Interview with UNC Center for Global Initiatives
By Faith Bliga
The UNC Center for Global Initiatives is an ApplicantStack customer in the higher education sector. Recently I sat down with Tripp Tuttle to talk about how they are using ApplicantStack to improve their program application process.
Can you tell me a little more about the UNC Center for Global Initiatives?
The Center for Global Initiatives is a research center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC. We help increase access to global education by funding faculty, students and staff to do research, internships or other service projects abroad. We’re funded by a variety of sources from Federal grants to University related funds.
Tripp, what is your role in the program?
I am a Program Officer and manage the majority of the funding opportunities here.
What were the challenges that led you to the decision to search for an Applicant Tracking System?
We had in the past been using paper every year and we would get an intern or a student to keep tons of information in spreadsheets so we’d have a way to store our applications. Over the past three years we’ve tried a number of automated systems.
Our first attempt was to have a Computer Science student build us a small system and we ran into some technical difficulties. The system just wasn’t scalable and sustainable for us as we added programs for our faculty, students and staff to apply to.
The second attempt was to use a web-based applicant tracking system and we also had a lot of technical difficulties because they hadn’t totally flushed out their product. We were constantly having to do odd work-arounds to make the system work for us. At that time we had 14 or 15 different programs and we needed to run reports across all of these different opportunities. Since we couldn’t run reports in this system, we had to put everything back into Excel.
The reporting feature in ApplicantStack was a big plus because we can easily build and run reports with the click of the mouse. We use the system for all of our programs.
Are there any particular places you advertise your positions?
All of our opportunities are geared to internal university staff, faculty and students so, in general, we send announcements through our formal email channels, social networks like Facebook and Twitter and other database channels on-campus like campus event calendars.
You already mentioned that reporting was important to you while researching systems. Can you pinpoint any other criteria that was important to you?
The most overriding criteria were reliability and avoiding technical issues as we approached deadlines. We also wanted to build a library of questionnaires including a customized core application that could be shared across all of our programs. Scalability is important as we are starting to add larger programs.
Can you recall why you chose ApplicantStack over other available services?
We researched several systems available to scholarship providers but their price was out of our ballpark. Their pricing models also required a lot of upfront money just to get started and pay for maintenance each year.
ApplicantStack provides us with all the features we need and is very affordable. We were also excited that you were based in North Carolina. The reporting feature really sold me.
How has your process improved since you started using ApplicantStack?
We went from a manual process to being totally automated with the ability to run reports. We have the ability to do online review with our internal reviewers and have been slowly making progress to convert individuals to use the system as they become more technically savvy. This feature saves us a lot of time and money. We can also limit reviewers’ accessibility to data they are responsible for reviewing. I also like the fact that we can drive our process ourselves.
What would your response be to someone who asked you about using ApplicantStack?
We have been really happy with ApplicantStack’s reliability, ease of use and the robust reporting feature. Reporting has become increasingly demanding when dealing with the Federal government and higher institutions including tracking EEO information related to our applicants.
My final question, just for fun … Realizing that you currently love your job, if you could have any other job in the world, other than the one you have now, what would you want to do?
The best job would be if I could be a travel reviewer who gets to travel all over the world and get paid well for doing it!
I would highly recommend this SaaS application. We are a small organisation, but require consultants for short term contracts which attract many hundreds of applications. Without ApplicantStack, it would take weeks and weeks or resources, which we simply do not have.
Chris Nial, Project Manager