Center for Careers and Internships Introduces ‘Handshake’

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Center for Careers and Internships Introduces ‘Handshake’

Courtesy of CCI

Courtesy of CCI

Courtesy of CCI

By BENJY RENTON

When finding jobs, internships and other post-college opportunities, an intuitive and accessible job-searching system is key to students’ success. After experiencing drawbacks and limitations with their old platform, Mojo, the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) has launched a new platform called Handshake, now available to all current Middlebury students.

The CCI hopes that the new system will enable students to better connect with future employers and search for opportunities tailored to their interests.

The CCI has been using Mojo for the past few years and realized that the website did not meet the diverse needs and interests of the student body.

“We were hearing a lot of concerns from students over Mojo over the number and the variety of opportunities on Mojo,” commented Samantha Haimes, Assistant Director for Communications and Outreach at the CCI. Being the primary resource at the CCI, a replacement to Mojo was needed due to its lack of a mobile-friendly design and general user-friendliness.

The process of switching platforms from Mojo to Handshake involved contributions from many community members, including employers, staff and students. The CCI tested a few different platforms before deciding to use a Handshake, used by many peer institutions. Last spring, representatives from Handshake came to campus, spending time with CCI staff members, students and IT staff.

“One of the students came into the office a few weeks later and said, ‘Are we switching to Handshake?’” Haimes said, describing this moment as confirmation from the students that it was time to make the change.

Through focus groups, the CCI learned that students expressed interest in a new system being more user friendly and having more geographic locations where students can find internships and job opportunities. Haimes said that the system and its features look and feel similar to Facebook and LinkedIn, two platforms relatively familiar to college students. After the first week of classes, 50 percent of first-year students have already logged onto the platform, showing that it is “resonating with students,” Haimes said.

The advantages of Handshake extend to employers as well. In contrast to Mojo, where employers had to create a separate profile for each school from which they would like to recruit, companies can now simply check a box to indicate that they would like to recruit from Middlebury students. This results in an increased amount of job opportunities for students, due to the ease of use for employers.

Handshake includes a wealth of intuitive features designed to assist in the job and internship searching process. For example, a user can save a job or internship search and get updates about a recently posted internship or open work position. In addition, the computer algorithm behind Handshake will display opportunities related to ones a student views or expresses interest.

“It’s nice to be able to get the information you want, care about and need,” Haimes said. She believes that Handshake will be able to better target students’ career interests and goals, as well as reducing the amount of unwanted emails in students’ inboxes.

In an effort to make Handshake the central hub for all the CCI’s contact with students, other useful resources are also available through the platform. Students can make appointments to meet with CCI advisers directly on Handshake’s website, as well as see upcoming events at the CCI. Handshake also contains a resources section, including a list of internships past Middlebury students have completed and integration with GoinGlobal, a site dedicated to finding opportunities around the globe.

Students can begin familiarizing themselves with Handshake’s new features immediately.

“It’s a great first virtual front door into CCI,” Ms. Haimes said. Once they log in with their Middlebury email and password, students can complete their profile and upload their resumé. They can also add their career interests to help Handshake determine job and internship opportunities tailored to each individual student. Haimes and her team also recommend that students simply explore the site and its new features at go/handshake.

The CCI posts weekly tips for using Handshake on their Facebook page and Instagram feed @middcci. Open to feedback on the new system.

The CCI is eager for students to contact them directly with their experiences. The CCI hopes searching for jobs and internships will become much easier with the introduction of Handshake.

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