As the year finally wraps up students all across campus, much like myself, are waiting to hear back from companies to see if they were a good enough candidate to be offered a job for the summer. As a sophomore, I’m beginning to learn just how hard obtaining that perfect internship is. Interviews, Career Fairs, Eagle Link and worst of all rejection have become all but too common for me as the second half of the semester passes. Week after week I attend networking seminars but feel like little to no progress is being made. At this point I feel like I wear a suit around campus more than a sweat-suit (a stable piece of my fashionable wardrobe). I have found that what frustrates me the most is the lack of a centralized platform to which I can hear about upcoming events, message recruiters, and show off my profile without actively searching specific jobs out.


Me attempting to find an internship on EagleLink.com

However, as I was recently searching the internet for various job recruitment websites I was intrigued by an article highlighting a startup company focusing on my exact problems. Handshake is a Michigan based startup which recently moved to San Francisco in 2016. Their mission — partner with universities across the country whilst providing a wholistic recruitment experience based solely on the welfare of the students. Founders Garrett Lord, Ben Christensen, and Scott Rinkwelski recognized a niche in the college market while attending Michigan Tech as undergrads. They found that students socioeconomic standing and alma matters were almost the sole focus of recruiters while finding potential interns and hirers. They felt this unequal opportunity to obtain their dream jobs was disheartening and knew the system was broken. Lord uses the analogy of a discouraged California college student attempting to find work in the oil industry in Texas (which he says is a near impossible task) without the right connections. However, with the use of Handshake and complicated algorithms designed by his team, this theoretical students’ resume and profile will be at the forefront of a Texas recruiters webpages. “It’s college career networking for the future,” Lord stated in an interview in 2016.


Me discovering Handshake

Once Handshake partners with a university they use student data specific to their college to categorize and subcategorize students. Handshake’s algorithms use variables such as majors, concentrations within majors, desired work location, and GPA along with many other factors when classifying students. Once this data analysis is complete every student on campus is given a personal profile which they can display interests, skills, cover letters, and coursework. Providing all students with free accounts ensures the longevity of their consumer base year after year which was a pivotal decision for Lord, Christensen, and Rinkwelski when creating the company. Students can also sign up for career fairs, message recruiters, apply for jobs, and even conduct interviews all in app which is constantly updating as more jobs are offered. Handshake hopes to interchange services such as career centers, career advisors, newsletters, and recruitment websites with what they call a “one stop shop for college internships and jobs.”

Handshake doesn’t look at its company as a replacement for current institution’s career centers but rather a partner to help jumpstart student profiles. Additionally they hope to help pave the way for students as they navigate the recruitment process. With an interactive newsfeed and clean platform the app feels more like Twitter rather a job recruitment tool. Through data provided by the universities students news feed pages are automatically filled with relevant job opportunities in their field of interest as well as employers who have the ability to sift through millions of profiles in just a few clicks to find the perfect candidates.

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Since their launch in 2014 Handshake has completely disrupted the recruitment world by gaining heavy traction from top recognized colleges such as Stanford, Princeton, Brown, and Cornell, 60% of which use Handshake exclusively. With currently 475 institutions and over 8 million students and alumni, Handshake has is growing into the largest college specific recruitment tool in the country surpassing LinkedIn just last year. As a result of such predominate success Handshake now has 200k+ employers and 80% of Fortune 100 companies currently enrolled such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and JP Morgan.

I recently signed up for Handshake after researching its potential benefits and I was extremely pleased with the platform presented to me. After singing in via my school email address I was prompted to take a short quiz identifying specific geographic areas I would want to work in, job preferences, and questions about my current campus involvement. After my profile was created by Handshake I was redirected to a page that resembled a LinkedIn profile. I found I had to fill out the exact same information that LinkedIn had asked me to provide, however after comparing the two websites Handshake appeared more immature than LinkedIn’s. With tacky colors and a less interactive display my profile appeared almost unprofessional once completed. What I did find appealing was the ability to take multiple career interest quizzes to help better identify job matches along with the ability to get notifications about on campus networking events. As a student in the midst of apply and interviewing for summer internships it was comforting to know that there was a company whose sole focus is to help diversify and provide equal opportunities to all students and employers. The all in one display coupled with help provided to students by career advisors is something that I think is going to be heavily utilized in the future.

