Our people are our most valuable resource, and Dawn Tighe is instrumental in ensuring we recruit, train and hire the very best. “Our location teams make a real difference in the lives of the students we transport,” says Dawn. “As the industry leader, we have a responsibility to provide the safest transportation possible to the communities we serve, and that starts behind the wheel with a highly-trained driver.” Dawn oversees our Training Center in Buffalo, which trains an average of 300 drivers every year for 11 First Student locations in Western New York.
Finding Her Passion
Dawn has more than two decades of experience in the student transportation industry. She joined the company as an executive assistant 26 years ago. Dawn’s role changed over time and she found herself becoming more involved with recruiting. She moved into her current role in 2009. “I’ve really grown up here,” shared Dawn. “There are a lot of responsibilities that come along with the job, but it’s very rewarding. I like meeting new people and helping them become successful.”
When it comes to building a strong workforce, Dawn believes in focusing on relationships. Her First Student team is active in the Buffalo community, and their approach to recruiting is centered on engagement. They look to make a personal connection with applicants, whether it’s at a job fair, a festival or the Training Center. “It’s important to take the time to talk with potential candidates, tell them about the job and answer any questions,” says Dawn. “The first interaction we have can make all the difference in whether that person joins our team or not.” Dawn believes creating a positive experience is crucial.
Advances in technology have changed the way Dawn and her team recruit and hire new drivers. “We led the way by becoming one of the first locations in the company to implement the Applicant Tracking System (ATS),” shared Dawn. “Moving from paper applications to an online process made it easier to reach and stay connected with candidates.” Dawn has developed a number of successful recruiting techniques, and has also worked with other First Student locations across the company to launch new strategies. She helped develop our current driver training program, which delivers a ride to and from school that is twice as safe as the industry average.
Employer of Choice
It takes a diverse team of highly-skilled professionals to provide safe, reliable and efficient student transportation. “By recruiting and hiring people who share our values, we have been able to build strong partnerships in our community,” believes Dawn. Because of her passion and commitment to help others find rewarding careers, Dawn is ensuring First Student remains an employer of choice.