'Handshake' provides SBU students, alumni job-search option

Phone screenshot of Handshake appBOLIVAR, Mo. – Southwest Baptist University’s Career Services has made another tool available for students – and alumni – who are in search of a job or internship.

“Handshake,” which was founded in 2014, is a platform that can be accessed online or through an app, and connects employers, schools, current students and alumni.

Shonna Fore“Handshake is in every single state and across the globe, and there are more than a million different job postings that students have access to reviewing,” said Shonna Fore, director of career services at SBU. “On a smaller scale, when we launched Handshake, I sent an email to all the employers that we were using and had in our previous database, a list of other employers I had from working on the Springfield campus, healthcare professionals who were in the system, and then other people who had contacted me.” 

The email let these groups know that SBU had joined Handshake and invited them to join, as well. Fore emailed approximately 700 employers and asked them to create an account, which is free for them to do. Once an employer has an account, they can create job postings, host informational sessions, do online interviews, attend virtual events that SBU hosts through Handshake, and they also have the ability to connect with students.

“Each employer has the ability to select which institutions they want to connect with, and then we establish a trust score that we have set,” Fore said. “So, if an employer says, ‘I want to join SBU,’ and doesn't have a specific trust score built with through the website, then I go in and individually review each employer and say, ‘Is this a legitimate employer, or could this be scam?’ and approve them or not. 

“Once those employers are specifically connected with SBU, they’re given the privilege of being able to message our students. Our Handshake representative said that based upon only being live for a few months, we are doing really well with our numbers. We can see that there are a lot of employers sending messages to our students.”

If there is a summer camp that is looking for employees for the summer or if employers are looking for something for specific majors they can find those students on Handshake and send them a message saying they would be a great fit. Students have the option to respond or not. SBU does show high success rate of students opening those messages from employers.

Currently, there are more than 1,100 employers who have officially completed a profile and connected with SBU. Of those employers, more than 3,200 jobs or internships are posted by those connected to SBU, though students can view more than that by searching for an organization and finding their open positions.

Fore works hard to make sure students are connected to employers with legitimate positions.

“I am vetting these employers, so my hope is that I never allow a scammer to get through the cracks,” Fore said. “I don’t know if Indeed, Monster, etc., have a process they have to go through before they can technically post. But with Handshake, we can say we have vetted these employers; we know they have a good trust score. Therefore, we know they have legitimate positions. 

“There are some jobs that do get flagged by other institutions, and I read every single flag before I make the decision to decline or accept an employer.”

Screenshot of Handshake websiteHandshake is focused on the student experience and is a place where they have the ability to fully connect with an employer.

“It’s more personalized, and it’s geared more toward college students or alumni of an institution,” Fore said. “Our alumni are welcome to use it. We just ask that if they want to create an account that they contact me so I can give them an alumni tag, which prevents them from receiving the emails that come from our office that are specifically for students. 

“It’s just a great platform for students to be able to look for part-time jobs, full-time jobs or internships. One aspect that we’re not currently using, but hoping we’ll be able to use, is on-campus positions, which is an option students can view as well.”

Fore said she hopes SBU will be able to begin working on posting those positions as well, so that students can have a one-stop shop for looking for any of those types of resources.

“I think Handshake is going to be another tool for students,” Fore said. “Obviously, I still want to provide services within the office in the Clark University Success Center and help students as they need it, but I think this is a great option, especially for students who are not on the Bolivar campus. 

“All of our campuses are able to use this; they were all launched at the same time. It gives access to our alumni who may be anywhere in the U.S. or even in another country. It gives them that feasibility of being able to still feel connected to SBU through this platform, but at the same time, be able to search from where they are currently living.”

For more information on Handshake, contact Fore at careerservices@SBUniv.edu or (417) 328-1689.

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*Published: 5-21-2021