What can a handshake do?

Shortly after the beginning of 2017, Portland State began its transition from CareerConnect to Handshake in a quest for a “new and improved job and internship portal.”

Carrie Hutchens from PSU’s Advising and Career Services department wrote a press release for Handshake and outlined how the ACS department will continue to administer PSU’s relationship with the new career platform.

“With the new school year coming up, there are hundreds of on- and off-campus jobs and internships that students will miss out on if they don’t access Handshake,” Hutchens wrote. “Additionally, many employers are already beginning their search for summer interns with postings on Handshake that can give students a jump start on the next step in their careers.”

There doesn’t appear to be any information about what prompted PSU to change platforms from CareerConnect to Handshake. However, Hutchens certainly seems very enthusiastic about PSU making the switch. “Handshake, [is] a new and improved job and internship portal that will connect students and alumni with over 100,000 employers, including 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies,” he wrote.

Hutchens wrote the PSU announcement unveiling Handshake, which reads like something directly from the marketing department at Handshake itself.

Although Handshake is a new application for the PSU community, both Handshake and the past CareerConnect platform serve the same essential functions as career websites serving students specifically from PSU.

Handshake was created by Garrett Lord, Scott Ringwelski, and Ben Christensen back in 2014. All three founders were students at Michigan Technological University and subsequently felt isolated from job opportunities at top tech companies.

According to Handshake’s “About” page, the three students went on a road trip to visit other colleges around the United States and “learned that students, employers and career centers were all frustrated by the current process, particularly how student access to opportunities was so unequal.”

What is Handshake?

Handshake provides a platform where students and employers interested in hiring students can connect. PSU student login and password are required to access the site, keeping opportunities private and solely available to PSU students.

Similar to website services such as Zip Recruiter or Monster.com, Handshake operates around the country and works both for local opportunities, including the Vanguard here at PSU. Job advertisements found on Handshake include checklists to assist which majors and prospective graduation years align with prospective employment opportunities.

Handshake users can also browse opportunities within certain job categories such as “Internships Near Portland State,” “On-Campus Jobs,” “Most Innovative Companies,” “Internships in Sports-Crazed Cities,” “Trending Internships at Portland State,” and “Coolest Internship Programs.”

The first result under this list of cool programs is the chance to be an Intern in Deloitte’s Audit practice. This will enable you to “experience the auditing profession from a real-world perspective,” the ad reads. “You’ll get in-depth exposure to the auditing profession and learn more about the day-to-day responsibilities of an auditor.”

An additional category search feature includes a list of popular opportunities for students within specific majors, allowing said students to filter out listings that are relevant to their field of study. But it’s hardly a perfect system.

While PSU students earning a degree in Fine Arts, for example, can find on-campus internship opportunities with institutions like PSU’s Littman + White Galleries, they are just as likely to receive search results for internships within the PSU School of Business Administration,  “Honors Internship Program with the FBI,” or an “Executive” internship at Target. Other BFA results included a Youth Ministry Internship at St. Matthew Parish, an unpaid internship with Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, jobs involving graphic design, and an unpaid internship with the Regional Theatre of the Palouse.

Students can add a variety of filters including whether you want a paid or unpaid opportunity and whether you are looking for a permanent or temporary position. Handshake also shows job fairs that are coming up in your area.

Mixed reviews on Handshake’s mobile app

Handshake’s platform accessibility for mobile phone users can be found through the Apple Inc. App Store, although the website’s application has averaged a low 1.5 stars under the app’s category of Career Services.  

The most common complaint Handshake app users reported under the app’s rating section involved a general lack of application functionality and purpose. Reports indicated the app itself was predominately used as a shortcut link to the Handshake website itself.

One user, urbankayaker, took a break from paddling in coin-filled fountains to give Handshake a piece of their mind. “Garbage,” urbankayaker wrote. “This app makes me want to shoot myself in the face.”

Other Handshake users noted a lack of any recent updates, two years in fact. The Handshake app had not been updated from June 2, 2015 until August 15, 2017. “The app is so old now,” wrote Psycho_Driver, another Handshake reviewer. “Its last update was sometime in 2015.”

Despite recent updates, the app still appears to not be fulfilling the basic expectations users have for the app version of Handshake.

Although negative feedback is seen most often under the Handshake rating section, a few positive comments are documented as well. “This is such a cool company,” wrote user 1642asdd. “Overall sweet tool for college kids trying to find a job. Really innovative features going on.”

“Great idea!” Lex5340 wrote. “Love Handshake as a platform for me to begin my first job search.”