This school year, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) ditched their former online career service, Wildcat Careers, and introduced students to Handshake – a new way for students to search for jobs.
Handshake was created in the upper peninsula of Michigan after two students at Michigan Technological University realized there wasn’t really a way to find jobs in their area and felt like their location put them at a disadvantage. Through Handshake, employers across the country can post job openings for college prospects.
The service is open to all UNH colleges, and even UNH Manchester. According to Tyler Wentworth, a 2008 political science graduate of UNH and director of marketing and communications for Career and Professional Success (CAPS), only 6,000 students have signed up since Handshake’s release to UNH in June — their goal is to have everyone signed up by the end of the year.
Handshake is where all on/off campus jobs and internships are located – it has job offerings for students in places as far as Europe and as close as Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Students can sign up for the service online for free and they are given a profile where they can update their job experience, clubs they are involved in and important courses they may have taken. Through that, they are able to apply and search for jobs that matches their criteria.
“[Handshake] makes it easier for single employers to recruit at UNH and come to UNH, which is great,” Wentworth said. “We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of employers that are posting jobs with UNH now.”
Wentworth explained that employers specifically use Handshake to get students right out of college with zero to five years of job experience.
“Too many students don’t realize or aren’t as strong at transferring the skills they have to the job market,” Wentworth said. “Just knowing that there’s an option for you – Handshake does really help at offering those opportunities across those different fields.”
Many students may remember Wildcat Careers, the previous job website that the university offered. Wentworth mentioned how hard the service was to use in comparison to Handshake, describing it as “2011 tech in 2017.”
“Handshake is built on the same type of UI [user interphase] that a Netflix or Hulu is built on. It’s going to lean your preferences and serve you the right kind of information that you are looking for, like Netflix does when you binge,” he said.
The opinion of students is most important to those in CAPS who brought the system out. They have taken student’s feedback over Handshake “to heart” and have a panel of around twenty students testing out how the website works so they can actively get advice on what to improve.
CAPS also recognized that it can be tough for students to get used to a new method. One of the biggest pieces of feedback the office has gotten is over students not getting notifications if they were chosen for a job.
“One of our student interns, Chris, has been making videos on how to check notifications [on Handshake] and make it so people get an email or text alert… we don’t want students to miss information like that,” Wentworth said.
Wentworth stresses the importance of getting involved in job searching at the start of one’s college career, saying that “the job market right now is really much orientated towards the job seekers. Using Handshake as a platform to learn is very important.”
CAPS will be at Union Court in the Memorial Union Building Tuesday to Thursday next week from 11 to 2 p.m. to answer questions about Handshake.