Democratizing Opportunity

In the two months since Puget Sound launched its new online job board, nearly half of the college’s undergraduate students have activated their accounts, giving them access to more than half a million employers nationwide.

Called Handshake, the career search platform launched in January, replacing LoggerJobs. Sue Dahlin, associate director of career and employer engagement, says the platform is more than a place to find career and internship opportunities. “It’s a hub for all things related to the career search,” she says. Students can schedule appointments with the Career and Employment Services (CES) office, store resumes and cover letters, and craft profiles similar to how they would on LinkedIn, but Dahlin says Handshake caters to students more than professionals by allowing them to talk about their hobbies and interests in a way that isn’t possible on LinkedIn.

The Career and Employment Services team, ready to meet with students virtually and by phone while social distancing precautions are in place.

“Employers know they are getting a student audience,” she says, adding that Handshake is the largest tool for undergraduate and entry-level talent in the country. As of February, 500,000 employers, including Tesla, Apple, IBM, and Nike, were using the platform—far more than were ever available on LoggerJobs. CES staff members vet all job postings and approve those whose needs fit with students and recent graduates. They reject postings for positions that require degrees not offered by Puget Sound or that aren’t legitimate, ensuring that students see only viable opportunities.

“The whole point of this resource is to democratize opportunity,” Dahlin says. “Students have the ability to find companies and see reviews other students have left, [plus] tips on interviewing and profiles of students who have worked there that they can reach out to, as well as the basic contact information for the organization. They have this massive database at their fingertips to research employers, and I really look forward to showing more students how to use the tool to its fullest potential.”

To prepare for their ventures into the career search, students can use Handshake’s appointment system to schedule a time to talk with career advisors one-on-one. Topics range from career exploration and job search help to mock interviews and salary negotiation tips. Under normal circumstances, these sessions happen in person, but with social distancing precautions in place, they’re happening virtually—on Zoom or Google Hangouts, over the phone, and any other way students need to connect. “We’re more accessible than ever,” Dahlin says of the CES advising team. “Career advisors are saying they’ve seen students they’ve never seen before. That’s going to be a game changer.”

Emma Harrington ’20 is an advisor herself and regularly helps students with creating resumes and finding jobs. She’s noticed that Handshake’s national reach “has given students more direction and hope in our one-on-one appointments.”

The new platform also has been invaluable in her own job search. “I have applied to multiple positions that I would not have found without Handshake, and I check in multiple times a week to see what new postings are available,” she says.

Students can activate their Handshake accounts and make an appointment with career advisors at any time by visiting pugetsound.joinhandshake.com or emailing ces@pugetsound.edu.

 

By Anneli Haralson
Photos by Sy Bean
Published April 5, 2020