going home for the summer. 

"And they like it here," said Mike Bentley, director of client relations. 

The toughest jobs to fill right now in the Capital Region are software developers, or coders, since the skill is so specialized. And although the company rarely hires programmers right out of college, Civitella says the company is looking at the big picture. 

If an intern ends up going to another software company, gains valuable experience, and then returns to Transfinder one day, that would be considered a success. 

"We need more people in this area," Civitella said. "This year, we need to make a big splash."