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TripAdvisor tries the smorgasbord approach to hiring software developers

How do you find a software developer to fill an open job at your company in 2013? 

TripAdvisor, the Newton-based network of travel sites, posits that the answer may be by offering him or her more than one job.

The company's Web Engineering Program offers new hires — many of them recent graduates — a series of three or four month stints in a range of different departments in the company. The program has been "in beta" for the past two years, says SVP of engineering and operations Andy Gelfond, but is officially launching this summer. About 30 recent TripAdvisor hires are participating or have participated in it, and the company hopes to recruit about 100 more this year. 

"We now offer it to all the people coming out of college," Gelfond says, "and most other people coming in." New employees in the Web Engineering Program might hop from one team to another for up to two years. "But for about one-third of them, after a couple rotations, they find a team that they like and they stay," he says. The teams at the company focus on areas like mobile apps, Facebook integration, e-commerce, and search engine optimization. Gelfond says the program is designed to appeal not just to those who'd like to sample a number of different flavors of software development work, but also those who may eventually want to start a company of their own. 

The program has already helped TripAdvisor attract employees from other local tech biggies, including Google, Oracle, and Microsoft, says spokesperson Alison Croyle. In addition to Newton, TripAdvisor has software development groups in Ottawa, Palo Alto, and Los Angeles. 

Engineers at TripAdvisor get one week a year of "Hacker Time," which they can devote to any project they choose, including helping a non-profit with technology, Gelfond says...