Handshake, an intuitive website for college students to find internship and job possibilities, replaced CareerConnections as the Duke Career Center’s platform of choice June 1.
Conversations regarding this transition began in June 2020, around the same time that Greg Victory stepped into his position as Fannie Mitchell executive director of the Career Center and assistant vice president of student affairs. According to Victory, some of the core reasons behind the decision to switch platforms were the simplicity and versatility of Handshake, qualities that could not be matched by its predecessor.
“Handshake was the best tool for Duke and the best tool for students,” Victory said. “It is much more user-friendly for students, administrators and employers, almost like a combo of LinkedIn and Facebook, and since it’s so much easier to use, we expect a 75% increase in job postings. The company that ran CareerConnections probably wasn’t going to improve it much more.”
The months leading up to this change consisted of careful consideration of Handshake’s benefits and how they align with the office’s plans for the future. One of the primary objectives of the Career Center is to provide students with as many internship and employment opportunities as possible.
While serving as executive director of the Career Center at Tufts University, Victory frequently utilized Handshake and noticed how it could facilitate this process. After comparing several similar platforms, including 12twenty, used by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and Simplicity, used by the Sanford School of Public Policy, it was clear to Victory and his colleagues that Handshake was best suited to serve the needs of the office and make a difference at Duke as a whole.
“My job is to knock down every barrier possible for students to have access to the opportunities they are interested in,” Victory said. “Handshake allows us to intersect and engage with other departments across Duke. It helps integrate all of the components of the job and internship process, and it’ll be the central location for events that are posted both by Duke and by employers. We are probably a year out from using it for internal student opportunities as well.”
Given that the first email recommending that students register for Handshake was sent over the summer, the Career Center was prepared for several months of low user interactions. However, 40% of the students who received the email, including members of the Class of 2021 and graduate students, have already taken steps to sign up, a promising sign so far.
The office hopes to see a 65 to 70% completion rate by the end of the fall and is eager to receive feedback from students as they begin using the platform.
The transition from CareerConnections to Handshake is just one element of an overall effort to increase student interactions with the Career Center and the resources it offers. Victory plans to meet with all college advisors in August regarding this push, and members of the office will continue to meet with students both in-person and virtually. Coupled with the switch to Handshake, this endeavor will help Victory to fulfill his utmost responsibility as head of the Career Center: setting students up for life after college.
“My favorite conversations are when students walk in the door and say, ‘I don’t know what I want to do,’” Victory said. “I want students to say that this is easy, and that [Handshake is] a helpful tool. Our concept is ‘career everywhere for everyone.’ What are you stoked about, and how do we get you closer to that?”
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Gautam Sirdeshmukh is a Trinity sophomore and the health & science news editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.