Tips from Handshake’s First Virtual Partner Meetup

An overview of insights from career service professionals in the COVID-19 era.

On Thursday, April 2, we hosted our first Handshake Virtual Partner Meetup—and it was so successful, with over 225 career services partners joining, that we’re planning to make it an ongoing, weekly event. 

“I love the sharing here and it’s been way more helpful than any of the other COVID webinars I have attended so far!” Stefanie Swanger

Hosted by Dorothy Hayden from George Mason University and Amy Smith from New York Institute of Technology, the conversation was warm and engaging. Folks on the call asked questions about new challenges being faced while operating remotely during the COVID-19 crisis—in response, everyone on the call chipped in with suggestions and tips from their own campus. 

We’ve aggregated some of those tips here for those who weren’t able to join. Read below to hear what our partners are saying, and then consider joining this Zoom link next Thursday at 11am PST.

Tips for coaching students:

“I am personally launching a Handshake Help Hour each week to assist students with understanding the platform. Our office is also launching Open Office Hours every Monday from 9am-5pm to assist students and alumni in a group setting.” – Stefanie Swanger, Mercer University

“We are repurposing the great content Handshake has shared and posting it on our blog. (e.g. How to Impress Employers at Virtual Events, Get a Job Online as a College Student: 4 Tips From Recruiters, 6 Ways to Make the Most of a Remote Internship).” -Karyn McCoy, DePaul University

“At Cornell, we’re encouraging students to think of additional projects they can take on over the summer + adding rescinded internships to resume.” Autumn Moser, Cornell University 

“We look a where our students are looking and submitting applications, and where new opportunities are coming in from.  We saw a significant (50%) drop in postings across March, but dug into industries. Use this information to tell you what students want!” -Amy Smith, New York Institute of Technology

Tips on advising students who have had internships rescinded

“First address what happened and talk through it. Ask what they were most excited about in the original opportunity. Reframe the conversation to talk about their strengths and interests. There are employers who are engaged in having virtual interns. Then share your screen to show the employers and the resources.” -Dorothy Hayden, George Mason University

Tips on virtual engagement:

“An idea we are doing for a ‘virtual career fair’ on Handshake is creating a virtual meetup as an employer. Basically, you create a new employer and name it something like a ‘virtual meetup’ or ‘virtual fair’ and then you add employers to this page as ‘job listings.’ Each job listing is an employer, and students can then browse the employer page and look at each job (employer). We have it set up so that students can then apply to each of these jobs (employers). At the end of each week on Friday, we will gather these student applicants and send them to the relevant employer. The employer can then go on Handshake and view student profiles or reach out to them. We think this will be a great work around for both students and employers.” -Travis Plunkett, Murray State University

“We created a survey that asked employers who were registered for a cancelled fair—can we help you do virtual events, virtual interviews? Please join our ‘recruiter series’ we’re hosting.” -Amy Smith, New York Institute of Technology

“In Zoom, you can set your chat to auto save. If students are messaging you their student ID numbers as proof of attendance, then you can check them in on Handshake from there.
” -Stefanie Swanger, Mercer University

First Destination Survey Tips

“We’re re-working our FDS to focus on student needs first and outcome second.” -Karyn McCoy, DePaul University

And our own Christine Y. Cruzvergara offered a few new questions to add to surveys in the current climate: 

  • “For students who selected still seeking, I would ask this follow up:
  • Did you have a job offer that was rescinded due to COVID-19?
  • For students who selected that they’ve accepted a part-time job, I would ask the follow up:
  • This part-time job… (select all that apply)
    • Is related to my career goals
    • Will help me gain valuable skills
    • Allows me to contribute to my community
    • Helps me pay the bills / student loans
    • Is not what I planned but I’m worried about the employment landscape due to COVID-19 
  • Due to COVID-19, are you more willing to accept a position that is not related to your career goals?
  • Due to COVID-19, are you now considering graduate school?”

Tips for communicating strategies to students:

“We’re doing more frequent and shorter outreach—we want students to continue to see our name and  what we’re offering to them, even if they don’t take advantage, so that it sticks in their brains.  Leveraging relationships with faculty has been helpful—students are waiting for emails from faculty.” -Amy Smith, New York Institute of Technology

“Mercer University used this time to finally launch our electronic newsletter. It was our way to have clear and consistent messaging that communicated our resources in a predictable manner, instead of the one-off messages that were previously sent. It is a mix of career development, self-care, sharing of COVID-19 career tips, and more, every Tuesday and Thursday.” -Stefanie Swanger, Mercer University

“At the California Baptist University Career Center, we are doing a Coffee & Careers live Q&A on Instagram and talking about certain topics. This week we did how to represent yourself virtually and next week is LinkedIn.” -Rebecca Emerine, California Baptist University

“Something we have been doing is creating YouTube videos to include in our weekly email newsletters. Each video is designed to address helpful tips for our students, particularly that pertain to this time of digital engagement. Last week we presented ‘How to avoid scams when digital job searching’ and this week’s video was about navigating the ‘What Can I Do With This Major?’ resource. Future weeks will include topics such as elevator pitches and online professionalism.” -Christyn Riehl, Eastern University

More resources to check out:

“This is a great guide for students and employers on micro-internships and remote internships as well (from the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions, from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research).” -Chandra Lane, James Madison University