2/12/2014 – Medford/Somerville, MA, 02155 – A recruiter discusses internship opportunities with an interested student at the Internship Fair on February 12, 2014. (Nicholas Pfosi for Tufts University)

Tufts Career Center launches Handshake, replaces Jumbo Jobs

Tufts’ switch from Jumbo Jobs to Handshake, a new job/internship database for students, has been recognized as a much-needed improvement in user experience and job search capabilities. Jumbo Jobs faced significant criticism from students and frustration from the Career Center’s staff.

Gregory Victory, executive director of Tufts Career Center since July of 2016, gave some background into Jumbo Jobs and the reason for the switch.

“The original vendor was CSO Research, which merged with MBA Focus to become GradLeaders. GradLeaders was a platform that was primarily focused on MBA schools,” Victory told the Daily in an email. “There was to be a launch of an updated platform, of which we were one of the first schools to launch. We had been working with them for several months on getting ready for the launch and a few weeks before the scheduled unveil they told us they would not be ready and did not provide us with an updated launch date. In addition, their customer service response diminished significantly. Our team had already previewed Handshake a year ago and we asked them to come back to campus to give a larger group of staff a demo.”

GradLeaders did not respond to requests for comment.

According to Victory, other career centers in the northeast have left GradLeaders as well. However, the most important factor in the termination of Jumbo Jobs, Victory explained, was student dissatisfaction.

“Students made criticism about the system, and we took that to heart,” he said. “We heard from many students over the years [about] their disdain for Jumbo Jobs from the user interface, from how hard it was to navigate to find [and] apply for jobs and internships.”

According to its website, Handshake was launched in 2014 by three students from Michigan Technological University to facilitate the process of obtaining employment and to create more equal opportunity for students. It is now based in San Francisco, California. Its website lauds more than 200,000 employers recruiting through Handshake and over 8,000,000 students and alumni from more than 400 universities using Handshake.

As Tufts began the transition to Handshake, Victory explained that the Career Center staff put in many hours.

“We were training our staff on new policies and procedures; we had to upload all this new information for all the students, all the employers. We had to determine how to map out information from one system to another,” Victory said. “Most of us spent an average of 20-30 hours in training.”

After the staff was trained, the Career Center began to connect students with employers. Victory explained that the career center launched Handshake to employers on May 1 and to students on June 1. They are still in the process of reaching out to employers to post for Tufts.

“We just started to look at what employers are in the system [and] what employers are in the area near Tufts,” he said. “We spent the past couple months pulling them in to get them to post.”

According to Victory, industries that do fall recruiting will soon begin posting on Handshake. This includes industries such as finance, consulting, engineering and technology.

“We have a lot more non-profits [and] government agencies who recruit in spring,” he said. “I think we cover as many areas as possible.”

Compared to Jumbo Jobs, Victory believes that there are multiple advantages to Handshake.

“It’s an all-in-one: you can apply to jobs and internships, register for events, schedule appointments,” he said. “It’s a more comprehensive profile — all information and documents are in one place.”

Victory explained that unlike Jumbo Jobs, employers do not have to create separate Handshake accounts for each school they recruit from, which makes it easier for employers to recruit and post.

“If General Electric has a Handshake account, they don’t need to make a new account. [Postings go] straight to us, and we can deny or approve whether [it is] … not a scam,” he said. “And as a student, you see all the employers in [the Handshake system], not just the ones that are posting at Tufts.”

According to Victory, Handshake will be adding a discovery module feature: if a student searches jobs in Denver, Colorado, for instance, it will also show “things to do in Denver, Colorado.” In addition, Handshake allows students to schedule appointments at the Career Center. Victory spoke to the benefits of this feature.

“Before last year, you couldn’t even make an appointment online,” he said. “There’s been a 35 percent increase in appointments, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that students can sign up [when they have time].”

Victory reminds the Tufts community that Handshake is not just limited to students; alumni can use Handshake as well.

“Alumni have the same level of access as students do and we’re working more and more to increase the number and type of more experienced positions that are posted on Handshake,” he said.

According to Victory, the process of finding employment is facilitated once a profile is filled out by a student.

“If you fully fill out a profile, it can push jobs and events. You don’t have to comb through everything that’s out there,” he said.

Tufts students have already begun using Handshake. Senior Saja Alani began using Handshake when it first launched.

“I used [Handshake] mostly for searching for both internships and temporary jobs for the summer. Also for putting yourself out there [for employers], because I am graduating this year,” she said.

Alani explains that she has had a pleasant experience with Handshake thus far.

“I feel like Handshake is extremely user-friendly,” she said. “It doesn’t make it feel like a chore, looking for a job.”

Like Alani, senior Shriya Jamakandi has familiarized herself with Handshake and is so far pleased with the database.

“I think Handshake is pretty cool from what I’ve seen of it,” Jamakandi said. “I think especially since it’s a social media format, it’s more accessible to students and easier and faster.”

Jamakandi believes that there are benefits to having a school-specific platform like Jumbo Jobs or Handshake, compared to other social media databases such as LinkedIn.

“I think there’s a lot to say about school recruiting. I just know that a lot of companies in finance at least, they have target schools. I would prefer applying through Jumbo Jobs or Handshake. It means that if an employer posted there, they’re interested in hiring a Tufts student, versus like Indeed.com,” she said.

Going forward, Jamakandi hopes for a Handshake feature that would allow students to contact alumni.

“On LinkedIn, it’s like ‘Okay, I’m reaching out to random people,’ but if you had some way to talk to them on Handshake or Jumbo Jobs, you’d know that they want to talk to you. I’m sure [they would], but as a student, you kind of hesitate to reach out. If there was a way to get rid of that barrier, that would be great,” Jamakandi said.

As students begin their job and internship searches, Victory encourages students to come to the Career Center for help with familiarizing themselves with Handshake, or to use the online resources available through the platform.

When asked how students can best utilize Handshake, Victory stressed the importance of immediately creating a profile on Handshake.

“I think the biggest thing is to log in and fill in that profile,” Victory said. “The same as you’d fill in LinkedIn, because if a position comes in that you’re super excited about, and you have to spend time filling your app, you could miss a deadline.”

Nina Joung contributed reporting to this article.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated Indeed.com, a job search website, as Indie.com.

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