Stefanie Gill of IntWork
Every Month Peloton Labs founder Liz Trice interviews a Peloton member for the West End News. This month Liz caught up with Stefanie Gill, the owner of IntWork, a Maine-based company that provides diversity staffing and outplacement to support Maine employers.
You place a lot of skilled immigrants. How did you happen to start IntWork recruiting?
Maine employers are always looking for talent, yet many employers don’t connect with skilled diverse professionals. IntWork fills the gap between these candidates and Maine employers needing engineering, tech, business, finance, HR, legal and operations talent. Maine’s immigrants are 53% more likely to have an advanced degree than the average Mainer (NAE).
After years of making successful placements pro-bono through MANA, in 2015 I recruited a team of immigrant professionals and women business leaders to join me at “Startup Weekend – Women’s Edition” to develop a sustainable business model. That collaborative effort provided the basis for IntWork, launched at Startup Maine in 2018.
How did you start working with immigrants?
In 1975. Maine’s first Vietnamese refugees lived with my family for six full months. After that, I grew up fascinated by languages, and became fluent in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese. I later spent 7 years redesigning immigrant services across NYC hospitals before returning to Maine to start a family. Being Multilingual in Maine has resulted in many serendipitous interactions with immigrants resulting in a diverse network of individuals.
Some people worry that immigrants take jobs from locals, is that true?
No. There is a shortage of trained engineering professionals in the US, particularly in Maine. Unless that gap is filled, it hurts the economy. When you hire a Foreign-born STEM worker with an advanced degree, that creates, on average, 2.62 new jobs for locals. In fact, when a region experiences a diversity boom, it brings 6%+ higher wages for all (New American Economy).
What barriers do foreign trained professionals face in Maine, and how do you help?
Across Maine, immigrant professionals are under-employed – despite their skill and experience. I screen candidates for language skills, soft skills, and credentials to identify those who can immediately enter professional-level high-demand jobs. I coach those who are only a step away.
One frequent barrier for engineers — U.S engineer and foreign-trained — is licensure. We guide candidates to prepare for the FE exam, building a stronger local pipeline for the engineering industry. We are looking for more engineering employers to support these licensure efforts.
Tell me a story about one of your placements.
In 2017, I saw an African man standing in the hallway at Maine Medical Center holding a broom. He had a remarkable energy to him. I introduced myself and asked him who he was. He responded, “I’m a geophysicist.”
Two years later, I was contacted by a client who urgently needed geologists for a major job working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I called the Geophysicist – and he stopped cleaning floors — and started cleaning the ocean floor with a team of engineers. Incidentally, this more than tripled his monthly pay. IntWork’s client was so happy with his work, that, when they expanded, they came back to me for more referrals. This was a life changing experience for each candidate. And a life saver for my client.
You’re paid by the company, not the job seeker, right?
Right. Employers pay for IntWork staffing services. Some employers specifically want a more diverse pool of candidates. Others are just need skilled candidates to grow their company. I can help clients with outplacement during a downturn and hire again, as the economy picks up.
In building a pipeline for employers, I’ve become a recruiter “plus”: working to coach candidates nationwide on career direction, take steps towards licensure, and develop marketable skill sets.
I’ve placed foreign and U.S. civil, electrical, mechanical engineers, computer science / DevOps professionals, accountants, lawyers, geologists, scientists, and PhDs.
How has Peloton Labs been useful to you?
My first event at Peloton Labs was Startup Weekend in 2012. It’s a great community for meeting people and hosting meetings. Jodie Lapchick designed IntWork’s Logo. Peloton members have become IntWork clients.
Watch Stefanie Gill in a five-minute TED-style talk on “Hidden Immigrant Talent and the Skills Gap“.
Learn how diversity grows the economy “The Riches of the Melting Pot: How Diversity in Metropolitan Areas Helps Grow the Wages of Low and High-Wage Workers,” New American Economy, (2017) and Immigration and American Jobs” by The American Enterprise Institute & the New Immigrant Economy (2012)
PelotonLabs is a coworking space in the West End of Portland, Maine with a mission to connect and encourage people to manifest their visions without fear.