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Ntiva connects with WVU-P to create a tech talent pipeline

Living in a cool place.

Getting an education.

Starting a high-tech career.

Ntiva brings it all together in the Ntiva Service Desk Academy at West Virginia University Parkersburg. Ntiva, a managed IT and cloud service company, is partnering with WVU-Parkersburg to create a technology talent pipeline by offering students education, an internship and a career path forward.

“We’re excited about this new partnership with WVU Parkersburg,” said Steven Freidkin, CEO and founder of Ntiva. “We think this is a unique opportunity to embed an internship program right into the campus, allowing Ntiva employees to provide hands-on training to students in their own environment. This would not have been possible without the tremendous assistance from the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, who were instrumental in lining up all the right people to make this project happen.”

Prodigy startup

Ntiva got its unofficial start when Freidkin was just 13 years old. While visiting an electronics and technology store, a wealthy businessman mistook Freidkin for an employee and asked for his technical advice.

The advice was good and led to other businesses asking for his help as well throughout Freidkin’s high school and college years. In 2004, Freidkin officially launched Ntiva, which has grown into a multimillion-dollar business.

That growth has been spurred in part by a series of strategic acquisitions.

West Virginia connection

One of the purchased tech companies drew Ntiva’s attention to West Virginia. The acquired company had 10 West Virginia employees who remotely worked on the service desk from home. The employees and the West Virginia West Virginia Department of Economic Development encouraged Ntiva to keep the jobs in the state.

WVDED Sales Director Jeff Vandall called on Ntiva at its headquarters in Virginia.

“We talked about West Virginia’s business and workforce development programs,” Vandall said. “Those included such programs as Learn and Earn and Governor’s Guaranteed Workforce.”

The concept of a training program appealed to Ntiva. The track record of the acquired tech company demonstrated the potential in the state.

“They showed us there was incredible talent in West Virginia. Their client satisfaction was high and the employee satisfaction and tenure were high as well,”  said Freidkin. “They got to live in an area that was really cool but may not have had tremendous job opportunities. We are able to provide that opportunity.”

Ntiva Service Desk Academy

The Ntiva Service Desk Academy opens in the fall of 2019 in the Caperton Center for Applied Technology on the WVU-Parkersburg campus. The Caperton Center houses a state-of-the-art remote service desk.

Full-time students selected by WVU-Parkersburg will train with Ntiva staff to learn the skills needed to work a technology customer service desk. The selection will focus on second-year students working toward an associate degree in the Computer Information Technology (CIT) program.

The Academy trainers will be former WVU-Parkersburg students and current Ntiva professionals.

The students continue their degree program studies during the 18-month paid internship. At the completion of the internship and their studies, the students will have real world work experience and an associate degree. The graduates can continue their studies toward a bachelor’s degree and interview for a full-time position with Ntiva.

Chris Gilmore, president of WVU Parkersburg, sees the Academy as a win for everyone.

“Our staff and faculty can have better tools to teach our students,” Gilmore said. “Our students are going to graduate and work for Ntiva or other high-tech companies. They are going to have better skill sets that they would have had otherwise.”

As the program develops, the Academy may help spark an interest in technology in high school age or even middle school students, said Josh Strahler, Ntiva senior service desk manager. Strahler is also an alumnus of WVU Parkersburg.

“This is a beautiful state, with plenty to do but not a lot of job opportunities. We’re hoping to change that,” he said. “You don’t have to leave the state to find great job opportunities, especially with emerging technologies and remote work.”

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