Around 300 students have signed up for Handshake, the new career connections portal offered by the Bastian Family Center for Career Success, but Executive Director Scott Crawford hopes to get every student on it.
Senior Jenna Milligan is one of the students who has made a Handshake account, although she did not find it especially helpful. She plans to become an actuary and did not find many job openings in actuarial positions on Handshake. When she met with Crawford, he reached out to actuary companies and encouraged them to post on Handshake.
“They’re all really willing to help, that’s definitely the biggest thing, the biggest change in the Career Center from when I went there sophomore year to now,” Milligan said.
In the end, Milligan did not need Handshake to find a job. She is expecting an offer from Fidelity in Chicago soon.
Despite not using Handshake, Milligan did have help from the center with things like her resume, cover letter and networking. She attended Coffee and Careers, a one time resume help event outside the Library, the Alumni Speed Networking event over Homecoming Weekend and Handshake focused events.
For Milligan, the effort has clearly paid off. She said she also had not started going regularly to the center earlier because she did not feel it was doing as much before Crawford joined.
Crawford came into the position in February and wanted to move Knox to Handshake. It offers over 1,100 job and internship openings, while Knox’s old system only had about 30 on it at a time.
All of the positions posted are selected for Knox by the employers and by the Center for Career Success. They are open to feedback from students and faculty about which employers should be added or removed.
“We, in our office, approve each employer that gets in the system, and we approve each position that they post,” Crawford said. “If you find something that looks odd, let us know.”
He has also added more events with the center, such as Coffee and Careers on Thursdays, and students no longer have to make appointments for most things they will need help with Ñ resumes, cover letters, interview tips and job searches.
The next big event they have planned is a joint career fair with Monmouth here at Knox in the winter or spring. Until then, they will continue their events and walk-in advising.
Handshake has become the main portal for the center, with tabs for the pages that used to be on the center’s website. One link that Milligan did find especially helpful was Vault, under the ‘Resources’ tab, which is a career research tool. It gives advice on how to get into specific fields.
Crawford’s big goal is to be a resource for students throughout their entire time at Knox.
“We are just getting started in a lot of this stuff,” he said. “And so students are going to see a lot more things coming.”
At an earlier institution, Crawford did a study that showed 80% of students who started using the career center in their freshman year had a position at graduation, compared to 60% of students who started their senior year.
He also pointed out that many Knox students may not be looking for summer and after-college positions as early as they need to be. Internship postings for the summer of 2020 are up now and Crawford encourages students to apply early.
More than anything, he encourages students to come in, saying the center cannot help students if they do not know the students. He wants the center to be as helpful as possible for what students need help with.
“We want this to be super easy for students,” he said. “That’s my mantra, that everything needs to be super easy.”