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Handshake brings Cobbers closer to careers

Though many Cobbers imagine vast distances between themselves and their futures, Handshake, Concordia’s replacement for Career Link, hopes to bring them within arm’s reach of careers.

Since the Jan. 4 launch of the Career Center’s new job seeking web service, Sara Johnson, Concordia’s employer and alumni relations manager, said the site has already made an impact.

“We’ve seen an incredible amount of student traffic,” Johnson said.

Within two weeks after launch, the site registered 483 student logins and 32 submitted job applications to potential employers. Also, two employers have scheduled interviewing sessions through the site and will host these sessions on campus.

“This is a better way to look at jobs and do employer research,” Johnson said, who said the site has far more capabilities than Career Link. “The old system was a very clunky system. We needed an interface that was more student-friendly with mobile capabilities.”

These mobile capabilities, channeled through an accompanying app, allow users to do basically everything the site offers: search for jobs, contact employers, update personal profiles, and even “follow” employers and job offers, much like Twitter or Facebook.

A basic profile is automatically set up for every Concordia student, featuring his or her majors, GPA, and graduation date. Upon first logging in with normal student ID and password, the site will prompt students to update or improve their profiles by listing job experience, extracurricular activities, skills and specific courses.

Johnson said students can upload resumes, cover letters, and other documentation to the site, where employers can view it without requesting copies.

Levi Heath said Handshake’s setup made the process of listing personal information simple.

“Because of the way the site is set up, it was much easier than Career Link, which was much more tedious,” Heath said, “I filled out the information, even if I don’t know if it will help me in the long run.”

Heath used Career Link to browse wanted ads, but said the filtration process wasn’t nearly as functional as Handshake, which filters jobs based on major, work type, hours, and geographic range. Users can search within a mile radius of a search point such as Fargo.

Johnson also mentioned jobs offered exclusively to Concordia students through an alumni grant. The site lists these jobs as “Swendseid Award” jobs, which can only be applied for by Concordia alumni or current students.

Concordia is marked one of 75 schools selected to use Handshake as part of a startup. Johnson and a team of students, Ger Xiong, Zach Lipp and Franz Tasha have been working to iron out details and customize site usage for Concordia’s needs.

“We’re still undergoing steps of development,” Johnson said, who hopes to have an on-site payment capability for application fees. “We also hope to make co-ops easier. Right now it’s a long process. Students should at least get class credit.”

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