Handshake to bring new opportunities to Trinity job-seekers


Photo credit: Genevieve Humphreys

Career Services rolled out Handshake — a new career management platform — this summer, replacing Hire-A-Tiger for students searching for jobs or internships.

Handshake is a database of job and internship opportunities that students and alumni can use to apply for opportunities and connect with employers. Trinity’s contract with Symplicity — the vendor that Hire-A-Tiger was run through — came to end over the summer, so the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success (CELCS) team had to choose either to renew the contract or switch vendors.

“We decided to assess our different options as a team. Figure out how [Hire-A-Tiger] was serving the needs and the hopes of our students and alumni,” said Laura Kalb, the assistant director of Career Services and assistant project manager for the switch to Handshake. “How was it helping us live out our mission to empower students and alumni with resources to help them get onto a personalized career path [and] how could we help expand learning outside of the classroom and enhance student impact.”

After reviewing their options, CELCS decided to switch to Handshake. Katie Ramirez, associate director of Career Services, oversaw the transition as the project lead.

“The big part of the project is transitioning [student] data, and the bigger task is then getting employers on board with the new system,” Ramirez said. “There’s a big marketing campaign associated with that, getting them to sign up [and] post their positions, jobs and internships, and then roll it out to the rest of campus and make sure people are using it.”

Handshake is quickly becoming the standard in career services management software, according to Kalb.

“Many of our colleagues across the nation are doing this program. I’ll go to professional conferences, and Handshake representatives would be there, or there will be a director from like Stanford or from other areas who were talking about their transition from [other vendors] to Handshake,” said Twyla Hough, the director of Career Services.

Along with being less expensive than Hire-A-Tiger, Handshake also lists job opportunities both across the nation and internationally. Hire-A-Tiger offered opportunities mainly in the San Antonio and throughout Texas.

“One of the biggest reasons we chose Handshake — and one of the things I personally hope to get out of it — is more opportunity with more diverse jobs in more diverse places. Handshake — just by the way it’s designed — allows students to connect with those opportunities,” Ramirez said.

According to Hough, potential employers can create accounts and reach out to students and alumni more easily with Handshake’s system. There are 3,603 employers and 2,032 opportunities currently in Handshake, and it’s continuing to grow.

“One major success is that we get hundreds of positions that need to be vetted and approved every week. We also have more employers, so not just more job postings, but a better variety of employers representing different industries,” Hough said.

Handshake’s job search system is based on machine learning. The system will recommend positions based on a member’s skill set, major and interests.

“The more that you use the system, the more information you give it, the more it will suggest things,” Ramirez said. “In the old system, in Hire-A-Tiger, it didn’t really do that. So you’re just scrolling through lists and lists and lists of jobs, and it’s not really changing. We don’t expect a student to sit there scrolling through 2,000 jobs, so this one is a little smarter with how they approach it.”

Every Trinity student has a Handshake account with their Trinity information transferred into it.

“I would encourage students to sign up and use it not only because they have access to it but also to kind of help chart what their career interest might be,” Kalb said. “There might be something that you’re leaving on the table if you don’t check it out, because there are some really cool jobs and some really cool employers, and those things are only going to grow over time as we learn more about the system.”

Students can access their Handshake account by using their Trinity login at trinity.joinhandshake.com/login.