Handshake, a professional development and career search platform, has been officially designated as the University of Wisconsin’s main system for job and internship search and recruitment services, replacing BuckyNet and myECS.

According to the company’s website, Handshake, a tool launched in 2014, allows employers to post job and internship opportunities, and students to search and apply for them accordingly. UW joins over five hundred other schools in utilizing the platform. It officially replaced BuckyNet and myECS on July 31, 2018.

Nathan Barker, director of marketing and communications at the UW College of Letters and Sciences professional development program SuccessWorks, said the service was first examined a couple of years ago.

“Back in 2016, all of the career services offices got together and started having a conversation about how to better serve our students with a job and internship service — we examined BuckyNet and my ECS and found limitations,” Barker said.

Renee Smith, student services coordinator & career advisor for the UW School of Human Ecology, said the switch should provide a better experience for both employees and students in light of problems with the old system.

Smith said that with the old system, employees were often confused about how to create an account or connect with the appropriate school or college for recruiting purposes.

Similarly, students’ accounts needed to be manually created, and the search functionality within the system often produced irrelevant search results for internships and jobs,” Smith said. 

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Smith said students in the UW College of Engineering faced an additional barrier because myECS was a “homegrown campus system” which forced them to use a different platform than the rest of campus.   

Barker said switching to Handshake was a campus-wide decision which required collaboration across all schools at the university.

Smith agreed and said moving to Handshake has allowed career services units to “work more closely together and to have a more integrated approach to how [they] serve students, alumni, and employers.”

Barker said Handshake is also beneficial to students in the College of Letters and Sciences, who take a wide and diverse breadth of classes.

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Because of the way former systems set up, Barker said L&S students could view only a limited selection of the job and internship offerings, potentially cutting them off from opportunities they were qualified for.

“Handshake really helps [L&S] students find and pursue jobs and internships across fields — even if you can’t draw a straight line from their major to that job or internship directly,” Barker said.

Barker said another benefit of Handshake is its unique algorithm, which utilizes user information and activity to customize results.

The sheer number of opportunities available for students is now higher, Barker said. Students in any college can now see jobs and internships posted for colleges they are not enrolled in, giving them access to many more opportunities.

Jaime Kenowski, assistant director of communications at the UW Office of Undergraduate Advising, said over 11,000 student accounts have been activated on Handshake, along with almost 9,000 employers.

Additionally, over 6,000 job or internship listings and over 37,000 interview and job applications have been published, including overlap for students who applied to the same interview and job listing.

Currently, Kenowski said there is no way to compare data between Handshake, BuckyNet and my ECS because of system complications and the complexity of data storage for the later two systems.

“UW is looking into the best way to aggregate the data and provide a way to compare the platforms,” Kenowski said.

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Amy Achter, managing director at the UW Office of Business Engagement, said Handshake is used at her office as well.

Achter said that she often gets questions about what UW’s involvement is with specific companies.

 “That’s a very difficult question to answer across this very disparate campus. So, one of the places that we can see what a company might be doing will be in Handshake,” Achter said. 

Achter said Handshake data which is useful to the Office of Business Engagement includes student engagement with industries and industry involvement with students at career fairs or internship and job offerings.

Handshake also has the potential to serve additional functions,  including search capabilities for certain skill sets, like a foreign language or a specific experience. Achter said this allows UW to provide companies with specific students, or go to students themselves and inform them a company is interested in applicants with their particular skill set.

Achter’s office has already been receiving calls over engagement with student talent, and her office can point them to Handshake as well.

Smith said any student interested in Handshake can set up an appointment with career services at UW to learn more about this tool.