This past summer, Dr. John Plating, director of the Center for Calling and Career, implemented a tool giving students at Covenant opportunities in the job market like never before. That tool is Handshake, a networking forum between career centers, employers, and students.
A Handshake user has access not only to the many resources specifically provided by the Center for Calling and Career but also the ability to view current internships, jobs, and other available opportunities within the scope of the user’s interests and abilities. Through Handshake, the Center offers a means for appointment setting, resume and document editing, interview training, workplace communication tips, and much more.
Handshake also provides a calendar of career-related events happening on and around campus, such as the upcoming CapinCrouse luncheon for students interested in accounting. Handshake matches your specific profile with employment opportunities best suited for you and provides helpful information about the job market specific to your field of interest. Jobs shown on Handshake are those with whom Covenant has established relationships; these range from highly technical and professional to odd jobs on the mountain that need attention. Whatever the user’s need, Handshake is able to provide a solution.
Handshake is extremely easy to use. The program’s layout is similar to that of Facebook, and even students who are unfamiliar with that particular form of social media will have little to no difficulty in navigating the website.
To begin, simply follow the link in the email sent to your student account from the Center for Calling and Career and enter your Covenant username and password. Once your account is activated, Handshake asks several comprehensive questions in order to get the richest picture possible of who you are: where you would like to work, fields that interest you, skills you possess, organizations you are a part of, and where you’ve worked and volunteered.
In addition, there is a mobile app available for iPhone users. (To all the Android owners, you’ll have to be a bit patient. Yours will be ready for use within a year’s time.) Current Covenant alumni have access to Handshake as well. All you need to do is go to www.joinhandshake.com, create an account, and identify yourself as a Covenant alumni. The Center for Calling and Career will approve your account, and now you have a wonderful tool for your personal use.
However, Dr. Plating offers a warning concerning Handshake communications: “One of the things I am concerned about is that Gmail will give the student the opportunity to identify that [email] as spam. If students relegate us to a spam folder, then any communication that we do about anything the students won’t see.” The Center for Calling and Career is now communicating solely through Handshake, so don’t ignore those emails.
If this seems like a tool that you don’t need, think again. In today’s competitive job market, tools like Handshake are absolutely necessary. Remember where we live: on a mountain, in an atmosphere of semi-isolation. In fact, this isolation was actually a major motivator for Dr. Plating’s decision to implement Handshake: “When I started working [at Covenant] after working at a military academy with a lot of high-achieving students (a lot of impressive 18-22 year olds), I came here, and I was impressed by the quality of students at Covenant. One of the things that discouraged me was that I felt like our students weren’t getting the visibility I was hoping they would get so that people would be as impressed with them as I was, and still am.”
Handshake changes that. The slogan of the founders, “To democratize opportunity,” is the driving force behind this tool that enables its users to have equal opportunity for employment, no matter their location.