For rising third-year or fourth-year students, the future after a bachelor’s degree is both foreboding and full of opportunity. Some may want to jump into industry and find a job capable of paying off their student loans, while others may pursue their education further. No matter the case, students at Whittier College are given an edge over their academic peers in the search for a fulfilling career through a powerful new platform: Handshake.
It’s a place where students, career centers, recruiters, and employers come to exchange information and find a perfect fit for everyone. “Handshake is like an offspring between LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s very user friendly for students, and it allows you to have a professional online presence,” said Assistant Director of Career and Professional Connections Sandra Arana. “We approve employers that want to connect with us; we want to make sure that they are engaged and they align with our students’ needs.”
Whittier College recently hosted a Grad Fair on Wednesday Nov. 1 at Villalobos Hall, bringing in over 30 graduate programs for students to peruse and network with. The Career Center’s professional and student staff was joined with support from the Counseling Center, the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), and the Leadership Experience and Programs Office (LEAP). “Every single program you see represented here is because of the data and information that students have entered into their Handshake profile,” said Assistant Dean Deborah Pratt. “Right now, we have about 20,000 employers on Handshake. If you’re a student and you’re looking for a job, statistically, you’re going to have a better chance of finding your job on Handshake than LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a global platform with millions of people. Handshake is a much more concentrated community.”
Handshake offers both graduate schools and employers the possibility of finding students — something a LinkedIn profile fails to provide. “Handshake has employers, but it also has grad schools. Grad schools can also be looking at the talent of our students. It’s much more synergistic for students to connect to their career futures,” said Pratt. There is an equivalent exchange of information giving and receiving between scholars, employers, and grad schools. Whittier College students simply have to set up a profile (there’s no need to create a profile — you’re automatically set into the system) and enter their academic achievements, work experiences, and volunteer activities. Ta-dah! A professional online presence and resumé is as easy as that.
The platform is a networking opportunity for higher education and a job, minus the saturated market of a global player. “It’s really important to start networking,” said an Image Artist for the event and fourth-year Dario Bobeda. “I mean, it is about what you know, but it’s also about who you know.”
The adage isn’t wrong. To start your personal Handshake profile, go to https://app.joinhandshake.com to begin the process of finding a perfect match. And, with the potential to meet thousands of future schools or employers, that’s a lot of virtual handshaking. Time to get started.