Kenyon College achieves exceptional student engagement

Learn how Kenyon drove almost 60% of their students to log into Handshake within three months of launch.

Successfully introducing new technology to students can be tricky, but within three months of launching Handshake in January 2020, the Kenyon College team soared past their peer benchmarks for student engagement with almost 60% of students logging in.  By offering appointments and on-campus jobs through Handshake alongside some savvy marketing outreach, the team built an extra compelling case for why students should embrace the platform.

Appointments in Handshake

Seeking to consolidate the services they offered through Handshake, the Kenyon team decided to invest extra time during implementation to launch the appointments feature along with the rest of the platform in January.  Lee Schott, Interim Director of Career Development at Kenyon College shared that the decision to tackle appointments during implementation was to ensure Handshake was a one-stop shop for their office’s services.

Offering appointments for both undergraduate and alumni, the advising team of five met with hundreds of students seeking career advice over their first two months using Handshake.  Sophomores and seniors made up the highest percentage of advisees during this initial period, illustrating how offering this service through Handshake drove student engagement in all phases of the academic journeys.

On-Campus Jobs in Handshake

The Kenyon team also made the decision to move on-campus job opportunities into Handshake—another great reason for underclassmen to start using Handshake.  While a rising sophomore might not yet feel ready to search for internships or full-time jobs, part time work on campus can be highly sought after and a great way to introduce students to Handshake.

While bringing on-campus employers into Handshake required a good amount of preparation while implementing Handshake, Schott shared that it was ultimately easy to launch.  The team spoke to neighboring Kalamazoo College about managing this process in Handshake and ultimately decided to deploy Handshake’s “divisional model” for on-campus employment, which consolidates over 40 hiring managers under one account, making it simple to oversee.

The Career Development Office manages the consolidated employer account and trains campus partners who are interested in posting opportunities through Handshake.

Lee’s advice for training campus partners to use Handshake?

“Provide detailed tutorials and make yourself available. We created a website for on-campus employers that described step-by-step instructions to post a job, then offered open sessions to demonstrate the process and answer questions.”

Highlighting Key Employers

After launching Handshake, the Kenyon team began using Handshake’s Targeted Emails tool to promote jobs, events, appointment scheduling, and more to students.  In a particularly savvy move, the team has been giving their students an upper hand in sifting through opportunities (and to educating them on the best ways to look for opportunities on Handshake) by sharing links to pre-filtered job searches.

As they approve incoming requests from employers to connect, the team applies a public label to those employers with a close relationship to Kenyon.  This public label is visible to students and helps them identify companies where a Kenyon alum works or that regularly recruit large numbers of Kenyon students.  This label is also available to students as a filter on the job search page. By logging into their test student accounts, the team was able to run a job search as a student with that filter applied—the URL of the results page can then be shared directly with students to show them the same list of opportunities.  Any Kenyon student who clicks on the link is immediately taken to the job search page with the label pre-applied.

Lee shares that these emails led to a huge increase in student engagement:

“Students love the public facing label to identify jobs and internships from Kenyon alumni, parents and partners. It’s an easy way to both showcase these great opportunities to students and boost application numbers for these employers.”

Student Engagement Results

After just a few months of using Handshake, over 59% of Kenyon students have logged on, including over 55% of the freshman class.  Furthermore, over 30% of their students have already completed their profiles. Both of these metrics represent feats that can take years to accomplish!

Asked about his advice for a successful launch, Lee shared:

“Don’t rush implementation, and ask for help when you get stuck. There are many ways to get support: talk to Handshake, visit the community forums, or reach out to another partner institution that is willing to help, like Kenyon!”