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LinkedIn Profile

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Handshake Profile
















I’d love to hear your guys’ thoughts on Handshake. With such rapid success do you believe a large majority of colleges will be using this product in the years to come? Do you believe other tech giants such as LinkedIn will eventually beat out Handshake and adapt to crush them as a competitor? Lastly, if you do download the app let me know what you think about the interface and usability of its features.







  1. mariaknoerr · ·

    This is a very interesting topic and timely as many students are franticly job/interviewing searching this time of year. I have to admit as I started reading this, I was not convinced that Handshake would actually provide any different benefits than LinkedIn or job sites like Monster.com. However, as I read a long, you did a good job at convincing me that Handshake could offer a slightly different user experience. It sounds like this app is a good tool for younger college students who are still trying to figure out a desired career path and narrow down their search field with the profile’s quiz component. After that, it sounds just like LinkedIn. I think the most important piece of a job portal is the network. If it continues to attract large companies and top-tier colleges, Handshake could emerge as an effective new recruitment tool. But at the end of the day, the real test is if it gets you a job that no other site or portal could.

  2. I can relate to this post on a personal level, Michael! I’ve had such difficulty using EagleLink in my job search for multiple reasons. As an A&S student, (this may be an unpopular opinion, but…) it feels like the job options and career fairs are geared more towards CSOM students.
    Handshake sounds like an amazing option for college students looking to search for opportunities beyond what their school offers. I am most drawn towards the questionnaire aspect of Handshake. I love that it makes the experience more personal so students don’t get lost in the process of finding opportunities that best suit their qualifications and interests.
    Overall, however, I do believe that LinkedIn will adapt and crush Handshake as a competitor. I can bet that most all students who have a Handshake account also have a LinkedIn account. I can not say the opposite is true. I think LinkedIn will work to create more personalized experiences for different levels of interest, whether you’re a college student or working professional searching for a job!

  3. Keenan Neff · ·

    This seems like a very cool app. As a junior, I was doing the job search all year, and it was difficult because like you said there was no centralized website that had everything you need. Constantly having to shuffle between LinkedIn, Eagle Link, emails from Advisors, Career Fairs, it seemed like I was always missing an opportunity. I have never heard of Handshake, but if 475 universities are signed up for it it has to be doing pretty well. Like what @mariaknoerr said, I do believe that this app targets the underclassmen in college who are looking to figure out what they want to do. As you get out of college and have a real job, I don’t really see a need for the app because LinkedIn seems like a more professional app.

  4. danmiller315 · ·

    The first thing that stuck out to was that the Handshake profile resembled a Facebook profile, which would lend it to less professional than the classic Linkedin layout. Like you, I also had a very difficult time landing my internship and full-time position because I simply didn’t have the connections needed to land a position, essentially putting me behind the 8 ball from the start.

    After going through this process for the last two years, I learned that regardless of how you prepare and who you know, at the end of the day when you go in the room to interview it’s up to you to connect with the potential employer across the table. An app can’t teach you or create a metric for “fit”. As much as we want to quantify it, finding the right fit with a potential employer is an intangible that cannot be analyzed through any sort of digital platform. I think Handshake does fill a gap and does have potential, but I think that its reliance should be limited.

  5. I personally hate linked in as a professional networking site. I think Handshake can serve as a good platform to unify recruiters presence and activities across multiple universities over time and make recruiting far more efficient. What would be really cool if they developed algorithms to identify strong likely hires.

  6. jennypenafiel11 · ·

    This was a really great post. I think the recruiting season can be very overwhelming to students and just to have things be a little more organized can really help students feel more prepared and ready to take on the challenges of applications, interviews and everything else that comes with it. It was really interesting that you noted how similar it is to LinkedIn because it made me think… what if LinkedIn were to incorporate more offerings similar to this app? It would be a good way to make things more efficient for students and if they did, I think I’d agree with @tarakane36 that LinkedIn could crush this competitor. Or maybe just acquire them in a more friendly manner. I also wonder what recruiters think about this app. You mentioned companies such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and JP Morgan are already on board but I wonder if they feel it has made in any difference in their recruiting process or if they have any preference in using this app yet. I imagine if so many of these big companies have enrolled, there must be some positive benefits but it would be interesting to hear the specifics that pushed them to join.

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