“We have had great interns in the past, but we saw very quickly that City Scholars provide the type of ROI that we hadn’t seen before,” said Preston Taylor, Director of Talent for Cars.com.
For instance, one of the first cohort of interns in 2018 helped build a tool that the company would normally pay an outside vendor $10K to complete.
“We still utilize the tool today and have found broader purposes for it across the organization,” Taylor said.
Another intern wrote code that directly improved the second-busiest page on the Cars.com website.
Taylor said that Cars.com saw the value in City Scholars from the beginning with a mission to keep top talent in the Midwest, specifically the booming tech community in Chicago.
“There is a war for talent across the nation right now and the deeper roots we can have with some of the best schools like Illinois, the more successful we’re going to be as an organization in growing our business.”
Cars.com has around 1500 employees in cities like Waltham, Massachusetts; Santa Monica, California; and Austin, Texas, with about 40 percent of those in its downtown Chicago office. The company has employed City Scholars in data engineering, mobile, and software engineering to date.
Taylor praised City Scholars for helping match student interests with the needs of the business and says Cars.com has experienced the benefit of having students both study and work during the same semester.
“By aligning what’s interesting to them in the classroom to what is interesting to them in the real world, then I think it’s a win-win all around,” Taylor said. “It allows the students to take something neat and cool that they learn during the week and immediately apply it to the business setting they are working in.”
Taylor believes interns will share their positive experience of working in the Chicago tech community, and for Cars.com, to fellow students at Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering as the company continues to build its brand.
“Good tech talent is becoming ever harder to find, especially in a growing tech market like Chicago,” Taylor reiterated. “Partnerships at this level with some of the best engineering schools in the country like the University of Illinois are absolutely critical to our long-term success. With that initial investment, it is going to pay for itself well into the future as we bring on top-talented engineers, not only as interns, but eventually as full-time members of our team.”