After a year, Career Center finds success in switch to Handshake

Looking to “handshake” your way into a summer internship?

In July 2021, the University’s Career Center replaced its existing platform, CareerConnections, with Handshake. A year after its initial adoption, it has become a widely-used tool by students and recruiters, according to the center’s staff. 

Greg Victory, Fannie Mitchell executive director of the Duke Career Center and assistant vice president of Student Affairs, believes the shift has helped the Career Center more effectively accomplish its goal of “career everywhere for everyone.” 

Victory’s goals since joining the Duke Career Center in June 2021 have been to increase accessibility to Career Center services and to “make sure that students aren’t falling through the cracks.” 

Rather than posting employment listings on separate platforms to target Pratt and Sanford students, employers can now reach all Duke students simultaneously. Victory said this change gives students “access to a broader swath of opportunities” as over 750,000 employers utilize the platform.

The stronger analytics tools available on Handshake have also helped the Career Center staff and administrators better serve the student body. The platform also allows the center’s administrators to set filters and more efficiently auto-approve employment opportunities. 

“We’re down to manually approving 50 jobs per day from 500,” Victory said.

Katie Spencer, a senior, found her summer internship at Apple through Handshake after a recruiter messaged her using the platform’s direct-messaging feature.

“What I do like about Handshake is that I get to find out about a lot of companies that wouldn't necessarily be on my radar,” she said. Spencer found that the platform was much more effective at connecting her with recruiters than similar platforms such as LinkedIn.

“Handshake is a lot more refreshing than LinkedIn, I'd say, because the status quo has been reversed. And it's the employers that are reaching out to you,” Spencer added. 

According to Victory, 55% of all students—including graduate students and recent alumni—have logged into Handshake at least once, and 35% have completed their profile. 

Despite the success that Victory has seen so far with the adoption of the platform, he still sees many opportunities for improvement. 

First, he wants to eventually migrate Duke student-employment opportunities onto Handshake. 

“As a first-year student, if you come in and you're looking for an on-campus job, and you use Handshake from the beginning, you're adopted as a user from the start,” he said. 

Victory also sees ways that the Career Center can further educate and encourage students to use Handshake. He wants to make “virtual, quick, 5-minute videos to push out to students.” He believes that by integrating Career Center events with Handshake, he can encourage more students to log on and use the platform.

“[Handshake] is not perfect, no system is,” Victory acknowledges, “I think it provides our students the best access to the broadest group of opportunities.” 


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